Little Bits of History

Lord Haw-Haw

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 27, 2010

William Joyce, also known as Lord Haw-Haw

September 19, 1945: William Joyce is sentenced to death for high treason by the British courts. Joyce was born in NYC in 1906 to an Irish father and English mother who had taken American citizenship. When he was three, his family returned to Ireland to live and when he was fifteen, they again moved to London.

Joyce attended Birkbeck College where he joined the British Fascisti Limited in 1923. During a political protest, he was slashed across the face with a razor. He was kicked out of the Union of Fascists and so founded the National Socialist League in 1937 and then co-founded the British Council Against European Commitment in 1938. He was known as a gifted speaker and a savage brawler. He was committed to the anti-Semitic philosophy and stirred up civil unrest.

By August of 1939, with MI5 intending to detain him, Joyce fled to Germany. He became a naturalized German citizen in 1940. Radio broadcasts of propaganda material was produced in Berlin and broadcast to England. Lord Haw-Haw was the propagandist. Originally that job went to Wolf Mitler, but in 1939 Joyce took over the role. He was given the Distinguished Service Cross signed personally by Adolf Hitler in 1944.

Many Britons listened to Lord Haw-Haw for news of what was happening on the continent. The broadcasts were more of a uniting force for listeners than a psychologically destructive tool. As the Allies closed in, Joyce’s life unraveled. He was drinking heavily. He was captured at the border by British soldiers. He was brought to trial, found guilty of treason, and executed by hanging on January 3, 1946 at age 39.

“Germany calling! Germany calling!” – William Joyce, opening line of Lord Haw-Haw program

“Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly and with unflagging attention. It must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.” – Adolf Hitler

“Why is propaganda so much more successful when it stirs up hatred than when it tries to stir up friendly feelings?” – Bertrand Russell

Also on this day, in 1983 Wheel of Fortune began evening broadcasting.

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