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William Joyce
Born William Joyce
24 April 1906(1906-04-24)
Brooklyn, New York City, United States
Died 3 January 1946 (aged 39)
Wandsworth Prison, London, England
Cause of death Judicial execution (hanging)
Nationality American [1]
Other names Lord Haw-Haw
Education Birkbeck College, University of London
Known for Broadcasting German propaganda in World War II
Political party National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP)

William Joyce (April 24, 1906 – January 3, 1946), nicknamed Lord Haw-Haw, was a fascist politician and Nazi propaganda broadcaster to the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He was hanged for treason by the British government as a result of his wartime activities.


Early life

Joyce was born on Herkimer Street in Brooklyn [2] to an English Protestant mother and an Irish Catholic father who had taken United States citizenship. A few years after his birth the family returned to Galway, Ireland. He attended the Jesuit St Ignatius College in Galway from 1915 to 1921. Unusually for Irish Roman Catholics, both Joyce and his father were strongly Unionist. Joyce later said that he aided the Black and Tans during the Irish War for Independence and became a target of the Irish Republican Army.[3][4]

Following what he alleged to be an assassination attempt in 1921, (which supposedly failed because he took a different route home from school) he left for England where he briefly attended King's College School, Wimbledon on a foreign exchange, followed two years later by his family. Joyce had relatives who lived in Birkenhead, Merseyside, whom he visited on a few occasions. He joined the Royal Worcester Regiment in 1921 but was discharged when it was discovered that he had lied about his age. [5]. He then applied to Birkbeck College of the University of London and to enter the Officer Training Corps. At Birkbeck he worked hard and obtained a First Class degree [6]. He also developed an interest in fascism, and he worked with (but never joined) the British Fascisti of Rotha Lintorn-Orman.

In 1924, while stewarding a Conservative Party meeting, Joyce was attacked and received a deep razor slash that ran across his right cheek. It left a permanent scar which ran from the earlobe to the corner of the mouth. Joyce was convinced that his attackers were "Jewish communists". It was an incident that had a marked bearing on his outlook.

British Union of Fascists

In 1932 Joyce joined the British Union of Fascists (BUF) under Sir Oswald Mosley, and swiftly became a leading speaker, praised for his power of oratory. 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.[7]

In 1934 Joyce was promoted to the BUF's director of propaganda and later appointed deputy leader. As well as being a gifted speaker, Joyce gained the reputation of a savage brawler. His violent rhetoric and willingness to physically confront anti-fascist elements head-on played no small part in further marginalizing the BUF. After the bloody debacle of the June 1934 Olympia rally, Joyce spearheaded the BUF's policy shift from campaigning for economic revival through corporatism to antisemitism. He was instrumental in changing the name of the BUF to "British Union of Fascists and National Socialists" in 1936, and stood as a party candidate in the 1937 elections to London County Council. In 1936 Joyce lived for a year in Whitstable, where he owned a radio and electrical shop.[8][9]

Between April 1934 and 1937 when Mosley sacked him, Joyce also served as Area Administrative Officer for the BUF West Sussex division. Joyce was supported in this role by Norah Elam as Sussex Women’s Organizer, with her partner Dudley Elam taking on the role of Sub-Branch Officer for Worthing. Under this regime West Sussex was to become a hub of fascist activity, ranging from hosting Blackshirt Summer Camps to organising meetings and rallies, lunches etc. Norah Elam shared many speaking platforms with Joyce and worked on propaganda speeches for him. One area of particular concern that Joyce had her work on was the government's India Bill (passed in 1935) designed to give a measure of autonomy to India, allowing freedom and the development of limited self-government. Joyce harboured a desire to become Viceroy of India under a Mosley administration should he ever head a BUF government, and is recorded as describing the backers of the bill as 'feeble' and 'one loathsome, fetid, purulent, tumid mass of hypocrisy, hiding behind Jewish Dictators'.[10].

Unlike Joyce the Elams did not escape detention under 18B Regulations, both being arrested on the same day as Mosley in May 1940. The relationship between Joyce and Norah Elam was evidence of the strange bedfellows that politics can bring together. Elam's father had been an Irish Nationalist, while Joyce had been a Unionist and supporter of the Black and Tans. In later life Elam reported that although she disliked Joyce, she believed that his execution by the British in 1946 was wrong, stating that he should not have been regarded as a traitor to England because he was not English but Irish.[10].

