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Casement’s War

Jeff Dudgeon

Casement’s War
Jeff Dudgeon
Roger Casement’s sojourn in Germany is hugely significant for Ireland and England, and especially apposite now the 1914-16 centenary years are approaching.

Field Day Review, 8. 2012
“A Strange Chapter of Irish History”: Sir Roger Casement, Germany and the 1916 Rising, by Angus Mitchell.
Diary of Roger Casement, 1914–16, Part I: “My Journey to the German Headquarters at Charleville”, annotated by Angus Mitchell
“A last Page of My Diary,” 17 March to 8 April 1916, with an introduction by Angus Mitchell (this Part II goes unmentioned on the page headings)
“Phases of a Dishonourable Phantasy”, by Angus Mitchell

This is the first part of a two-part essay.

This edition of the Field Day Review (published by the University of Notre Dame, Indiana) is beautifully presented and exceptionally well produced. On the cover and flyleaf are evocative photographs of Banna Strand, where Casement landed in April 1916, and Murlough Bay in the 1890s and in 1953, during Eamon de Valera’s visit.

Murlough was intended to be Casement’s final resting place, a mile from his adopted home near Ballycastle, but, short of partition ending, it cannot be. Despite Casement’s efforts, the division of Ireland is nearly a century old, Northern Ireland’s frontier being one of the longest-standing in Europe. The memorial cross to Casement (and others) at Murlough’s “green hill” was torn down in 1957 during the IRA border campaign, which was quite eventful in the area. Little of it remains.

The four items under review are two transcriptions from Casement’s German diaries, introduced and annotated by Angus Mitchell, and two substantive articles by him on the German episode and the diary authenticity debate and its history. Together they run to 125 pages.

Mitchell has not entered the authenticity debate before at such length, previously publishing books on Casement’s 1910 and 1911 Peruvian Amazon investigations in the form of transcribed documentation, and a short biography which avoided the diary issue. Indeed he has been largely silent since 2000 when, “acting on the advice of several senior Irish academics I had decided to remove myself from the controversy rather than engage with every new polemical development”. This came just after reviewing “the McCormack and Dudgeon books” in, what has to be said, in my case anyway, a highly dismissive manner as a “queer reading … serving the cause of gay unionism”.

The imminent centenary of 1916 may be the reason for discarding that censorious and career-minded admonition, but off the leash Mitchell certainly is, after a decade of relative silence.

From the off, he asserts that, “Independent Ireland has found it hard to incorporate into its foundational history the [Casement] narrative.” However this is difficult to credit given his state funeral and reburial in 1965 and the fact that Ireland has fairly faithfully pursued Casement’s foreign policy ideas since 1921. The diaries have obviously created difficulties but until the advent of modern deniers they had been glided over.

The first transcription, following an introduction, is Casement’s report of a brief trip into Belgium, ostensibly to discuss the suborning of Irish POWs with Baron Kurt von Lersner, a diplomat he had met in New York. Interestingly Lersner was later categorised a Mischling ersten Grades (having two Jewish grandparents) and sent to the embassy in Turkey. And secondly he was to meet Baron Wilhelm von Stumm, a pro-war diplomat, who was at the Belgian outpost of the German Foreign Office in Charleville. The German difficulty, never quite resolved, was that they could not distinguish between Irish and English prisoners.

Casement’s diary is like an article by an embedded war correspondent, readable and packed with telling detail. He honestly reports seeing the graves at Andenne where the German army in August had executed three hundred and fifty Belgian civilians in a semi-disciplined operation, partly prompted by panic over francs tireurs.

Why he was shown these sights is not clear. Mitchell says Casement’s guide, Count von Lüttichau of the German General Staff (GGS), “had orders” to take him on a detour to witness conditions. However a more interesting explanation is that his companions chose to display these embarrassing scenes in the (vain) hope that he would grasp the dreadful nature of the war.

This is borne out by Casement writing: “Lüttichau begged me to try and get thro’ my interview with von Stumm by 10.30 a.m. so that we might return by Dinant, Namur and Liège. This, a much longer route back to Cologne would be far more interesting as we should pass thro’ some of the most famous spots of the opening stages of the war.” Again, later, his English-speaking chauffeur, Meckel, “a well known German automobilist and aviator” simply “stopped the car to show me a gruesome sight and tell a horrible story”.

Casement also notes the devastation of large parts of Liège and Louvain by German forces and details the many destroyed bridges in France and Belgium, adding that sometimes the damage was self-inflicted or the bridges were wrecked by the retreating armies. He tries to justify his new ally, the German Empire, by expatiating on how the Belgians were getting just reward for their war crimes in the Congo:

Sometimes I must confess when the present ‘Agony of Belgium’ confronts me – and it cannot well be minimised it is in truth a national agony – I feel that there may be in their awful lesson to the Belgian people a repayment. All that they now suffer and far more, they, or their king, his government and his officers wreaked on the well nigh defenceless people of the Congo basin. And with no such reason as the Germans. Germany offered Belgium fair terms – she asked only a “right of way” to meet her foemen face to face on French soil. Belgium refused – at the instigation of England and preferred the arbitrament of arms.

