Neutral Ireland and the Axis: Fact and fiction

Reading through letters and other papers maintained by my late parents I found a half sheet of paper which I believe was typed in 1945.  It looks authentic and I’m wondering who wrote / or spoke it. Given my interest in the it’s highly probable my mother found it and left it for me to read…

“I would like to disclaim the many rumours about Ireland being a sort of espionage central for the Axis, According to the rumours, 4,000 Germans and Japanese were supposed to live in Ireland during the war. In reality there were three Japanese: the minister, his wife and secretary, and six Germans. The day we declared our absolute neutrality, the secret radio transmitters which were in the possession of the Japanese and German minister, were embarged by the Irish Government.

In relation to our population more voluntaries took part in the Allied Forces than from any other country [Note:* below], and likewise proportionally more Victory [Note: Victoria] Crosses were dealt out to Irishmen than to any other nation.

We are hoping for an invitation to the United Nations. Even if we are a small nation, we want to help build up the world again, and contribute to the world peace being secured and the banner of democracy being help high.”

Source: Unknown

A token used by German and Allied Forces internees during  the second world war, known as The Emergency, in the Curragh Military Internment Camp, Kildare, Ireland
*Over 50,000 Irishmen and women born in the Irish Free State joined the British forces during the Second World War. 
[Source:] More than 5,000,  more then a 10th of the soldiers in the Irish Free State military left without permission to fight for the British forces. The returnees were branded traitors, and after the Japanese surrender in 1945, the Irish government drew up the “starvation order” list of  so-called deserters, banning them from tax-payer funded jobs. On May 7th 2013, 68 years after the end of the Second World War, the Irish Parliament, or Dail, passed a bill into law pardoning the men posthumously (only about 100 are still alive) and apologising to their families “removing any tarnish from their name or reputation” Note: wording of the Second World War Amnesty and Immunity Bill.  

“Had Germany successfully invaded Great Britain, Ireland was next on the list. These individuals made a substantial contribution to protect the sovereignty of this country”

[Source: Alan Shatter TD, Minister for Justice and Equality, Minister of Defence.]

* 8 Irish VCs were awarded in the Second World War

China – Under The Hood: Robert Kochmann, Rest In Peace

The sudden passing away of Robert “The Master Butcher” Kochmann is a very sad happening indeed. Even if you didn’t know Robert Kochmann a death so far away from home and his loved ones should give us all pause to reflect on our own circumstances.

Robert Kochmann was the proud Production Manager at Steinbock Original German Sausages (Hangzhou) Ltd (, a Sino-German joint-venture recently established to produce high-quality German meats, including sausages, for the China and Asia markets. There was nothing Robert didn’t know about his produce, particularly his sausages and meatloaf, which I, at last, tasted at CBR’s birthday party back on March 22nd, the last time I talked to Robert.

His sausages were so friggin delicious that I greedily ate five of them, thus denying latecomers a chance to indulge. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of referring to Robert’s meatloaf as Spam, whereupon he spent the next twenty minutes lecturing me on the not so subtle differences. Of course, he was right while I was put to shame.

I only met Robert a handful of times. He was always jovial, always had a good word to say about everyone, and was increasingly happy living in Hangzhou, all the more so since he had found himself a girlfriend.

He always spoke English in a heavy Germanic tone to the point where I think I only understood about 10% of what he was actually saying – luckily the most important 10%. Every time we met he would reminisce about his trip to Killarney in Ireland, orange haired, red cheeked Irish Fraulines, “zat yellow beer zat you drink”, and, curiously, donkeys…  I put that down to my 10% understanding, but he certainly had fun in Ireland…

Like all sudden departures from this world, it is always very hard to equate the fact that someone you chatted to not so long ago is no longer alive. Yep, Robert Kochmann was a good man.

Sitting here now I am thinking how I wish I had chatted to him more, to know more of the man he was. I do know he was a French Foreign Legionnaire, and that he had close family and friends back in Germany who will miss the life that passed away so suddenly today Thursday, April 17th, 2008. How aggrieved they must feel to learn that their father, brother, friend has passed away in a foreign land so far away from them.

My thoughts are with Robert’s family and friends.

From one member of the Hangzhou ex-pat community to another

Robert Kochmann

Rest In Peace


2nd May, 2008 As of today his body lies unclaimed in a refrigerator, inside a Hangzhou city mortuary.  Married twice Robert apparently had at least two children, two girls, the youngest of whom is in her teens.  His company, Steinbock Original German Sausages, will have him cremated and the ashes will be sent back to Germany.  Local Chinese staff and friends in Hangzhou cannot understand the thinking that even his children would not at least want to see him for the last time or claim his body, especially when, apparently, on a monthly basis he would send monies earned to them.  Doubtless there is another untold side to this story back in Germany.

18th May, 2008– Since nobody came to claim his body – no one from either his family or a senior management representative from his company back in Germany – Robert, who put so much energy into setting up Steinbock Original German Sausages in Hangzhou, was cremated by the authorities who were planning to post his ashes to a friend in Germany…Sad

21st February, 2009– Robert’s ashes still lie unclaimed by his family. No matter what kind of father / husband he may have been, not even having the common decency to arrange for the repatriation of his ashes to Germany is insensitive at best. More unbelievable is the fact his German employer hasn’t seen fit to make a similar arrangement.  What kind of people run (