Thursday, 3 January 2013

Today in London History…

He was an American. 

They hanged him.

On January 3, 1946.

The date's a clue of course. Yup, Lord Haw-Haw, the Nazi propagandist and broadcaster. 

Through the trap door and to his reward.

Now, the little matter of the "nationality question". Because he was convicted and executed on charges of treason and by definition you can't commit treason against a foreign country.

Lord Haw-Haw – "the Humbug of Hamburg" as a popular song called him – was born William Joyce in 1906 in Brooklyn, New York. Of Irish extraction.

Came to Britain in 1921. Enlisted in the British army. Was shown the door when they found out he was under age. Obtained a British passport in 1933 – it expired in 1940 – on the strength of a lie: that he had been born in Galway.

The which was the thread the legal noose was woven from. 

And perhaps the real measure of the man: he fell out with the home-grown British fascist "Blackshirt" movement on the grounds that its founder, Oswald Mosley, was insufficiently antisemitic.

Endless London connections. Married in the Kensington registry office. Took a first in English Literature at Birkbeck College. Stood as a BUF (British Union of Fascists) candidate in Shoreditch in 1937. Disappeared in the dead of winter. A London winter. In SW18. Through the trap door in the floor of the gallows in Wandsworth Prison.

Good riddance.

Keep up with On This Day In London History on the main website

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