Seán Lester was honored in Gdansk City Hall yesterday by government officials who praised the former high commissioners for the League of Nations. Dr Lester respresented a lone opposing voice as he watched the rise of the Nazis in the city. He was outspoken in his views and warned of the looming disaster for Europe.
Dr Lester’s daughter Ann returned to the city where she grew up to accept the honor on his behalf.
“Lester was the one of the first non-Germans to see the Nazi mask slip,” said Paul McNamara, author of a compelling biography on Dr Lester’s Danzig years. “The city was a laboratory for Nazi practices years before the war.” By mid-1936 the situation had become impossible for the Lester family in Danzig: shunned by German friends, the house was under surveillance and their phone was tapped.
John Ernest Sean Lester was born on September 1888 in Woodburn Carrickfergus Co. Antrim. After the family moved to Belfast in the 1890’s Lester concluded his education at the Methodist College.
He began working as a journalist on regional newspapers before moving to the Freeman’s journal in Dublin. In his role as a free stater he was invited to join the Department of External Affairs in 1922. His hard work and networking skills landed him with the high representative job in Danzig. He passed away in 1959 after retiring in Connemara.