Under the Swastika: The Irish in Wartime Paris: Documentary On Newstalk

A new documentary tells the story of the Irish trapped in Paris under the Nazi Occupation.

Under the Swastika: The Irish in Wartime Paris: Documentary On Newstalk

Resistance fighters in Paris 1944

“Under the Swastika: The Irish in Wartime Paris”  will be broadcast on Newstalk 106 – 108FM this Sunday 14th October at 7am with a repeat on Saturday 20th October at 10pm.

“Under the Swastika: The Irish in Wartime Paris”, produced by J.J. O’Shea, tells the story of the Irish people caught in Wartime Paris under the Occupation as their lives evolved against the background of an increasingly dangerous situation in the “City of Light.” It looks at the relations of the Department of External Affairs in Dublin to the Irish stranded in wartime Paris and the attitude of the Irish Legation in Vichy to unfolding events. Historians Isadore Ryan and Cathal Mansfield share their expertise as they explore the theme drawing on personal letters and government reports while actors bring the events to life with contemporaneous accounts drawn from Irish, French and German sources.

The programme focuses on some key characters from different backgrounds who are now forgotten but deserve to be better known. These include Count Gerald O`Kelly de Gallagh who was a former diplomat in the Irish Embassy in Paris and was able to offer crucial help to the Irish community as an unofficial government representative while simultaneously operating a wine business that counted Herman Goering amongst its clients, Janie McCarthy, a teacher from Killarney, who tirelessly worked with the Paris Resistance from the start of the occupation, a claim few French people could make, and who was awarded the Croix de Guerre for her bravery, and Margaret Kelly, who was better known under her stage name of “Bluebell,” and who astutely hid and protected her Jewish husband from the Nazi and Vichy authorities in the most difficult of circumstances.

The significant role played by the Irish clergy in Paris is also revealed showing the importance of St. Joseph`s Church which was run by Irish Priests of the Passionist Order on the Avenue Hoche.  During the Occupation St. Joseph`s was the main focus point for the Irish community. Those who knocked on the presbytery door could reliably depend on a bed for the night, or a meal, but its members also helped downed Allied airmen as they tried to escape, earning the priests of St. Joseph`s thanks from the American War Department after the conflict. However the priests declined to accept any awards for their services stating they worked for “God and humanity, not medals.”

“Under the Swastika: The Irish in Wartime Paris” will be broadcast on Newstalk 106 – 108FM this Sunday 14th October at 7am with a repeat on Saturday 20th October at 10pm.

CREDITS: "Under the Swastika: The Irish in Wartime Paris" was Produced and Presented by J.J. O`Shea. This programme was supported by a grant from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, as part of the Sound and Vision Scheme.

LISTEN LIVE: Listen live on www.newstalk.com

PODCAST: The programme will be available for download from newstalk.com after the broadcast.