And of course this is the essence of Casement’s endlessly repeated standpoint, of British war guilt – a case worth arguing and one Mitchell does take forward but not by describing it as “Casement instinctively dismantling the colonial hierarchy of humanity”. When couched in Casement’s and Mitchell’s moral and Anglophobic tones, it loses its force and audience. There is useful mention of the issue of secret treaties as a cause of the war on which Casement’s great political ally ED Morel campaigned in the Union of Democratic Control.

Angus Mitchell discusses cogently, if in a partisan manner, the “Rape of Belgium”, the German atrocity issue, averring that Casement was uniquely well placed “to critically evaluate the official investigative practices into German atrocities in Belgium”. (Casement did evasively concede in his diary that “Wrongs were undoubtedly committed in Belgium but they were not all committed by Germans upon Belgians.”)

Mitchell then picks on Professor JH Morgan, a lawyer solder and prolific war author and investigator for London. Because he (openly) advised Casement’s legal team in 1916, he is seen as part of the “secret history of Casement’s trial”. Morgan, like the Ulsterman James Bryce who reported for the government on the German actions in Belgium, was a Liberal patriot. People can have mixed or layered opinions without being in a conspiracy.

The author cannot resist adding the claim that King Leopold’s casualties were “as high as the death toll of the 1st World War”. He of course references Adam Hochschild’s book for this claim but not the work of Professor Roger Louis, a Congo population-loss sceptic (no census was taken), or the recent work of Aldwin Roes, particularly Towards a History of Mass Violence in the Etat Indépendant du Congo, 1885-1908 which views Leopoldian rule critically but fairly. (http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/74340/2/roesAW2.pdf)

In discussion with Baron von Stumm, Casement tellingly explained, “I told him of my larger hope – ‘a dream if you will’ – of an independent Ireland emerging from this war and he at once said it would be to Germany’s interest to have an independent Ireland. I said ‘Yes – to the interest of Europe at large’.”

Casement linked the matter pithily to London’s offer of Home Rule: “In return for a partial promise to allow Ireland to erect a debating society on the banks of the Liffey at some wholly unspecified future date, Irishmen today are to give 300.000 men to the shambles in France and Flanders in order that the Englishman, who is too valuable himself to be put in danger may ‘capture the German trade’.”

Coincidentally, or perhaps because we travel the same narrow street, albeit on opposite sides, I have also transcribed the same German documents as Mitchell, but in their entirety – while interpolating some of Casement’s correspondence. I too recognise Casement’s time in Germany, the months of nervous breakdown aside, as hugely significant for Ireland and England, and especially apposite now the 1914-16 centenary years are approaching.

The German episode has great dramatic potential which the rest of his too varied, and too sexual life militates against, the trial aside, and that lacked a certain tension with the verdict a foregone conclusion. At the same time most parti pris Casement art and writing has been marred by too sugary a treatment, one that frequently is or becomes religious.

The issue of war guilt and war avoidance, not to mention how to end wars, also looms large, but these articles bring no guidance and little insight. Mitchell nonetheless performs a valuable service through the transcriptions by making us address the nature of Casement’s actions in Germany and his arming of the Volunteers in 1914 and 1916. He runs through the literature on Ireland and the Great War cogently.

That Casement recoiled from the actual Rising has greater significance than noted. Here he is “despairing of the imminent project of a rising”, indeed trying to subvert it. Next he says it will be abortive and “a crime they [the Germans] will pay for bitterly”. John Devoy however in the Gaelic American of October 4th, 1924 judged differently: “Casement impugned the good faith of the Germans as to the quantity and quality of military supplies and asked that the Rising be postponed. The charge of bad faith was wholly unfounded.”

Like Edward Carson, perhaps more so, Casement militarised Ireland. Mitchell admits as much, saying that after he retired on ill-health grounds, “His energies were then channelled into the Home Rule crisis and the paramilitarization of Irish politics”, as if that was an achievement. Casement’s view here of the Irish Volunteers as “excitable young men” reveals only irresponsibility. Get young men guns and they will use them, and of course they did.

In Ulster’s case, the young men went off to the Somme. In later years from 1970, deserted by the upper class and abandoned by the middle they joined paramilitary groups which, thereby, lacked officers, something Casement felt the Irish Volunteers also did. The results were inevitable and not pleasant.

The extracts seriously condemn Casement who latterly rails against a weak German offer of support in endless, inane and silly writing. They also reveal why he wrote the Black Diaries: his writing is a substitute for conversation. It is plainly a process of talking to himself and recording his thinking in ceaseless and increasingly self-justifying rage. Mitchell admits that “at times Casement’s inner reflections border on the paranoiac”. Hysterical might be more accurate, the behaviour of someone who can only be oppositional until doubt sets in and they become conflicted.

