help the nationalist cause.
Throughout his negotiations he insisted on this statement.However he missed an important point: the German interest in Ireland did not go as far as hehad somehow naively hoped for – the proclamation of good will towards the Irish people inconnection with a guarantee for their freedom in case of German victory in the war did notnecessarily mean military action on the German side. It did not really cost the Germangovernment anything, rather the opposite, as it had been convinced by the Irish like Devoy; ithelped them to fight back against Britain in the propaganda war that was on stage about the protection of small nations.The propaganda on behalf of the German-Irish connections has been fairly overlooked, andKluge declared it was not very successful overall.
On the other hand, Roger Casement was a professional in matters of propaganda thanks to his former projects, and as Angus Mitchellwas capable to prove he used his methods, especially letters to the editor, quite successfully inthis campaign too. Unfortunately it lay in the nature of his mission that many of thesedocuments were not signed in his actual name and therefore his work in the press is difficultto trace.
Nevertheless his impact on public opinion in Ireland, in Irish circles in the US andespecially amongst Republican Irishmen should not be underestimated. Actual military aid,however, was another matter, and was doomed to fail by strategic and political reasons as wellas by a lack of mutual understanding on both the Irish and the German side.The Irish Brigade was in the words of Elsasser “a failure of the first order”.
Not only that itwas a failure in itself with only 56 volunteers, but furthermore it lead to an early disagreement between Casement and the Clan na Gael:
Casement, who saw Ireland in a line with other nations that tried to overturn British rule, wrote a clause into the contract about the Brigade,that stated it might be used to fight the British in Egypt, if there was no chance to bring it toIreland. This viewpoint of a broader context of small nations to be freed from British rule had been played on since the earliest stages of Irish-German contact and in August the Clan naGael leaders wrote a letter to the Kaiser stating that “ideas cannot be arrested at a frontier +once the idea got root that a German victory meant freedom for an integral part of the “UnitedKingdom” the dominant hopes of Moslem + Hindu would constitute a new menace to British
Casement, New York, 5/10 September 1914, to Military attaché in US, Franz von Papen, in: German ForeignOffice:
Unternehmungen und Aufwiegelungen gegen unsere Feinde; unter den Iren,
Bd. 1-9. Aug., 1914 - Sept.20, 1915, (Copy) Microfilm NLI, n.4671, p.4659.
Mitchell, Angus: John Bull’s other empire. Sir Roger Casement and the press, 1898-1916, in: Potter,Simon(ed.):
Newspapers and Empire in Ireland and Britain c. 1857-1921,
(Dublin, 2004), 217-233, 226.
Germany and Ireland: 1000 years of shared history,
(Dublin, 1997), 33.
Sir Roger David Casement,
in: Dictionary of Irish Biography online, http://dib.cambridge.org by IP 192.168.60.9 on Tue Dec 08 12:12:07 GMT 2009, (Cambridge, 2009), 4.