The German – Amazing Short Film on Ireland in WWII

A scene from The German, by Nick Ryan.

The German is a stunning Irish short written and directed by Nick Ryan. The film, which was made in 2007 and went up online a few months ago, features a British fighter pilot in pursuit of a German who killed his fellow Allied soldier and friend in mid-air combat. It presents a quiet but insightful snapshot of Ireland’s neutrality during WWII.

Ryan received a grant from the Irish Film Board and completed all of the live action elements  of the film on a budget of € 70,000 – leaving him no money for the special effects. Over the course of six months in 2008, he painstakingly added them himself, working on all 120 shots of the film. The second video below gives a sense of all that the visual effects entailed.



17 Responses to “The German – Amazing Short Film on Ireland in WWII”

  1. Dennis Klevickas says:

    The quality of this film was as good if not better than any I have seen from hollywood.
    The story line and acting were superb.
    And best of all, being somewhat of a history buff, I just learned something about Ireland’s role and postion during WWII that I never knew before, in a remarkable of time of less than 10 minutes.
    Thank you for making this great film available.

    • Dwight Jenkins says:

      Agreed. Just got back yesterday from a tour of Ireland (Paddywagon Tours) and our tour director taught us about this, both from a WWI and WWII perspective. I did not realize at all the complexities and difficult choices made by the Irish people. This little film captured the essence of them perfectly. Well done!

  2. Thomas says:

    With just over 20 min of autonomy over Britain for fighting how could have a German fighter ened in Ireland?
    There was no fonctional German aircraft-carrier.

    • Tom Kennedy says:

      The fact is that Ireland was bombed mistakenly more than once by German aircraft – in Dublin and Wexford. See http://www.csn.ul.ie/~dan/war/bombings.html for more detail.

      The German, British and ex-combatants of other nationalities were interned in the Curragh prison camp in Kildare near Dublin. It wasn’t a “prison” in any real sense except that internees could not return to their own countries until after the war. Prisoners could visit the local pubs, one British officer had his horse sent over from England so he could go hunting!

      See http://www.express.co.uk/expressyourself/255828/The-Cushiest-PoW-camp for more detail.

      • Richard says:

        Dublin was never “mistakenly” bombed by the Germans, it was bombed as a warning to Ireland about what was waiting for it if it got involved. The warning was effective, in that Ireland did not get involved, However, many men from the country joined the British Army and fought that way. The Irish soldiers who did that were subject to “starvation orders” and basically forced into exile. There was a story about one of them who helped liberate Bergen-Belsen and on return home was treated like a pariah, as was the intention. He eventually had to move to England.

  3. Thomas Milo says:

    Ireland was well out of range of any German fighter plane.

  4. Murph says:

    Wonderful piece of work. All of my ancestry comes from the west coast of Ireland but my father was a first generation American who fought with the Second Armored division in the U.S. Army (Brad Pitts unit in the film “Fury”). He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and saw concentration camps. I wish he could have spent the war in an Irish prison camp instead like the 2 guys in this film.

    • Richard says:

      Luckily not all countries behaved like Ireland, or Hitler would have won. I had relatives who were Irish Jews, and left Ireland after the pogrom in Limerick, and went to South Africa. One of them became a Spitfire pilot.

      • Murph says:

        Hi Richard. I am sorry that happened to your relatives. From an Irish point of view, the war started only after Ireland finally was independent from Britain for only 17 years after centuries of dominating persecution. Some of that persecution was forcing Irish citizens to fight in Britain’s endless wars with other nations to build its empire. It was important for Ireland to assert itself as being apart from Britain as a separate and sovereign independent nation. But I do believe that individual Irishman who chose to fight as a matter of personal conscience should have been respected as well.