Or was he all emotion as Joseph Conrad memorably wrote of him in May 1916 (to John Quinn)? “He was a good companion but already in Africa I judged that he was a man, properly speaking, of no mind at all. I don’t mean stupid. I mean that he was all emotion. By emotional force (Congo report, Putumayo – etc) he made his way, and sheer emotionalism has undone him. A creature of sheer temperament – a truly tragic personality, all but the greatness of which he had not a trace. Only vanity. But in the Congo it was not visible yet.”

There is a central gap or flaw in Casement’s reasoning which made him a limited thinker. He here denies Germany the right to interests, just as he, previously, and Republican dissidents today, deny England its interests. Ireland, in contrast is above having interests and Casement, like modern anti-revisionists, is self-righteously and unyieldingly critical of its enemies for such a sin. Every state has interests, even the Irish, but Casement (and his crony Alice Stopford Green) was relentless in denying England any; everything is exploitation of the weaker by the strong, nobody has free will.

Casement’s greatest achievement in his first months was the statement he obtained from the German chancellor in November 1914: “The Imperial Government formally declares that under no circumstances would Germany invade Ireland with a view to its conquest or the overthrow of any native institutions in that country. Should the fortune of this great war, that was not of Germany’s seeking ever bring in its course German troops to the shores of Ireland, they would land there not as an army of invaders to pillage and destroy but as the forces of a Government that is inspired by goodwill towards a country and people for whom Germany desires only national prosperity and national freedom.” Within three weeks of his arrival in Germany, he had effected the greatest of diplomatic advances, one similar to Wolfe Tone’s in Paris – diplomatic recognition of an independent Ireland.

In his birthday congratulations to the Kaiser of January 29th, 1915, Casement was expressing his gratitude by praying “for the righteous triumph of German arms” and earlier when voicing annoyance at the then comparatively low level (57,000) of British losses.

Later in the extract he complains of the “curse of Prussian militarism” that the Prussian system was the “embodiment of soulless efficiency”, of the “coarse and selfish heads of this Prussian abortion”, virtual blockheads who were “incapable of understanding the minds of other men … collectively a great nation, individually – an undesirable one”. Mitchell under-explains all this by saying that the Germans had “lost sympathy with his cause”, although Casement wrote that “their only interest in me lay in exploiting me & the Irish cause”. As if it wouldn’t be?

This declaration was followed in December 1914 by the formal Treaty with Zimmermann which opened, “With a view to securing the national freedom of Ireland, with the moral and material assistance of the Imperial German Government, an Irish Brigade shall be formed from among the Irish soldiers, or other natives of Ireland, now prisoners of war in Germany.”

It is ironic and remarkable that the same man should, only fifteen years earlier, have been advising the prime minister, Lord Salisbury, in March 1900 of “frequent allusions to ‘downtrodden Ireland’ which appeared from time to time in the Standard & Diggers News in connection with the so called ‘Irish Brigade’ … a runlet of Johannesburg tapsters and cornerboys swelled by driblets of Continental ruffianism”. This was a possible reference to his future colleague in 1916, Major John McBride.

Formation of the Irish Brigade in Germany, which took up the next year, was however a disaster. Casement managed to get only fifty recruits and they were in no sense reliable (one Timothy Quinlisk was executed in Cork in February 1920 as a British agent) while his foolish attempts to get the brigade to Syria were viewed with horror by John Devoy in New York: “Fighting for the Turks would be a fatal cry in Ireland.” He was also concerned with Casement’s “indiscreet talk”. Among others made aware of the coming rising was the “politically biased English-born” Princess Blücher. In her case, she voluntarily handed Casement’s incriminating papers over to British Intelligence after the war.

The second transcription is entitled “A Last Page of My Diary”, being in the original 134 pages long. It tells of Casement’s final three weeks from March 17th before he, Lt Monteith and one other Irish POW, Sgt Daniel Beverley (chosen by Monteith) left for Ireland. Those weeks were spent in a state of rage, depression, frenetic writing and bitter arguments with the GGS. His army contact, Rudolf Nadolny, understandably, was apoplectic when he discovered that Casement, with the assistance of the Admiralty, had sent John McGoey (who had recently arrived from the US) via Denmark to try and get the rising called off because of poor German support.

It is actually quite remarkable that Casement was not immediately arrested, as was his old colleague Bulmer Hobson in Dublin in April when the IRB feared he was up to the same trick. Hobson was never forgiven, unlike Casement. And it is even more amazing that the German Admiralty “the best part of all this show – a long way the best” finally provided a submarine to transport him to Ireland to arrive in time, as he thought, to block the rising.

