Monday, May 20, 2013

World War II Irish "Deserters" Pardoned

For World War II to still be spilling out new stories nearly 70 years later really gives you a sense of the immense global impact it had. Apart from the occasional '92 year old World War II Nazi goes to trail' headline, there are fascinating articles still emerging (with happy endings).  

Irish parliament recently passed an amnesty on thousands of troops who had left their army to join the fight against Hitler and Nazism. These soldiers suffered a lifetime of ostracism as they ultimately went against Ireland's wishes to remain neutral in the war. Nearly 60,000 of Ireland's citizens fought for the anti-Nazi allies with five thousand of them found guilty of desertion. This left them without military pensions and barred from any state work for seven years.

Ireland's Defense Minister says, "these individuals contributed in no small part to the allied victory against tyranny and totalitarianism... their efforts, in an indirect way, also contributed to the safety of their home country... If the United Kingdom had fallen to the forces of Nazi Germany, the same fate would almost certainly have been visited on this island, with all of the consequences that would have gone with it." 

Unfortunately, only a handful of these people are still alive but the Minister hoped that the amnesty would restore their reputations and help their families find peace.


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