Charles Bewley

Biographical informationBiographical informationCritical studiesExtracts from criticismQuotations from worksQuotations from worksMiscellaneous information

Life
1888-1969; b.12 July 1888, Dublin; son of a Quaker doctor and Evelyn Pim (C. of I.) of the Dublin department-store family; ed. at Quaker primary school in Ireland, then Park House (Prep. School) and Winchester Coll., 1901; claimed in debate that England was not a musical nation and disparaged the national anthem ("God Save the King"), and proceeded and New College, Oxford on a Wyckhamite scholarship, reading Law; winner of Newdidgate Poetry Prize; became pronounced nationalist in childhood - probably in reaction against middle-class Dublin; supported the Irish Literary Revival and converted to Catholicism;

entered Irish bar; defended Republicans prisoners in court martials, 1919-21, and later prosecuted Republicans for the Free State government; stood as Sinn Féin candidate in west of Ireland, 1919; represented Ireland as trade representative in Berlin, 1921-23 - where clashed with Nancy Wyse-Power; purportedly wrote [General] Seán Mac Eoin’s death-sentence speech (June 1921); launched into anti-Semitic diatribe at a Berlin musichall when in company with Robert Briscoe (IRA Quartermaster then visiting on arms business, and later first Jewish mayor of Dublin), resulting in drunken brawl, and came into conflict with John Chartres, head of Irish bureau; appt. Irish Ambassador to the Vatican, 1929; annointed [i.e., appt.] to the Order of the Grand Cross of St Gregory the Great, by the Pope, July 1933, to the annoyance of the British ministry;

appt. Irish Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary [ambassador] in Berlin, July 1933; evinced pro-fascist sympathies, contributing anti-British articles to the Goebbels press; wrote a report on Kystallnacht to the Irish govt. [Foreign Affairs] which subsequently became notorious for its blatantly anti-semitic tone and arguments; also supplied Nazis with MS biography of de Valera and information on other Irish politicians; lost favour with Irish govt. after cessation of Economic War and return of Treaty Ports; deemed to have prevented escape visas from Germany for numerous Jews but not to have been virulently anti-semitic in his personal outlook;

recalled to Dublin and dismissed from diplomatic service at instance of Eamon de Valera, Aug. 1939; received no pension and worked in Sweden for Hermann Göring’s propaganda press; arrested by Allies in N. Italy at the end of the war and interned in Terni, May 1945; released to live in Rome on new Irish passport by arrangement between British and Irish diplomats, being cited as ‘a person of no importance’; played bridge with Italian princesses and discussed liturgy with the Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty [the Irish Pimpernel]; died in Rome; his report on Kristallnacht was exposed in Nov. 2013 at the 75th anniversary when the report, originally filed on 9 Nov. 1938 - a month after the event - was exhibited at the former Jewish synagogue in the Rath [Berlin].

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Works
Herman Goering and the Third Reich (NY 1962); [Lt.-Col. Charles Bewley,] Diary of a Wild Goose (Dublin: Lilliput 1989), 296pp. [regarded as sanitised]

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Criticism
J. P. Duggan, ‘An Undiplomatic Diplomat: C. H. Bewley (1888-1969)’, in Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review 90, 358 (Summer 2001), 207-14; Andreas Roth, Mr Bewley in Berlin: Aspects of the Career of an Irish Diplomat (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2000), 120pp.

See also Mervyn O’Driscoll, Ireland, Germany and the Nazis: Politics and Diplomacy, 1919–1939 (Four Courts Press, £55); Dermot Keogh, Jews in twentieth-century Ireland (Cork UP 1998).

Note: Derek Scally gives an account of Bewley’s 13-page report on Kristallnacht, when Jewish premises and property was vandalised and fired by Nazi mobs, in The Irish Times (9 Nov. 2013, p.13).

There is a Wikipedia pages on Bewley - online; accessed 18 Nov. 2013.

 

Notes
Republican reprieved: Seán MacEoin’s political memoir covering the events of the Irish War of Independence held in typescript by the Bureau of Military History 1913-21 - Statement by Witness documetn No. WS 1716 shows that he was sentenced for the murder of Detective-Inspector Thomas McGrath at Kilshruley and reprieved through the intervention of Frank Hemming, private emissary of Lloyd George. See .pdf online; accessed.

MacEoin’s Dock Speech

You try me not as an officer but as a murderer ... because I took arms in defence of my native land. The principle which is proper for the Jugo-Slavs. the Czecho-Slovaks, the Belgians, the Serbians, is equally a proper principle for the Irish.

That stand has been fully approved by the Irish people. I am glad that, in carrying out my duty to my country, I have always acted in proper accord with the usages of war.

I crave no favour. I am an officer of the Irish Army, and I merely claim the right, at your hands, that you would receive at mine, had the fortunes of war reversed the positions.

If you don’t give me that right, but execute me instead, then my last request is [202] that you give my dead body to my relatives, so that my remains may be laid to rest among my own people. Long live the Republic!

 

As given [with narrative interventions excluded] in MacEoin’s Witness Statement ot the Bureau of Military History - see .pdf online;

Whodunit? Bewley’s authorship of MacEoin’s dock speech was attested by Oliver St. John Gogarty. MacEoin was born as John Joseph J. McKeown and was Brigade Director of Operations and O/C [Officer Commanding] of North Longford A.S.U., later member of Dáil Éireann and a Govt. Minister.

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