Bonn. An exhibition in the Stadthaus looks at "Operation Shamrock", a largely unknown aid project after the Second World War. Special guests came to the opening.
Herbert Remmel was nine years old when he came to Ireland in 1946. But not voluntarily. Remmel belonged to about 450 boys and girls who had experienced a special German-Irish history. These are the children of the "Operation Shamrock" (German: "Operation Kleeblatt"). This was an Irish relief operation in which German children were brought to Ireland out of the need of the post-war period and lived with families there between 1946 and 1949.
Remmel is one of 14 of these children whose experiences in another culture with a foreign language, far away from home, are recorded in an exhibition. On the initiative of the German-Irish Society Bonn (DEIRGE) and in cooperation with the city, the exhibition can be seen in the foyer of the Stadthaus.
„'Operation Shamrock' is a barely known testimony of humanity", said DEIRGE President Peter Dietsch at the opening of the exhibition. The Irish have something like a genetic predisposition to help and give, said Monica Brandis, the journalist who conceived the exhibition.
Great history and small people
On 14 boards she has collected statements and experiences of the children of that time. According to Brandis, she is very interested in how the great story influences the lives of the young people. According to her research, most of the boys and girls had had good experiences in Ireland. For many children the return to Germany was difficult. Some even stayed in Ireland permanently.
Remmel remained there until 1949. Together with Hans Peter Boden, another former "Operation Shamrock" child, he had come to Bonn to report. When he arrived in the Irish port city of Dún Laoghaire in 1946, numerous people waited to give the German children a warm welcome, said Remmel, now 82 years old. He went to a farm in the county of Mayo in the west of the country via several stopovers.
Homesickness as trauma
Despite a very simple lifestyle it was a dream, says Remmel. "I didn't feel like a refugee and was integrated from day one." But of course there was also homesickness. Boden, 79 years old today, reported about this, visibly moved. Although he also had good experiences in Ireland, homesickness accompanied him as a trauma throughout his life.
The exhibition "The Children of Operation Shamrock" can be seen until Tuesday, June 25 in the Stadthausfoyer during normal opening hours.
(Original text: Christoph Meurer / Translation: Mareike Graepel)