A valuable collection of Roger Casement memorabilia has been presented to UCD by Dr Carl Boehm of Cologne. He handed over 16 letters, photographs and commemorative medals to the UCD Archives Department, fulfilling a last wish of his father, Captain Hans Boehm, who had acted as interpreter between Roger Casement and the German authorities in 1915 when the Irish patriot was attempting to form an Irish Brigade from Irish POWs in Limburg.
The letters show Casement's clear frustration at not receiving the level of cooperation he wanted from the Germans in this matter. In one he is inadvertently prophetic about his own death, which occurred a little over a year later when he had returned to Ireland in a German submarine but was subsequently captured by the British and hanged.
Carl Boehm served as a squadron leader in the Second World War, and after being shot down and injured he was assigned as Air Attache to Dublin. But as he was waiting for his flight to Dublin on Christmas Eve, 1940, on a civilian Lufthansa Junkers plane, the proposed landing was refused permission personally by Mr DeValera on the grounds that the plane was 'war suspicious' because it was of a type also used by the Luftwaffe.
Dr Boehm was afterwards assigned to the German High Command and eventually participated in the surrender of Germany as an interpreter. At 85 he is the only surviving member of the delegation which signed the surrender.
He recalls that it was an act performed twice . . . once with General Eisenhower and the following day with Marshal Zhukov of the Soviet Union.
Among the memorabilia presented to UCD is a handwritten letter from a British minister, authorising a £5,000 reward for Casement's capture. There is also a photograph of Casement signed by himself, and photographs of the POW camp at Limburg, where the Irish prisoners in World War 1 were incarcerated.
Accepting what he termed a 'generous and significant' donation, the President, Dr Cosgrove, said the items made a splendid addition to the collection of papers relating to Irish History which had been built up in the Archives Department.