GREAT TROLLS OF HISTORY
LORD HAW HAW
William Joyce (24 April 1906 – 3 January 1946), nicknamed Lord Haw-Haw, was an Irish-American fascist politician and Nazi propaganda broadcaster to the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He was hanged for treason by the British as a result of his wartime activities, even though he had renounced his British nationality, and become a naturalised German. His British nationality was abtained by fraud, as he lied about his place of birth on his application for a British passport. He said he was Born Galway Ireland even though he was born on Herkimer Street in Brooklyn, New York.
Three years after Joyce's birth, the family returned to Ireland, settling in Galway in County Mayo. Unusually for Irish Catholics, the Joyces were staunch loyalists, which caused them a certain amount of difficulty in the republican south, including attacks on their family business and their home by Sinn Fein nationalists.
Joyce attended a Catholic school, St. Ignatius College in Galway, and proved an intelligent, but argumentative child, ready to back up his principles with his fists. During one of these fights his nose was broken, and his refusal to have it reset resulted in the nasal drawl that would become so familiar to the audiences of his Nazi propaganda broadcasts during the Second World War.
When the British Prime Minister, Lloyd George, announced the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, which resulted in the creation of the Irish State, the Joyce family left Ireland for England, fearing nationalist retribution. Joyce was 15 years old at the time and, following a short stint in the army – where he was discharged for being underage – and a short stint at Surrey Polytechnic, he applied to Birkbeck College, at the University of London.
During his studies he developed a passionate interest in fascism, joining the British Fascisti Ltd. in 1923, an offshoot of the Italian Fascist movement. He became infamous for his anti-Semitic views whilst at University, and was often heckled at political meetings at a time when interest in politics was rife in tertiary education.
Never shy of using his fists, Joyce became involved in a fracas with an opposing left-wing mob at a Conservative Party meeting in 1924, and received a deep razor slash that ran across his right cheek, leaving a permanent scar. Joyce was convinced that his assailant was a "Jewish Communist" and the injury made his anti-Semitic stance even more implacable.
Joyce left the British Fascisti in 1925, disillusioned with their lack of political conviction, and he joined the Conservative Party. He graduated from Birkbeck in 1927 with a first-class degree, and also married Hazel Barr on 30 April 1927, who bore him two children. He decided on a full-time academic career, but was galvanised, in October 1932, by the arrival on the political scene of Oswald Mosley, who launched the British Union of Fascists, a party that Joyce quickly joined, dropping his academic career overnight to become an impassioned party speaker.
The journalist and novelist Cecil Roberts described a speech given by Joyce: "Thin, pale, intense, he had not been speaking many minutes before we were electrified by this man ... so terrifying in its dynamic force, so vituperative, so vitriolic." 1934 was an important year for Joyce; thanks to his impassioned oratory, he progressed through the BUF party ranks until he was promoted to the position of Director of Propaganda.
Also in that year, on 4 July, Joyce set in motion a chain of events that would prove his eventual undoing: he falsely claimed to be a British citizen, and obtained a British passport.
Despite his successful oratory, his appetite for brawling and willingness to confront anti-fascist agitators caused Mosley embarrassment, and he was forced to distance himself further from Joyce when his anti-Semitic rhetoric threatened to override the party’s political direction. Although Mosley used anti-Semitic sentiment as a political tool when it was expedient, he never shared Joyce’s virulent hatred of Jews, which seemed to increase with every passing year.
Joyce was divorced in 1936, and he married Margaret Cairns White, in London, on 13 February 1937. When, in the same year, the BUF performed disastrously in the polls, Mosley dismissed Joyce as a salaried party member, and Joyce left to form his own political party, the National Socialist League, with his new wife Margaret as treasurer. Over the next two years the small but vocal party were involved in a number of skirmishes, which resulted in court appearances on assault charges, although Joyce was never convicted. He made no secret of his support for Adolf ******, and had contact with suspected German agents within the UK.
Given his political allegiance, his correspondence was subjected to regular interception by the British Secret Service, and in July 1939 a letter to a suspected German spy revealed that he intended to travel to Germany, given the imminence of war. MI5 decided that he would be detained as soon as war was declared. In August 1939, in the days immediately prior to the declaration of war, Joyce dissolved the National Socialist League, and renewed his British passport for another year.
According to one of Joyce’s biographers, Nigel Farndale, Joyce developed a relationship with an intelligence division within MI5, known as section B5(b), which was responsible for infiltrating extremist political groups, during his time in England. Given his close connections to Ireland, it seems plausible that he might have been very valuable in this regard, and Farndale claims to have discovered documents, recently released under freedom of information legislation, backing up this connection.