Had the Admiralty not been so silly as to provide a submarine – persuaded, Casement said, for German reputational reasons – he would have survived the war and entered Irish politics in 1918 on a par at least with Eoin MacNeill and probably much more significantly, and certainly by 1921 a negotiator-in-chief. Unfortunately this aspect of the last days in Berlin goes largely without comment or analysis from Mitchell. Irish revolutionaries on German submarines, one notes, have a poor outcome.

U-19, the first ever German diesel submarine, was to arrive in Tralee Bay just a few hours after the arms ship Aud. It also failed to find the promised pilot. What Casement apparently never knew was that Captain Weisbach had been ordered, as the Aud’s Captain Spindler wrote, that “under no circumstances however must a landing occur before April 20th [Thursday] in the event of a premature arrival”. Thus Casement would only ever have had hours to get to Dublin to persuade MacNeill (and the IRB) to abandon the action. The Germans seem to have tricked Casement, as there was no point in sending him separately if the vessels’ timings were designed only to ensure he made a rendezvous with the Aud in Tralee Bay. It seems the two German services, as ever with armies and navies, were not acting in concert but this key puzzle goes unanalysed by Mitchell.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this story is the fate of Casement’s companions on U-19, particularly Beverley and McGoey. Robert Monteith, who was a Cavan Protestant farmer’s son and a Connolly socialist, managed to evade capture in Kerry, making it back to the US. Not unreasonably, he did not participate further in the rising but did in US socialist politics.

In his diary on April 10th, ever loyal to Casement, he wrote: “I must move quickly as my time is short. I am now driven, I can use no other word, to embark on what I believe to be the wildest enterprise in the history of Europe, and it is in my opinion a deliberate cold blooded attempt to get rid of Sir Roger Casement and myself, under the pretense of helping our country … I believe Sir Roger Casement, Sgt Beverly and myself are going straight to our death with our hands tied, without even hope of being able to raise a hand to defend ourselves, and fools think we cannot see through their treachery ‑ or let me be charitable, want of foresight … Without me and perhaps without Beverly the world will move along in the same way, but in Sir Roger Casement, the world loses one of her best and greatest men.” (http://www.irishbrigade.eu/recruits/monteith/monteith-germany-diary.html)

Beverley was using a nom de guerre. He was actually Daniel Julien (sometimes Julian) Bailey, a Dubliner from St Michan’s with a French mother (named Berthelier). He evaded capture in Kerry a day longer than Casement and after giving various other names offered a statement to the RIC. He was eventually charged and brought to trial at the Old Bailey. His fate was not settled until after sentence of death was passed on Casement. Contrary to Mitchell’s note that Bailey/Beverley “turned King’s Evidence”, he didn’t give court evidence, or reveal much more than the British knew or what Casement himself told the Kerry police and Scotland Yard. Bailey’s statement denied personal culpability and foreknowledge of the operation. Omitting most salient facts, he said he had only participated with a view to getting home. His most significant remark, duly ignored by the authorities, was, “I heard that Dublin Castle was to be raided.” His statement was however read out in court by FE Smith, the Attorney General and Carson’s “Galloper”.

After Casement had been taken down, Smith surprised the court by dropping the charges against Bailey. He said he “was a private soldier of humble origin” who had made a statement on his arrest when he said that he was not, and never had been, a traitor to this country or the army. “He had joined the Irish Brigade with one object only – namely, to return by a subterfuge to the Army. He wanted to escape from the hardship and inactivity of his captivity. It was impossible to know what the motives might be which actuated a man – inference and conjecture were the only guides.”

Smith added that he had come to the conclusion that the evidence was inconclusive; therefore it was necessary to look at his army record. “Bailey had served nine years, six of them abroad. His record was uniformly good. In these circumstances he had taken on himself the responsibility of deciding not to test the defence which the accused would have put forward. He did not think it right merely to enter a nolle prosequi, but to offer no evidence, so that the jury might enter a verdict of acquittal.”

This seems very much a personal decision by the Galloper, probably to ensure the focus on Casement was not lost or diffused, and otherwise to prove his humanity in relation to the common soldier. Bailey then disappears from view, that is until a recently released record emerged in Kew. It dealt with a concern expressed in 1918 by Hon Miss Anne MacDonnell of the Irish Woman’s Association that Bailey had become a captain in the British army.The rumour was stated to be “groundless and mischievous [as] Bailey is now a Private in the Railway Operations Department, Royal Engineers and serving in Egypt”. Earlier, in a peculiarly English mode, there is a record of the police in 1916 watching a Mrs O’Dea, a widow “educated in Germany” described as engaged to Bailey and “a fast woman”. She had two sons in the army and it was ascertained that her sympathies were “entirely British”.

