Monday, March 02, 2015

Ireland's postwar welcome for Nazi war criminals

In 1959 Otto Skorzeny, Hitler's favourite Nazi commando, famous for rescuing Mussolini, the Italian fascist leader, from an Italian hilltop fortress, and known as "the most dangerous man in Europe," became an Irish farmer. 
Winner of the Globe Gold Award (Documentary section) at the Intermedia World Media Festival in Hamburg, this 2007 two-part series sees Royal Air Force (RAF) veteran Cathal O'Shannon (1928-2011) uncover the truth about the war criminals and collaborators who found refuge in Ireland from the Catholic Church and officials in the years after World War 2.
RTÉ Archives, a unit of the Irish state broadcaster, does not appear to have the footage of the 2 programme documentary in 2007. A producer company appears to have the copyright. The Menten clip below is part of Programme 1.

Programme 1: Cathal O'Shannon begins with an investigation into the notorious Andrija Artukovic, Nazi Minister of the Interior in Croatia and the man responsible for the deaths of over 1,000,000 men, women and children in concentration camps. His time in Ireland was shrouded in mystery, as the Department of Foreign Affairs refused to release the file on this man.

The "Butcher of the Balkans" found sanctuary in the Dublin suburb of Rathgar in 1947 and was a regular attendee at mass at the local Catholic church.

Programme One also focused on Celestine Laine, leader of the Bezen Perrot, a Waffen SS unit responsible for the torture and murder of civilians in occupied Brittany, and Pieter Menten, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Jews in Poland.

History Ireland: Ireland's Nazis

Ireland's Nazis - Episode Two - Otto "Scarface" Skorzeny (2007)

BBC: How did Hitler's scar-faced henchman become an Irish farmer?

Skorzeny, who led the daring rescue of Mussolini from Allied hands, was a regular visitor to Ireland. He bought a farm in Co Kildare in 1959 and wanted to become a permanent resident there.

 Video here from 1959.

How a notorious Nazi war criminal was banned from his picturesque Waterford hideaway