Joyce was sacked from his paid position when Mosley drastically reduced the BUF staff shortly after the 1937 elections, and Joyce formed a breakaway organisation, the National Socialist League. Unlike Joyce, Mosley was never a committed antisemite, preferring to exploit antisemitic sentiment only for political gain. After 1937, the party turned its focus away from antisemitism and towards activism, opposing a war with Nazi Germany. Although Joyce had been deputy leader of the BUF from 1933 and an effective fighter and orator, Mosley snubbed him in his autobiography and later denounced him as a traitor because of his wartime activities.

Lord Haw-Haw

In late August 1939, shortly before war was declared, Joyce and his wife Margaret fled to Germany. Joyce had been tipped off that the British authorities intended to detain him under Defence Regulation 18B. Joyce became a naturalised German in 1940.

In Berlin, Joyce could not find employment until a chance meeting with fellow Mosleyite Dorothy Eckersley (former wife (or second wife[11]) of the Chief Engineer of the British Broadcasting Corporation, Peter Eckersley) got him an audition at the Rundfunkhaus (radio centre).[11] 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.[12] 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"[13].

Although listening to his broadcasts was officially discouraged (but not illegal), they became very popular with the British public. The German broadcasts always began with the announcer's words "Germany calling, Germany calling, Germany calling" (because of a nasal drawl this sounded like: Jairmany 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 scenario which reversed towards the middle of the war, with German civilians tuning (usually secretly) to the BBC.[citation needed]

Lying in an ambulance under armed guard before being taken from British Second Army Headquarters to hospital.

Joyce recorded his final rambling broadcast on 30 April 1945, during the Battle of Berlin.[14] 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 Hitler and farewell".[15] There are conflicting accounts as to whether this last programme was actually transmitted, despite a tape being found in the Apen studios. [16] 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.[17]

Besides broadcasting, Joyce's duties included writing propaganda for distribution among British prisoners of war, whom he tried to recruit into the British Free Corps. He wrote a book Twilight Over England promoted by the German Ministry of Propaganda, which unfavourably compared the evils of allegedly Jewish-dominated capitalist Britain with the wonders of National Socialist Germany. Adolf Hitler awarded Joyce the War Merit Cross (First and Second Class) for his broadcasts, although they never met.

Scripts and the microphone used by Joyce were seized by soldier Cyril Millwood and have now come to light following the ex-soldier's death.[18]

Capture and trial

At the end of the war, Joyce was captured by British forces at Flensburg near the Germany-Denmark border. Spotting a disheveled figure, resting from gathering firewood, intelligence soldiers, including a Jewish German 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), and they (believing he was armed) shot him through the buttocks, leaving four wounds.[19]

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:

  • William Joyce, on the 18th of September, 1939, and on other days between that day and the 29th of May, 1945, being a person owing allegiance to our Lord the King, and while a war was being carried on by the German Realm against our King, did traitorously adhere to the King's enemies in Germany, by broadcasting propaganda.
  • William Joyce, on the 26th of September, 1940, being a person who owed allegiance as in the other count, adhered to the King's enemies by purporting to become naturalized as a subject of Germany.
  • William Joyce, on the 18th of September, 1939, and on other days between that day and the 2nd of July, 1940, being a person owing allegiance to our Lord the King, and while a war was being carried on by the German Realm against our King, did traitorously adhere to the King's enemies in Germany, by broadcasting propaganda.[20]

The only evidence offered that he had begun broadcasting from Germany while his British passport was valid was the testimony of a London police inspector who had questioned him before the war while he was an active member of the British Union of Fascists and claimed to have recognised his voice on a propaganda broadcast in the early weeks of the war (Joyce had previous convictions for assault and riotous assembly in the 1930s).

During the processing of the charges Joyce's American nationality came to light, and it seemed that he would have to be acquitted, based upon a lack of jurisdiction; he could not be convicted of betraying a country that was not his own. He was acquitted of the first and second charges. However, the Attorney General, Sir Hartley Shawcross, successfully argued that Joyce's possession of a British passport, even though he had mis-stated his nationality to get it, entitled him (until it expired) to British diplomatic protection in Germany and therefore he owed allegiance to the king at the time he commenced working for the Germans. It was on this technicality that Joyce was convicted of the third charge and sentenced to death on 19 September 1945. His conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal on 1 November, and by the House of Lords (on a 4–1 vote) on 13 December.