Full and further details of Bailey (and his medals) have since been made available on David Grant’s website, oddly not mentioned by Mitchell (http://www.irishbrigade.eu/recruits/bailey.html). It carries an amazing amount of Irish Brigade documentation particularly in the form of birth, marriage and death certification, war records and news cuttings. Bailey died in Ontario in 1968, having emigrated to Canada in 1921, but only after another marriage, in 1926, to 18-year-old Clara Nash. His first wife, Katherina O’Dea, died in 1924 aged fifty.

John McGoey’s story is even stranger. Stated by nationalist writers to have been executed by the British in Scotland, he never resurfaced after leaving Germany. Mitchell says that he remained “something of a mystery” and that “different rumours surround his fate”. He conceded however that “more recent research [unspecified] suggests he survived the war”.

The question that remains is whether he was too late getting out of Denmark or, more likely, decided to disobey Casement’s orders. He had the power to stymie the rising but didn’t. Which is not to say he couldn’t be a quick worker. Last seen en route to Denmark in late March, by September 1916 he was marrying a Miss Ethel Wells in Essex while serving on an armed merchant cruiser, HMS Kildonan. Perhaps McGoey believed the rising should go ahead and he was disillusioned with Casement’s demoralising machinations, despite telling him “he had sized up German militarism”. Or perhaps because of that militarism he had decided to cross over to the other side while securing and preserving his own freedom. He certainly never sent the card marked “off” from Denmark that Casement so desperately awaited. Sadly McGoey was to die in a building accident on the Chicago Tribune Tower in 1925, leaving Ethel a widow with one child. (See David Grant’s website for more on McGoey: http://www.irishbrigade.eu/other-men/goey/goey.html)

Lives lived are often more complicated and interesting than conspiracy theories. What Angus Mitchell cannot say however is that British Intelligence was really quite flatfooted, something “the archive” tellingly reveals. At the end of his first article, he reminds the reader “of the suspect nature of official evidence and of the vulnerability of the historical record to such typical acts of intellectual treason”. He has become Casement.


Part II, “Casement Wars” will address Angus Mitchell’s last article, “Phases of a Dishonourable Phantasy”, on the history and literature of The Black Diaries, and their authenticity.

Jeffrey Dudgeon is the author of Roger Casement: The Black Diaries – With a Study of his Background, Sexuality, and Irish Political Life (Belfast Press, 2002, 692 pp).


Four transcriptions omitted from Mitchell article

•           “Rough note” dated March 7th, 1916 (NYPL Maloney Papers IHP Box 2)
•           Note dated March 28th, 1916 (NLI MS 1690)
•           Duplicate diary entries March 28th to April 6th, 1916 (NLI MS 17,587/2)
•           Narrative April 9th to 11th, 1916 (NLI MS 17,587/1)

(1) Mitchell points out in the case of Casement’s initial note on the arms shipment that a copy of his “attached” memorandum “has not yet been traced”. It has, and is in the New York Public Library in the Maloney Papers (IHP Box 2):

Rough note. Munich.

March 7. 1916.


Lt. Monteith came from Berlin and told me that arms to be sent Ireland in trawlers disguised as Br. mine layers.

Frey sent for Monteith on Tuesday 1 M’ch to tell him a wireless had been rec’d from J.D. to say that “Something was going to happen in Ireland” & to send arms. This to the G. Admiralty. They agreed & sent for M. to tell him that the trawlers wd. go & to ask for best place to land.

Fennit is the best place – in Kerry.

Frey offered up to 200.000 rifles.

M. said 20.000 rifles with 300 Ctges. per rifle & 20 machine guns to go off at once or Revolver Cannon.

Monteith’s possible selection from Brigade for the forlorn hope to go with the arms.

Kehoe,             Granaghan

Beverley          Kavanagh

Dowling                      Young O’Callaghan

O’Toole                       Kennedy

Delamore         Wilson


They say at G.G. Staff that they will send the arms by 23rd or 25 April next to Ireland

This is a rough Memo of what Monteith came to Munich to the Nursing Home to tell me. He went back to Berlin that night – 7 March with a Memo from me for the General Staff – This I followed up on the following day – Wed. 8 March.

I was in high spirits. There was at length a prospect of action, and of getting out of Germany into Ireland.

All depended obviously on the submarine being put at our disposal to send me ahead to ensure the arrangements being thorough – otherwise failure is so very likely. Also once I got into Ireland I might be able to stop an abortive rising and arrange as for the reception of the rifles.

All these hopes were dashed to the ground on my getting to the General Staff on 16 March & learning that the submarine would not be sent & still again next day on learning at the Admiralty that the Steamer would not be convoyed by submarine.

(2) Mitchell misses out, or perhaps is unaware of, three other diaried accounts of the last days in Berlin. This (lengthy) first item dated March 28th, 1916 is in Casement’s previous diary (NLI MS 1690), somewhat out of sequence, and comes after a year-long gap which started in the sanatorium. It majors on his greatest achievement, the Declaration of Goodwill and the Irish Brigade Treaty, something Mitchell hardly touches on:

“My “Diary” ended here.

