|Dokumentations- und Gedenkstätte
Geschichtslehrpfad Lagerstraße/U-Boot-Bunker Valentin e.V.
Gerald O'Hara (1893-1944)
An Irish Seaman of the British Merchant Navy
- Introduction -
If one talks about the Second World War in particular about
the crimes of the Nazis, first you will see the landmarks of scare, the main
places of barbarianism which you cannot and should not ignore. One knows the
pictures as one learns a lot about in school and as these topics are always
present in the medias.
The catastrophe of these years not only happened in a limited area, it was in fact a World War, a war which caused suffering to people of different nations.
Born in 1892 in Ireland, Gerald O’Hara, who came from
the city of Ballina in County Mayo, was one of these. He died in 1944 in Bremen
Gerald was born in a poor country which did not offer many perspectives for the future. That is why talented people often saw themselves forced to leave their country to England or the USA in favour of their career.
Gerald O’Hara was a gifted and young man who managed it to begin an apprenticeship as a Radio Officer because of his good academic grades. At the beginning of the 20th century Radio communication was absolute high technology. With this qualification Gerald was a demanded specialist in attendance on the British Merchant Navy and who was promoted quickly. In the early 30's he finally served on vessels like the Britannic or Georgic around the world. These luxury liners were considered as the successor of the Titanic and were run by the same shipping company.
But the Second World War approached and the luxury liners were renovated to troopships. In 1940 Gerald changed to a smaller ship, the SS Devon. In 1941, in front of the Galapagos Islands, the Devon was captured by the camouflaged German war ship KOMET and Gerald was captivated, together with the other seamen and passengers. But after all, his odyssey ended in the labour and training camp Bremen Farge in Germany.
Gerald O’Hara never saw Ireland again. He died of a Lung disease. He also did not see his wife and his both kids Padraic and Edward again.
Edward O’Hara’s wife Máire found years
ago an advertise newspaper over the Irish Seamens Relatives Association in
a Dublin. They were looking for Irish seamen’s relatives, who were interned
in German camps. But Edward did not want to have anything to do with it. However
Máire decided to call the number mentioned in the advertisement. She
got in contact with Peter Mulvany, who together with this organisation has
rekindled the memory of the fates caused by WWII of these Irish seamen and
their families back into society.
In October of 2006 Edward and Eamon O’Hara (Edward’s son) decided to take part in a series of lectures across northwest Germany, which was also the result of the advertisement that Edward originally did not want to answer.
During this trip they both were able to relay the fate of their father to many people; a man who was a civilian and citizen of a country neutral in WWII and who got tangled up in the grinds of history. Last but not least this trip served as a venue to work out their own O’Hara family history, for on the part on the Irish the fate of the seamen had been repressed for decades, the fate of men like Gerald O’Hara from Ballina in County Mayo
Bastian Spille, Januar 2007