Whether he provided any useful intelligence to B5(b) is unclear, but the strength of this relationship was sufficient that the head of MI5, Maxwell Knight (who was the inspiration and basis of the Ian Fleming character ‘M’ in the James Bond books), apparently tipped Joyce off about his imminent arrest. Joyce and his wife fled to Berlin on 26 August 1939, with Knight’s assistance, just days before war was declared. When Special Branch agents arrived to arrest Joyce on 1 September, he had already left the country using his British passport.
The Birth of Lord Haw Haw:
In Berlin, Joyce could not find employment until a chance meeting with fellow Mosleyite Dorothy Eckersley, former wife or second wife of the Chief Engineer of the British Broadcasting Corporation, Peter Eckersley, got him an audition at the Rundfunkhaus (radio centre). Despite having a heavy cold and almost losing his voice, he was recruited immediately for radio announcements and script writing at German radio's English service.
The name "Lord Haw-Haw of Zeesen" was coined by the pseudonymous Daily Express radio critic Jonah Barrington in 1939, but this referred initially to Wolf Mittler (or possibly Norman Baillie-Stewart). When Joyce became the best-known propaganda broadcaster, the nickname was transferred to him. Joyce's broadcasts initially came from studios in Berlin, later transferring (due to heavy Allied bombing) to Luxembourg and finally to Apen near Hamburg, and were relayed over a network of German-controlled radio stations that included Hamburg, Bremen, Luxembourg, Hilversum, Calais, Oslo and Zeesen. Joyce also broadcast on and wrote scripts for the German Büro Concordia organisation, which ran several black propaganda stations, many of which pretended to broadcast illegally from within Britain. His role in writing the scripts increased as time passed, and the German radio capitalized on his public persona. Initially an anonymous broadcaster, Joyce eventually revealed his real name to his listeners, and would occasionally be announced as "William Joyce, otherwise known as Lord Haw-Haw". Urban legends soon circulated about Lord Haw-Haw, alleging that the broadcaster was well-informed about political and military events, to the point of near-omniscience.
Although listening to his broadcasts was officially discouraged (but not illegal), they became very popular with the British public. At the height of his influence, in 1940, Joyce had an estimated 6 million regular and 18 million occasional listeners in the United Kingdom.
The German broadcasts always began with the announcer's words "Germany calling, Germany calling, Germany calling" (because of a nasal drawl this sounded like "Jarmany calling"). These broadcasts urged the British people to surrender, and were well known for their jeering, sarcastic and menacing tone. There was also a desire by civilian listeners to hear what the other side was saying, since information during wartime was strictly censored and restricted and at the start of the war it was possible for German broadcasts to be more informative than those of the BBC. This was a situation which was reversed towards the middle of the war, with German civilians tuning (usually secretly) to the BBC.
Joyce recorded his final broadcast on 30 April 1945, during the Battle of Berlin. Rambling and audibly drunk, he chided Britain for pursuing the war beyond mere containment of Germany, and warned repeatedly of the "menace" of the Soviet Union. He signed off with a final defiant "Heil ****** and farewell". There are conflicting accounts as to whether this last programme was actually transmitted, despite a tape being found in the Apen studios. The next day Radio Hamburg was seized by British forces, who on 4 May used it to make a mock "Germany calling" broadcast denouncing Joyce.
Capture, Trial, and Death:
At the end of the war, Joyce was captured by British forces at Flensburg, near the German border with Denmark. Spotting a disheveled figure while resting from gathering firewood, intelligence soldiers - including a Jewish German, Geoffrey Perry (born Horst Pinschewer), who had left Germany before the war - engaged him in conversation in French and English. After they asked if he was Joyce, he reached for his pocket (actually reaching for a false passport); believing he was armed, they shot him through the buttocks, leaving four wounds.
Two intelligence officers then drove him to a border post, and handed him to British military police. Joyce was tried at the Old Bailey, London on three counts of high treason.
He went to his death unrepentant and defiant:
Joyce was executed on 3 January 1946 at Wandsworth Prison, aged 39. It is said that the scar on Joyce's face split wide open because of the pressure applied to his head upon his drop from the gallows."In death as in life, I defy the Jews who caused this last war, and I defy the power of darkness which they represent. I warn the British people against the crushing imperialism of the Soviet Union. May Britain be great once again and the hour of the greatest danger in the West may the standard be raised from the dust, crowned with the words – you have conquered nevertheless. I am proud to die for my ideals and I am sorry for the sons of Britain who have died without knowing why."
This has been Great Trolls of History.