In his appeal to the House of Lords, Joyce argued that possession of a passport did not entitle him to the protection of the Crown, and therefore did not perpetuate his duty of allegiance once he left the country, but the House unanimously rejected this argument. Lord Porter's dissenting opinion was based on his belief that whether Joyce's duty of allegiance had terminated or not was a question of fact for the jury to decide, rather than a purely legal question for the judge.

Joyce also argued that jurisdiction had been wrongly assumed by the court in electing to try an alien for offences committed in a foreign country. This argument was also rejected, on the basis that a state may exercise such jurisdiction in the interests of its own security.


He went to his death unrepentant and defiant:

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.

Joyce was executed on 3 January 1946 at Wandsworth Prison, aged 39. He was the second to last person to be hanged for a crime other than murder in the United Kingdom. The last was Theodore Schurch, executed for treachery the following day at Pentonville. In both cases the hangman was Albert Pierrepoint. In spite of pleadings from the hospital chaplain, Joyce chose to die in his mother's faith, that of the Church of Ireland. [21]

It is said that the scar on Joyce's face split wide open due to the pressure applied to his head upon his drop from the gallows.[22]

As was customary for executed criminals, Joyce's remains were buried in an unmarked grave within the walls of HMP Wandsworth. In 1976 they were exhumed and reinterred in the Protestant section of the New Cemetery in Bohermore in County Galway, Ireland. Ironically, a Roman Catholic Tridentine Latin mass was celebrated at his reburial. [23]

Joyce's family

The Crown considered trying his wife Margaret as well.[citation needed] It is not entirely clear why no trial took place. A straightforward explanation is that her nationality status was much more complex[citation needed] and a conviction thought unlikely.[citation needed] Some also consider a deal for clemency was made on her behalf, perhaps recorded in a secret memo.[citation needed] Margaret Joyce died in Soho in 1972, reportedly from alcohol abuse.[citation needed]

Joyce had two daughters by his first wife, Hazel, who went on to marry Oswald Mosley's bodyguard, Eric Piercey. One daughter, Heather Piercey (m. Vincenzo Iandolo 1959–1972), has spoken publicly of her father.[24]

Artistic works based on the life of William Joyce

Joyce was the inspiration for the character Howard W. Campbell in Kurt Vonnegut's novels Mother Night and Slaughterhouse Five. As black comedy antihero Lord Horror, Joyce appeared in the highly controversial works of British novelist and comic scriptwriter David Britton. The British government banned the novel Lord Horror and Britton served a jail sentence following a trial deciding that the comic Meng and Ecker, in which Lord Horror appears, violated the Obscene Publications Act.