I was so disillusioned & miserable from this on – so utterly out of touch with the monitors of the German F.O. that I saw the whole aim & object of my journey was a failure.

The only thing I had to show for all my sacrifice (& folly –) was the Treaty. This was a historic fact.

Here, in a formal agreement signed with the Seal of State the Imperial Govt. had pledged itself to take certain steps to assist Ireland to gain complete independence & in the event of these proving successful to recognise publicly and support the independent Govt. so established.

All that I stayed on in January for was based on this Treaty. I hoped that, even while I saw the futility of the Treaty since a possible German victory faded away further & further into the limbo of the lost. Still this Treaty justified me – & it did more.

It was, in itself, a Recognition of Ireland in the world – of Ireland a Nation – an extraordinary admission to have obtained in such set official terms from the most arbitrary of Govts.

My only hope – was to have it published –

If that could be done, I saw its value to the Cause of Irish liberty in the future & to the inspiration of those holding up the flag today. Moreover it was the surest means I possessed or could invoke to keep Irishmen out of the war.

Once it was proclaimed urbi et orbi it was clear that the real Nationalists of Ireland would have an answer to England & Redmond that no one had dreamed of …”

(3) The second omission is in NLI MS 17,587 (2) and consists of four sheets of additional diary entries from March 28th to April 6th, 1916 that duplicate those last pages Mitchell transcribes out of MS 5244. This, if nothing else, exemplifies Casement’s habit of diarying the same days twice which of course happened in his so-called Black and White Diaries in 1910 up the Amazon.

Rough note of last days in Berlin.


Tuesday 28 March –

Arr. From Munich at 7. Met by Monteith who considers the whole thing “dastardly.” Told him I wd. stop it if I could – but saw no way without irreparable injury to others – but that I had decided not to take the men.

Wed. 29 M’ch.

In Admiralty by appointment and explained there the objections to taking the men. – They saw them & one captain to G.G.S with me – where a very furious discussion arose (see my letter to Wedel of 30th)

From the G.G.S. & this row, wherein I saw clearly the character of the thing explained here & the aims these men have – viz. slaughter in Ireland for German military purposes – I met Gaffney & to Noeggerath’s by chance really – Latter had said he’d like to see me. I told both there under seal of secrecy the whole situation. Both came to dinner with me.

Meantime Haugwitz from G.G.S. had called – but I was out. I was ill with fever. (Haugwitz went to Zossen next day to try and get Mon[teith] to agree to take the men “over my head. He failed.)

Thursday 30. M’ch.

Phone call from Nadolny to see him as soon as possible. Went & he again tried to blackmail me into full acquiescence with his plan. I think him a complete and perfect scoundrel and he knows I do. He is but the instrument of a policy of scoundrels. Back & told Noeggerath whom I had seen before going to G.G.S. & told him my fears. He to Zimmermann at 12.30 & back at 2 to say Z. interested & would try do something. My views all the time submarine essential if the thing to go on at all – stop it if could – & send more help.

Thursday 30 M’ch

Back to G.G.S at 3 – after seeing Monteith in from Zossen. At G.G.S. I listened to Nadolny & came away more than ever impressed with the horrors of these people.

[Insert stroked out:] He called the Irish soldiers at Zossen “Disasters”! Said he would cable to U.S.A. over my head to take them & tried all he could to get me to give in. I never budged. A record of our conversation would damn the G.G.S.

N’s politeness to me today due to Z I fancy & also to the fact that Haugwitz had been out to Zossen to try to detach Monteith from me. On finding he could not (Staunch Monteith!) H. had doubtless phoned in to N – & then latter had phoned to me.

I returned from G.G.S. ill & lay down with high temperature. In evg. Monteith came I while I was in bed. I told him I thought of writing to Wedel explaining the whole damnable thing from my point of view & saying at any rate I should not take the men.

I could not sleep – any more than last night – at 1.30 or 2 a.m. (3 really). I got up & wrote rough dft my letter to Wedel of 30 Mch. Lay down & slept 1½ hours all told.

Friday. 31 M’ch.

Finishing my letter to Wedel – fever on me all day. Doctor came. Manager hotel insisted on it. Lying down nearly all day. Gaffney greatly approved it & went on got me copying things to get copies of it. Busy on it & other things. Dr. said must stay in bed.

April 1.


Finished my letter to Wedel with rough copies. Dr. called again. Says threatened congestion of lungs. Told me go out for a few seconds & walk slowly.

Sent letter to Wedel by Monteith, after reading it to him – He approves strongly. He took it & Wedel said it wd. have “his immediate attention.”

I was hopeful after sending the letter to Wedel. Wedel is the best of the lot in the F.O.

To Esplanade with Gaffney after my short walk & there met Emerson & Fromme and took tea with them till 6.

