WW2 – German agents in Ireland #1

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Before the Second World War the IRA had some contact with the Abwehr (German Military Intelligence) and acquired a radio transmitter powerful enough to communicate with Germany. However, starting in November 1939, the IRA used the transmitter to broadcast regularly to the Irish people, as ‘The Irish Republican Army broadcasting station.’ The regularity of the broadcast made it easy for the Gardaí (Irish police) to triangulate and seize the transmitter.

The Abwehr chose Ernest Weber-Drohl (WD for short) to travel as an agent to Ireland with a replacement transmitter, a message for the IRA and some cash. U-boat transport was organized. Immediately upon leaving the U-boat off the west coast of Ireland, in 1940, WD’s rubber dinghy capsized and he lost the transmitter. The U-boat crew took him ashore where he met with his IRA contact and delivered the message and the money.

WD was an arthritic 61 year-old Austrian with ‘passable’ English. Before the war he had traveled in Ireland, working as a circus strongman and professional wrestler. He had also fathered 2 illegitimate children in Ireland.

Shortly after his arrival in the country he was arrested and charged with illegal entry. In his defense he spun an elaborate tale of woe. Cruelly separated from his family by the war, and having no legitimate way of entering the country, he had disembarked from a cargo steamer off the coast of Waterford and lost all his possessions, including his money and his passport, in the sea. The court swallowed this story. WD was fined £3 and released. The Irish intelligence service (G2) was not convinced, and they arrested and interned him. WD went on hunger strike and he was soon released again.

Next, he arranged a tour of his strongman act to Belfast, Limerick and Cork, accompanied by a young married woman called Parker, whose husband was serving in the army in North Africa. Mrs. Parker soon became pregnant.

In August 1942, he was re-arrested by G2 and interned until the end of the war.

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Source: Irish Secrets by Mark M. Hull Irish Academic Press, 2003 0-7165-2756-1

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