Thursday, February 21, 2008
Strange Story of the Lord Haw Haw of the Conservative Establishment
Vanessa Thorpe wrote the story in the Observer about this 'disappeared' son- I can't raise a link but the wikipedia entry is here. It seems Ronald Harwood has written a play about Amery junior called An English Tragedy. And an apt title this would appear to be. John went to Harrow-and other schools from which he was also expelled- and became an affected dandy who carried around a teddy bear. He moved to France in the thirties and became a follower the French fascist, Jacques Doriot; from there he translated into Germany once the war was in progress. He met Hitler and was clearly a propaganda gift to the Nazis. Along with 'Lord Haw Haw' he made hundreds of broadcasts from Berlin, seeking to spread the word of fascism.
The impact of a scion of the Conservative establishment working for the hated Nazis, must have been considerable; in his Who's Who entry Amery acknowledged only one son. Eventually John was captured in Italy and tried for treason. He pleaded guilty, was condemned in 8 minutes and then hanged in Wandsworth prison 19th December 1945, after allegedly joking with his hangman, Albert Pierrepoint. Harwood thinks Leo's suppression of his (half) Jewish ancestry, for fear his career would be damaged in those anti-semitic times, helps explain John's rebellious behaviour. So far I haven't read anything about his sexual preferences, but I wonder if John Amery was just simply gay and that this caused the same renunciation of his social and patriotic background as it did the spies Burgess, Maclean and others?
He was also Joseph Chamberlain's official biographer after the death of J. L. Garvin. Not sure what that says about either of them.
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