Back – Gaffney dined with – the Zerhusens came she is nice Irish woman still in spite of so many years in Germany. Stayed up talking with them until nearly 11 p.m. Sent a second letter to Wedel. 9 today – See it – & learned he had “gone on leave of absence for four days.”

April 2. Sunday.

Lovely day. Gaffney called & out with him in Thiergarten & then lunch at hotel with Frau R. B. Dined with G. in evening at Hoffman’s Keller and back at 9 p.m. to meet Monteith who stayed with till 11.30. The latest development was that at 6.35 I got a phone call from Assessor Meyer saying they (F.O.) could do nothing and I must call with Nadolny – see my remarks on it.

April 3. Monday.

Called on Ctess. B. Left her copy of the x… and explained a very little only. She thinks I go to Munich. v. Haugwitz phoned begging me to call at 3. important.

I consulted & went. They still wanted the men to go as gun company. I refused and while we were polite differed profoundly. Nadolny came in during our conversation & revealed the Beast again. Matter was still left to be settled tomorrow – they phoned for Monteith to come in and aid.

At 11 p.m. Zerhusens in from Zossen with letter from Monteith to say Fr Crotty coming in morning. I had asked for him to come & M. had wired Limburg.

Tuesday. 4 April

Met Fr. Crotty and brought him to Hotel & after short talk explaining much, he had bath and breakfast. Then told him all in my room. He went on to C’tess Blücher – with a letter from me begging her to secrecy absolute. She replied by him – with a prayer book & confession book. Then with M. to G.G.S. where finally they gave in & accepted the inevitable – that the men should not go. We take Beverley at M’s wish. Poison arranged for all three! Haugwitz the only gentleman there.

Everything fixed for departure – “probably Friday night.” My second victory – I have saved the men. Fr Crotty to the Dominicans & then to dinner with me. He in my room till 10.30 or 11. I fell asleep while they talked.

Wed. 5 April.

Fr Crotty at 10. We go to Zossen at 10.38. Von Haugwitz called with measurements for the sailors’ clothes for M., Beverley & myself. I am convinced the thing was largely inspired by von Papen – who filled J.D. with assurances of German goodwill & support, possibly honestly enough. He did not know his G.G.S. either. Spent day at Zossen talking to men a word of farewell – Breaking heart. I have been crying all the morning.

Back with Fr. C. at 5.30 and Krebs to whom I had given Wedel’s letter to copy. I took Krebs into confidence under strictest promise of secrecy – as I want another witness after death. I have not told him all only the blackguardism of the G.G.S. which he sees very clearly – & the other things – But J.D.’s letter explains much. Fr Crotty left for Limburg at 9.17 train. Saw him off. Wrote diary till 1.30 a.m. after Fr Crotty who begged me to make fresh attempt.

Thursday 6 April.

Haugwitz several times. Also N. after reading my diary – He went to Z. “greatly impressed” & on to Admiralty he told me.

At 4.15 I got letter from Wedel, inclosing one from Berne 5 April – Awful. Off to Admiralty, rang up Haugwitz who came at 6. Gave him the letter & he to Nadolny – promising return. Did not come. I expect a great row on.

(4) The third omission is in NLI MS 17,587 (1), takes the narrative from 9 to 11 April, Casement’s final full day in Berlin and is replete with meaty opinions:

Sunday 9 April 1916

Dies non. Spent day with Gaffney and walked all night nearly to try and got sleep – but none.

Monday 10 April

Sent Monteith to G.G.S. (with Beverley) and a note to Count von Haugwitz – attached hereto  and then at 11 to Reichsmarineamt and saw Captain Stoelzel and Heydell.

Former told me the “U boat” would go either from Emden or Wilhelmshaven – not yet settled which – and we should be ready to go tomorrow night (Tuesday 11 April) at 11 p.m. from Zoological Garden station. Captain–Leut Kirchheim will accompany us. All details of departure to be arranged by G.G.S. – a coupé will be reserved.

I asked if the steamer had gone – Yes – and if there would be any chance of our meeting her and Stoelzel said that was not certain – he was not sure!! [The Germans did not want Casement to get in front of the Aud and the captain had orders accordingly.]

Neither am I!

We shall start I think with sealed orders and even after the Commander of the “U boat” has them I wonder if we three men in a boat shall ever learn our destination?

I doubt it. More I think it highly probable that if the “U Boat” find no revolution in Ireland we shall be brought back for God knows what sort of fate in Germany. If the revolution does not come off it will be put up to me and John McG! [John McGoey]

Monteith sent for Kavanagh today to give him some information about Quinlisk who has been saying strange things of late Monteith says – M. says it is better to know what the thing is and Kavanagh says he will not tell it save to me. So he is brought in and waiting here with Unteroff. Hahn the return of Monteith from the G.G. Staff. He went there about 10.15 and it is now 11.40 – I was not long at the Admiralty only a few minutes. Both Stoelzer and Heydell very cordial.

