'The Fox of Glenarvon' (1940) had demonstrated, via Kimmich, the Nazis' tender solicitude for the liberties of small nations: specifically Ireland. In 'My Life for Ireland' next year Kimmich came up with a story so inept and ahistorical that it makes American pabulum look like Edward Gibbon. One doubts that Goebbels, a sophisticated analyst of politics, saw it as more than prolefeed.
To take only the first scene: we are told this is 'Dublin' in 1903. Now as far as I know the Irish capital is not an isolated peasant's hut in what looks like a small studio rain forest. I do know that by 1903 Ireland was quieter than for many centuries. The Potato Famine and the widespread evictions that followed were long past.
Thanks to a combination of carrot and stick by the United Kingdom government, and increasing integration of Ireland into the economy and political system with deliberate over-representation in Parliament, the Irish were tending to become what some derided as 'West Britons'. Would-be revolutionaries were in despair of attaining Home Rule, far less fullblown independence.
The Irish government had a highly effective espionage network which detected no dangerous dissatisfaction. It is the quiescent land depicted by Joyce in 'Ulysses', not that of David Lean and Robert Bolt in 'Ryan's Daughter. But according to Kimmich, an armed struggle was in progress, and the English were still evicting bankrupt tenants-- commanded by a portly 'sheriff' who dies leading an unarmed charge on the rebels.
His troops are 'English' policemen-- seemingly the Royal Irish Constabulary has been stood down. The rebels, who have been blazing away without worrying if they hit the hovel's native inhabitants, are caught. All are sentenced to death within 24 hours by a military court apparently composed exclusively of Brigade of Guards officers. The condemned are hung on 'short drop' gallows (actually done away with half a century earlier), escorted to their doom by soldiers in bearskins. Any resemblance to due process of law in peacetime Edwardian Britain is entirely accidental.
The rebel leader is allowed to marry his sweetheart shortly beforehand in an obvious echo of Joseph Plunkett in the 1916 Easter Rising. Her being already pregnant with his son hardly consorts with middle-class Irish Catholic morality of the times. It does, though, suit the current Nazi wartime rhetoric about tolerating illegitimacy to restock the race.
Eighteen years later the situation becomes more baffling. The son is now being educated and brainwashed at an English-style public school; the oppressive government has decided to convert the sons of rebels instead of marginalising them. Yet the country is still seething according to the cowardly VC winner 'Sir George', played like a typical Prussian junker complete with monocle. Cue the next generation of heroic liberation struggle, begun on the playing fields of 'St Edward's College'.
Back on boring old Planet Reality, by 1921 most of Ireland had already become the Irish Free State. There certainly were ructions, more than in the preceding independence struggle of 1916-20; but they were due to civil war between different factions of the Irish Republican Army. The English had packed up and left. Twenty years seems rather a short spell in which to have forgotten the chronology.
Ah well, perhaps this farrago distracted a few Fritzes and Friedas while the RAF was hitting back and Hitler was preparing to attack the Soviet Union. It may well be that audiences in some of the small countries Adolf had introduced to the blessings of the New Order sympathised with the Irish of the movie in the wrong way, identifying the oppressors with Germany. But it might have tickled cynical cinema-goers more to know what the Fuhrer had in mind for the object of Kimmich's solicitude.
In 1916 Hitler's predecessor, the Kaiser, had promised help to the leaders of the Rising, then left them in the lurch. Hitler despised the reactionary Catholic regime of the Free State and had ordered his generals to frame plans for a protective occupation if it showed any signs of softening towards the Allies... for which they contemptuously assigned just two battalions of the Wehrmacht.
The Nazis not only cried crocodile tears for the Irish; they did not rate their fighting prowess very highly. But after the Battle of Britain, any stick would do to try to portray the Reich's undefeated enemy as the really cruel tyrant.