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Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Clonan, T., 2010: What If?: Hitler's Invasion Plans For Ireland, Dublin: The Irish Times.


Seventy years ago this summer, Hitler’s general staff drew up detailed plans to invade Ireland. In June of 1940, Germany’s 1st Panzer Division had just driven the British Expeditionary Force into the sea at Dunkirk. Churchill labeled Britain’s rout and the evacuation of approximately 330,000 British and allied troops a ‘miracle of deliverance’. The Nazis intoxicated with their victory in France considered themselves unstoppable and were determined to press their advance into Britain and Ireland. Germany’s invasion plans for Britain were codenamed ‘Operation Sealion’. Their invasion plans for Ireland were codenamed ‘Unternehmen Grun’ or ‘Operation Green’. Like Operation Sealion, Operation Green was never executed. The Nazis failed to achieve air superiority over the English Channel that summer. By the autumn of 1940 the ‘Battle of Britain’ had been won by the RAF and Hitler postponed his British and Irish invasion plans. Some military historians also believe that the plans for Operation Green, drawn up in minute detail, may have been a feint - part of a wider Wermacht deception plan to divert British resources away from Germany’s invasion of southern England. However, had the RAF been overwhelmed by the Luftwaffe that summer – Operation Green gives a sobering insight into what fate neutral Ireland would have suffered at the hands of the Nazis.