See also

Dämmerung über England (Twilight over England), 3rd edition, Berlin 1942


  1. ^ "Joyce Apellant; and Director of Public Prosecutions". House of Lords. 1946. pp. 1. Retrieved 2009-09-20. 
  2. ^ Christenson, Ron (1991). Ron Christenson. ed. Political trials in history: from antiquity to the present. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 9780887384066. Retrieved 22/June/2009. 
  3. ^ Lord Haw-Haw and the Black and Tans, Axis History Forum.
  4. ^ Joyce, William; Imperial War Museum (Great Britain). (1992). Twilight over England, (Issue 5 of Facsimile reprint series ed.). Imperial War Museum, Department of Printed Books. pp. Introduction (x). ISBN 9780901627728. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  5. ^ AN Wilson, "After the Victorians" Hurchinson London, 2005, p 421
  6. ^ AN Wilson, "After the Victorians", Hutchinson, London, 2005
  7. ^ Selwyn, Francis (1987). Hitler's Englishman: the crime of Lord Haw-Haw. Taylor & Francis. pp. 61. ISBN 9780710210326. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  8. ^ "North West Wales Blaenau Ffestiniog — Coed-y-Bleiddiau". BBC. 
  9. ^ "1900–1950". Canterbury. 
  10. ^ a b McPherson, Angela; McPherson, Susan (2010). Mosley's Old Suffragette - A Biography of Norah Elam. ISBN 978-1-4452-7308-2. 
  11. ^ a b 45/25728/244. CAB 98/18. Simpson 135-6. Thurlow, the 'Mosley Papers' and the Secret History of British Fascism 1939–1940, K/L, 175. Reporting statement from the Mail on 14.3.40
  12. ^ "Black propaganda by radio: the German Concordia broadcasts to Britain, 1940–1941". Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. Find Articles at 
  13. ^ Nazi Wireless Propaganda: Lord Haw-Haw and British Public Opinion in the Second World War, Edinburgh University Press, 2000, page 13
  14. ^ "The last Broadcast of Lord Haw Haw, 1945". 
  15. ^ "Lord Haw Haw’s Last Broadcast" (MP3).'sLastBroadcast.mp3. 
  16. ^ Template:Http://
  17. ^ "exceprt from Mock ‘German Calling’ broadcast" (WAV).'Germany_Calling'_broadcast.wav. 
  18. ^ "Microphone used by Lord Haw Haw to be sold at auction". Daily Mail. 2009-08-26. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  19. ^ "Geoffrey Perry". The Sun. 2009-04-24. Retrieved 2009-04-24. 
  20. ^ Chapter 4: The Trial and Death of Lord Haw-Haw, 
  21. ^ AN Wilson, op cit, p 420
  22. ^ Seabrook, David (2002). All the devils are here. Granta. pp. 97. ISBN 9781862074835. Retrieved 2009-09-20. 
  23. ^ Wilson op cit
  24. ^ Beckett, Francis. "'My father was a traitor but he was kind and loving to me'", The Guardian, December 5, 2005.
  • Wharam, Alan (1995), Treason: Famous English Treason Trials, Alan Sutton Publishing, ISBN 0-7509-0091-9 

Further reading

  • The Trial of William Joyce ed. by C.E. Bechhofer Roberts [Old Bailey Trials series] (Jarrolds, London, 1946)
  • The Trial of William Joyce ed. by J.W. Hall [Notable British Trials series] (William Hodge and Company, London, 1946)
  • The Meaning of Treason by Dame Rebecca West (Macmillan, London, 1949)
  • Lord Haw-Haw and William Joyce by William Cole (Faber and Faber, London, 1964)
  • Hitler's Englishman by Francis Selwyn (Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd, London, 1987)
  • Renegades: Hitler's Englishmen by Adrian Weale (Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London, 1994)
  • Germany Calling — a personal biography of William Joyce by Mary Kenny (New Island Books, Dublin, 2003)
  • Haw-Haw: the tragedy of William and Margaret Joyce by Nigel Farndale (Macmillan, London, 2005)

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

If war breaks out, I will fight for Hitler since such a war would be against Jewry.

William Brooke Joyce (24 April 1906 – 3 January 1946) was a propaganda broadcaster for Nazi Germany during World War II, best known by his British listeners as Lord Haw Haw. Controversially, he was executed for treason by the British as a result of his wartime activities.


