My Life for Ireland

My Life for Ireland (German: Mein Leben für Irland) is a Nazi propaganda movie from 1941 directed by Max W. Kimmich, covering a story of Irish heroism and martyrdom over two generations under the occupation of the British. The movie was produced for Nazi-occupied Europe with the intent of challenging pro-British allegiances; yet in some cases it had the unintended effect to make audiences identify the Irish struggle with their own resistance against the Nazis.[1]


The film covers the story of two generations of an Irish nationalist family; starting with Michael O'Brien (Werner Hinz) and following with his son, also Michael (Will Quadflieg), eighteen years later in 1921.

The film commences in Dublin in 1903. A squad of police officers break into a thatched hovel and evict the family, throwing a young child to the floor. However they are ambushed by a group of Irish Nationalists and a long fire fight ensues. Michael O'Brien is captured and is sentenced to death. While he is in jail, his pregnant fiancée Maeve visits him and they are secretly married. Afterwards, Michael hands his wife a silver cross that will always be worn by the best Irish freedom fighter. On the cross, the words My life for Ireland are engraved.

Eighteen years later, in 1921, his son Michael Jr. is expecting to pass his school leaving exams. As the son of an infamous Irish nationalist, he has been educated at St Edwards College, a school run by British teachers. In this way the British government attempts to re-educate Irish pupils into "worthful" British civilians. Making them as they think they should be.



This film contributed to the era of anti-British film.[2] In this film, as in Der Fuchs von Glenarvon, the British are depicted as brutal and unscrupulous oppressors but no match for the Irish.[3] A British officer, for instance, simply abandons an Irish sergeant on the battlefield, taking the last water bottle with him, and winning the Victoria Cross.[4] It lacks, however, the cruder propaganda of later films, such as Carl Peters and Ohm Krüger, when Hitler had given up hope of making peace with Great Britain.[5] The anti-British atmosphere of the film, however, can be judged from the opening sequence, which depicts a meeting of Irish revolutionaries:[6]

ASSEMBLY: We must build new roads
LEADER: With what shall we build new roads?
ASSEMBLY: With the bones of our enemy!
LEADER: And who is our enemy?
ASSEMBLY: England!

Some German viewers in ethnically mixed areas expressed fears that it would stimulate Poles to rebellion.[7] The film, however, enjoyed a positive response from many audiences.[8]


  1. Deirdre Reynolds. "Video Nazis", The Sun, 27 January 2007
  2. Cinzia Romani, Tainted Goddesses: Female Film Stars of the Third Reich p. 69 ISBN 0-9627613-1-1
  3. Erwin Leiser, Nazi Cinema, p. 97 ISBN 0-02-570230-0
  4. Erwin Leiser, Nazi Cinema, pp. 97-8 ISBN 0-02-570230-0
  5. Erwin Leiser, Nazi Cinema, p. 98 ISBN 0-02-570230-0
  6. Welch, David (2001). Propaganda and the German cinema, 1933-1945. Tauris, p. 228. ISBN 1-86064-520-8
  7. Richard Grunberger, The 12-Year Reich, p. 385, ISBN 0-03-076435-1
  8. Fox, Jo (2007). Film propaganda in Britain and Nazi Germany: World War II cinema. Berg Publishers, p. 171. ISBN 1-85973-896-6

External links

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