Lord Haw-Haw

From Academic Kids

Lord Haw-Haw was the nickname of an announcer on an English language propaganda radio programme, broadcast by Nazi German radio to audiences in Great Britain and Ireland on the mediumwave station Radio Hamburg and by shortwave to the United States. The programme started on 18 September, 1939 and continued until April 30, 1945, when Hamburg was overrun by the British Army. However, the history of the name is somewhat confused; it was actually applied to a number of different announcers. Three announcers could have been Lord Haw-Haw:

  • Wolf Mitler was a German national who spoke as the caricature of an upper-class Englishman. His persona was described by some listeners as similar to P.G. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster. The pseudonymous radio critic Jonah Barrington of the Daily Express first used the term "Lord Haw-Haw" to describe Mitler, in an attempt to reduce their possible impact. He said of Mitler's voice: "he speaks English of the haw-haw, dammit-get-out-of-my-way-variety". However, Barrington did not invent the term "Lord Haw-Haw", it was originally the nickname of James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, a 19th century British general. Under Mitler, the program reached its greatest popularity in Ireland and Britain, with over six million listeners.
  • Norman Baillie-Stewart was a former Guards officer cashiered for selling secrets to Germany, who worked as a broadcaster for the Germans for a short time in 1939. It has been suggested that it may actually have been him who inspired Barrington to use the term, he did have an upper-class accent. He was jailed for five years by the British after the war.
  • William Joyce replaced Mitler in 1939. Joyce, an American citizen formerly a senior member of the British Union of Fascists, fled England when tipped off about his planned internment on August 26, 1939. He was the main German broadcaster in English for most of the war, and he is usually regarded as "Lord Haw-Haw", even though he was probably not the person who the term originally referred to.

After Joyce took over, Mitler was paired with the American-born announcer Mildred Gillars in the Axis Sally program and also broadcast to ANZAC forces in North Africa. Mitler survived the war and appeared on postwar German television. Joyce was captured by British forces, tried, and eventually hanged for treason on January 3, 1946. As an American citizen and naturalised German, Joyce could not have been convicted of treason against the Crown, except that the prosecution successfully argued on a technicality that having lied about his nationality to obtain a British passport Joyce owed allegiance to the King. Other British subjects willingly made propaganda broadcasts, including Raymond David Hughes, who broadcast on the German Radio Cymru; and John Amery.

See also

September 18,1939


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