  • As a young man of pure British descent, some of whose forefathers have held high position in the British army, I have always been desirous of devoting what little capability and energy I may possess to the country which I love so dearly.
    • Peter Martland, "Lord Haw Haw: The English voice of Nazi Germany" (The National Archives, 2003), p. 145. UK National Archives KV 2/245/301a.
    • Letter to the University of London Military Education Committee, 9 August 1922.
  • I don't regard Jews as a class. I regard them as a privileged misfortune.
    • Francis Selwyn, Hitler's Englishman (Penguin Books, 1987), p. 43
    • Speech at Chiswick, 1934
  • We know that England is crying for a leader, and that leader has emerged in the person of the greatest Englishman I have ever known, Sir Oswald Mosley ... When the history of Europe comes to be written I can assure you that his name will not be second to either Mussolini or Hitler.
    • Frederic Mullally, Fascism inside England (Claud Morris Books, 1946), p. 15
    • Speech at Brighton, March 1934
  • I would gladly say 'Heil Hitler!' and at once part company with him, realizing what a pitiable insult it is to such a great man to try to flatter him with such an imitation which he has always disdained. His way is for Germany, ours is for Britain; let us tread our paths with mutual respect, which is rarely increased by borrowing.
    • National Socialism Now, pamphlet issued by the National Socialist League c. 1938
  • If war breaks out, I will fight for Hitler since such a war would be against Jewry.
    • National Socialism Now
  • Germany calling! Germany Calling!
    • Catchphrase used to introduce or begin his talks on German radio.
  • The people of England will curse themselves for having preferred ruin from Churchill to peace from Hitler.
    • Broadcast, Radio Bremen, 2 August 1940
  • The preface is usually that part of a book which can most safely be omitted. It usually represents that efflorescent manifestation of egotism which an author, after working hard, cannot spare either himself or his readers. More often than not the readers spare themselves. When, however, the writer is a daily perpetrator of high treason, his introductory remarks may command from the English public that kind of awful veneration with which £5000 confessions are perused in the Sunday newspapers, quite frequently after the narrator has taken his last leap in the dark.
    • William Joyce, Twilight over England (Internationaler Verlag, Berlin, 1940), preface.
  • Apart from my absolute belief in National Socialism and my conviction of Hitler's superhuman heroism, I had always been attracted to Germany.
    • Twilight over England
  • To conclude this personal note, I, William Joyce, will merely say that I left England because I would not fight for Jewry against the Führer and National Socialism, and because I believe most ardently, as I do today, that victory and a perpetuation of the old system would be an incomparably greater evil for [England] than defeat coupled with a possibility of building something new, something really national, something truly socialist.
    • Peter Martland, "Lord Haw Haw: The English voice of Nazi Germany" (The National Archives, 2003), p. 173. UK National Archives KV 2/245/285.
    • Broadcast, 2 April 1941. In this broadcast Joyce for the first time identified himself, in response to an article in the London Evening Standard which claimed he ran a spy ring in Britain.
  • [Winston Churchill] is the servant, not of the British public, or of the British Empire, but of International Jewish Finance. This charge must be preferred against a man who has so signally violated British tradition in the course of this war.
    • Broadcast, Radio Cologne, 8 April 1943
  • Chuchill has renounced all British interests in Europe and those of his people who are not blind now realise that the pretext for this war was far removed from the cause of it, namely, the subservience of the so-called democratic politicians to their Jewish masters.
    • Broadcast, Radio Cologne, 30 August 1944
  • Bombardment by a new device of centres essential to the British war effort. The action was long delayed, but who can deny that the moment selected for it was chosen most appropriately from the military point of view? Germany has more secret weapons than one.
    • Broadcast, German European Service in English, 17 September 1944.
    • Refers to the first attack by the Vergeltungswaffe-1, or "reprisal weapon".
  • Britain's victories are barren; they leave her poor, and they leave her people hungry; they leave her bereft of the markets and the wealth that she possessed six years ago. But above all, they leave her with an immensely greater problem than she had then. We are nearing the end of one phase of Europe's history, but the next will be no happier. It will be grimmer, harder and perhaps bloodier. And now I ask you earnestly, can Britain survive? I am profoundly convinced that without German help she cannot.
    • J.W. Hall (ed.), "The Trial of William Joyce" (Notable British Trials series, William Hodge & Co, 1946), p. 302
    • Broadcast, 30 April 1945. This was Joyce's last broadcast of the war.
  • I say, Ich liebe Deutschland! Heil Hitler! and farewell.
    • End of Joyce's last broadcast.
  • On this tragic day, the death of Adolf Hitler was reported - Admiral Dönitz takes over as his nominated successor. Reach Flensburg about 8. Have to drink wine for breakfast — as nothing else is available.
    • Peter Martland, "Lord Haw Haw: The English voice of Nazi Germany" (The National Archives, 2003), p. 301. UK National Archives KV 2/250/2, p. 55.
    • Diary entry, 1 May 1945.
  • I know that I have been denounced as a traitor and I resent the accusation, as I conceive myself to have been guilty of no underhand or deceitful act against Britain, although I am also able to understand the resentment that my broadcasts have, in many quarters, aroused.
    • J.W. Hall (ed.), The Trial of William Joyce (Notable British Trials series, William Hodge & Co, 1946), p. 58
    • Statement given by Joyce under caution, 31 May 1945
  • I salute you, Freja, as your lover for ever. Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!
    • Francis Selwyn, Hitler's Englishman op cit, p. 211
    • Last letter to his wife Margaret before he was hanged, 3 January 1946


  • Where is the Ark Royal?
    • Frequent conclusion to broadcasts in 1939-41, taunting the Royal Navy for not engaging the German Navy.

External links

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