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An Irish Sanctuary

German-speaking Refugees in Ireland 1933–1945

Now in Paperback

The monograph provides the first comprehensive, detailed account of German-speaking refugees in Ireland 1933-1945 - where they came from, immigration policy towards them and how their lives turned out in Ireland and afterwards. Thanks to unprecedented access to thousands of files of the Irish Department of Justice (all still officially closed) as well as extensive archive research in Ireland, Germany, England, Austria as well as the US and numerous interviews it is possible for the first time to give an almost complete overview of how many people came, how they contributed to Ireland, how this fits in with the history of migration to Ireland and what can be learned from it.
While Exile studies are a well-developed research area and have benefited from the work of research centres and archives in Germany, Austria, Great Britain and the USA (Frankfurt/M, Leipzig, Hamburg, Berlin, Innsbruck, Graz, Vienna, London and SUNY Albany and the Leo Baeck Institutes), Ireland was long neglected in this regard. Instead of the usual narrative of "no one was let in" or "only a handful came to Ireland" the authors identified more than 300 refugees through interviews and intensive research in Irish, German and Austrian archives. German-speaking exiles were the first main group of immigrants that came to the young Irish Free State from 1933 onwards and they had a considerable impact on academic, industrial and religious developments in Ireland.


"This is an important book that manages to be both highly informative and, at times, very affecting. […] now undoubtedly the definitive account of German-speaking refugees in Ireland during the Nazi period. Any lingering questions on this topic have now been fully answered." Fergal Lenehan, Dublin Review of Books, 1 December 2017

"This important book […] corrects the assumption that small numbers of arrivals meant a small effect, or that small numbers required little effort. […] [it] makes a compelling and timely case for widening and deepening the Irish historical narrative to include those who became part of our society during a time of crisis – and those who helped them." Derek Scally, How Ireland failed refugees from Nazi Germany, Irish Times, 4 February 2017

"Gisela Holfter and Horst Dickel have produced a comprehensive account of the German speaking refugees who came to the Republic of Ireland prior to the outbreak of war. Over 400 pages densely packed with people, places and facts it is a marvellous reference guide, where the refugees came from, how they arrived in Ireland and how they survived the war years." Glynn Douglas, The Friendly Word, September-October 2017, Volume 34, Issue 5, pp. 6-7

"This book, by two pre-eminent scholars of Irish-German relations, will no doubt be seen in future as the seminal work on the subject of German-speaking refugees in Ireland […] Holfter’s and Dickel’s research into the life and work of this small band of refugees draws on an impressive array of archival and other sources and their book is meticulously researched and footnoted." Prof Charmian Brinson (Imperial College London), AJR, vol 17/no 10, October 2017, pp. 10-11.

"Holfter und Dickel haben ohne Zweifel das grundlegende Werk zum deutschsprachigen Exil der 1930er und 1940er Jahre in Irland geschrieben, sie haben eine Gesamtdarstellung vorgelegt, die an Grund- und Detailkenntnissen kaum zu übertreffen ist, aber natürlich in weiteren Details ergänzt werden wird. [...] Die über zwanzigjährigen Forschungen der Autoren haben die ihnen gebührende Form der Präsentation gefunden, den Autoren kann man dafür nicht genug danken." Wilbert Ubbens in: Informationsmittel für Bibliotheken http://www.informationsmittel-fuer-bibliotheken.de/showfile.php?id=8490

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Audience: Historians and exile researchers in Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom; a broad academic audience in Ireland