My chief concern now is for the man at Berne – What a shame not to have brought him here! Just think of it – he has come all that way and I can not communicate with him or learn anything at first hand about the true state of affairs in Ireland.

I do not think for a moment they gave him my telegram comm! It was sent but probably censored by the Legation at Berne.

It looks clear to me that they don’t want him to leave Berne until it is quite out of the question he should reach Dublin in time to stop “proceedings.”

They argue possibly thus – Our people still hope for the officers and a submarine – perhaps if they were told neither was being found there would be no “revolution” or “revolt” I mean.

So, MacDonagh, if it indeed be he, is kicking his heels out at Berne waiting for word from me – and I am unable to send it to him.

The right thing would be to bring him here, let us talk frankly – and if he could send him, too by the submarine to Ireland!

They treat me all the time just as they think suits them and their needs – and I am really a prisoner altho’ I go to an almost certain death. I tread the pavement with joy – my last day in Berlin, city of dreadful night and most “forbidding society.” How I loathe the place!

I felt the day I arrived here 31 Oct 1914 that I had walked into a trap – I heard the jail door close behind me – and it has indeed been my prison and my doom.

Oh! To see the misted hills of Kerry and the coast and to tread the fair strand of Tralee!

Monday. 10 April

Monteith and Br. back from G.G.S. with the same information roughly as I got at the Admiralty except that they did not know the station or hour of train departure tomorrow night. Then v. H. called bringing me back the original telegram to Berne which clearly has not been delivered to the messenger. (See my remarks on back of it) or else he has hurried off again home after sending his letter to me on 5 April.

What a fearful business! They will certainly be convinced in Dublin that the officers are coming – “this is imperative” – and yet the scoundrels have deliberately gone on with the enterprise, pushing those poor boys into the fire, knowing they need officers imperatively and that none could or would be sent.

Von Haugwitz says I must pay Mks 2010 for £75 gold – before the war it would have been about Mks 1500.

I was with Frau Remy-Barsch and Krebs a little in afternoon – and feeling most upset. She gave me some sleeping draught and I slept after dinner.

Tuesday 11 April

My last day in Berlin! Thank God – tomorrow my last day in Germany – again thank God, an English jail or – scaffold would be better than to dwell with these people longer.

All deception – all self-interest – all “on the make.”

Haugwitz called at 10 – and we interviewed Beverley and put it up to him. He comes gladly. I pointed out all the dangers and horrors and even impossibility of it – but he said he would gladly come.

So that is settled. Haugwitz was there and Monteith.

Now for some clothing for the voyage – I have only one thin suit – too cold – the suit Mr J.E. L. crossed in in Oct 1914!

Gaffney several times and Krebs – and Emerson to luncheon – He and Krebs fought or sparred. Differing types of American that is all.

I wrote a letter to the Chancellor about the Irish soldiers – also to Count Wedel about Gaffney and the men – and a farewell to the men to be left with Gaffney and handed to them.

Paid my bill at Saxonia – very dear – and they have swindled me over the doctor – two visits 60 mks!

These people are all swindlers.

Emerson’s story of the 6 mark lunch is the best I’ve heard. Guests to a private house here and then the host asked them to pay for their lunch. They offered 2 marks and he said it had cost so much so they paid 6 marks.

Haugwitz say the train goes at 9.30 tonight – and we are to go to G.G Staff before hand to get some final instructions – code for more arms etc. etc. Poison too.

Haugwitz assured Beverley in my presence and M’s that we should be put on shore in Ireland.

Nous verrons.

We shall be 12 days I reckon in the submarine – round by Orkneys probably. It will be a dreadful voyage – confined and airless and full of oil smells I fear.

My first fear is that we shall never land – but be kept off the shore until the “rebellion” breaks out, and if that does not materialise then taken back again to this land of Crooks. [There is a different ending in the MS 17,587 (4) typescript whose manuscript source is unknown: “I long only for peace and forgiveness and reconciliation. All my life is one of that – and yet I’ve turned it into a nest of Serpents at the end – oh! what a fate!”]

Captain – Lieut. Kirchheim will come down with us.

This is my last chance of writing. I have lost my spectacles yesterday – but as there will be nothing to read – or do on the submarine – the 12 days will pass very slowly and blindly in any case.

I told Emerson I was going to Munich! Alas! It is dreadful the lying I am put to.

He also wrote to his American friend and the custodian in Bavaria of his papers, Dr Charles Curry, on April 9th, a useful warning for future historians and scholars (PRONI T3787/21/7): “The Diaries are very poor stuff very poorly written and hastily put together – and would need much editing by a friend – for I often say things in them I should not like to stand for ever. It is so hard to see straight even when one is well and not troubled – and I am not well in body and have not been for long and then greatly troubled too in mind – so that my remarks are often unjust and hasty and ill considered.”



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