I began researching Austrian Contemporary History in Vienna in 1979, choosing as my topic the socialdemocratic paramilitary organisation Republikanischer Schutzbund. My especial interest was how former members saw their activities in the organisation in retrospect. Most of them took part in the Austrian Civil War of February 1934. Immediately after completing my dissertation in 1990 I began to investigate the fate of those members of the Schutzbund who fled via Czechoslovakia to the Soviet Union. Of the approx. 800 political refugees from Austria, 250 were arrested. Most died in confinement or were executed.
During numerous sojourns in Moscow in the 1990s I also looked at all material from the Communist International pertaining to Ireland, including the Communist Party of Ireland and its cadres sent to the International Lenin School in Moscow from 1928. My colleague Emmet O’Connor later published widely on party and trade union links between Ireland and the USSR.
Using communist party files and dossiers compiled by the Soviet secret police NKVD I wrote/co-wrote/edited three books on those Austrians arrested in Stalin’s Russia, a monograph on his Irish victims and a TV documentary. My last publication in this field was a joint study with two Austrian colleagues on Communism in Austria between the wars, especially how Soviet party and secret agencies used Vienna as a base for operations.
My present research interest is the Spanish Civil War, not least the expierence of Irish volunteers in the International Brigades, a joint project with Emmet O’Connor. I wrote a preliminary study in 2014, taking the six volunteers from my native region, the city and county of Limerick, as examples of international solidarity.