        • Richard says:

          Where I am from – South Africa – there were very large numbers of Irish who did very well out of the British Empire. Were the numbers of Irish forced, as you say, to fight in Britain’s wars higher than those from other parts of Britain? I still cannot believe the mentality that applied starvation orders to people who helped liberate concentration camps. If I were Irish, I could do nothing but hang my head in shame at this sort of thing: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16287211

          • Murph says:

            The attitude that the Irish had was simply what was created from the British persecution they experienced for centuries. As an example, a million Irish people died during the famine not because of the potato blight itself but because of the mismanagement of the British government concerning the food supply that was available in the country. Their persecution was aimed specifically to the poor Catholic population that they had forced into poverty by their sectarian laws.

          • Richard says:

            The history of Ireland is a complex thing, of course. That is not denied. I just can’t understand how after the War had ended, and the facts were available for all to see, that people who liberated concentration camps could have been subjected to starvation orders. It is nothing but diabolical to my mind. The conflagration was not Britain against Germany, many others were involved, and many others had to be liberated. Leading up to the War I can understand, if you were anti-British or pro-German, but not afterwards. These people were actively pursued and denigrated. And of course from my perspective, aiding and abetting the Final Solution.

  5. Murph says:

    The soldiers in question were not demeaned because they fought against Germany or liberated concentration camps but because they left Ireland at a time when it was expected that Irishman stay and protect their country from any possible invasion from either side. Unlike other nations in Europe, Ireland had been already occupied by an oppressive power for centuries. From the Irish point of view is was not inconceivable for Germany to try to occupy Ireland in order to attack Britain from the west or for Britain to try to reoccupy Ireland in order prevent such an attack. After finally being free from any occupying force for only 17 years after centuries of having to endure it, it was expected of young Irishman to stay and defend against any such possibility. Looking back at history such a point of view would seem to be absurd but as examples America did not think it would be attacked by Japan and Russia did not think it would be attacked by Germany. It was a crazy time for the world and nations all over the globe were being occupied by foreign enemies. Britain at this time showed itself to be a courageous force against evil but Ireland for so long had experienced the other side of it. But as I mentioned before I don’t believe it was right to treat soldiers badly who acted out of conscience to leave and fight. In any event that I will say that living in America I have experienced that their is an equal respect and friendship between Irish Catholics and Jews as they have both known a history of religious persecution. (My daughter works as a lifeguard at the local Jewish health center.) In any event best wishes to you and Shalom!

    • Richard says:

      My comment is restricted to the events surrounding the War. I still don’t understand how the orders were enforced AFTER the War, and continued at least until 2011, as the article I posed stated. For instance, in South Africa, there were Afrikaners who were unashamedly pro-Nazi and fought against South Africa’s interests. They were released afterwards, it being understood what was necessary to create the right atmosphere. This is the exact opposite situation, where people were punished afterwards. In any event, what happened, happened. Whether I understand it or not changes nothing.

  6. Sean Curtain says:

    One of the R.A.F.s most famous fighter pilots in that war was Dubliner BRENDAN FINUCANE, who at the age of 21 years and 10 months became the Britain’s youngest Wing Commander ever. Finnucane’s father was no stranger to the British military either, having been one of the 1916 rebels. Wing Commander Finnucane is known to have shot down 28 enemy before he met his end on 15 July, 1943.

    • MURPH says:

      Hi Sean, Thank you for your comments. I had just finished watching the film….”The Wind that Shakes the Barley”….when I saw your messages. My grandparents were originally from Galway and Mayo. My father grew up here in America and was a decorated soldier in WWII. So this film brings up emotions for many reasons. Were are you from?

  7. Sean Curtain says:

    I should also mention that in mid-April, 1941, the authorities in Belfast requested help from Dublin to put out fires caused by German bombing in the Northern city. At first Taoiseach de Valera refused lest that it would violate the neutrality of the independent Irish state, But he soon changed his mind, and fire-fighting trucks from Dublin soon raced to Belfast, Drogheda and Dundalk also provided assistance to the northern capital. This incident clearly shows that Belfast is in Ireland, NOT in Britain.

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