by David Blake Knox
Dublin: New Island Press/Portland, Or.: International Specialized Book Services, 2012. Pp. x, 316.
Illus., notes. $29.99 paper. ISBN: 1848402007
Irish Sailors in Hitler’s Web
Among the millions of people who suffered at the hands of the Hiterite regime were 32 Irish citizens, and their experiences offer unique insights into the brutalities of the Nazi horror. Merchant seamen captured when their ships were captured or sunk, most of these men ended up doing forced labor, a small contingent among the vast horde of slaves put to work to prolong the Hitlerite Reich. Several of these men did not survive the privations, beatings, hunger, and disease.
By chance, Knox, an Irish-born television and film executive, stumbled upon the story of these men, one of whom was his cousin, and that led to this book. Knox not only gives us a well written account of the experiences of these men, but adds some interesting asides (e.g., the Irish nationalists who sought aid from Germany against England, the surprising number of men from the Irish Free State who enlisted in the British armed forces, etc).
Focused on the fate of fewer than three dozen men, Suddenly, While Abroad nevertheless is a valuable contribution to the literature of the Nazi horror, and serves to remind us that all of the millions of others who suffered were just ordinary people.