Lord Haw-Haw was a derisive nickname applied to several British Nazi propagandists who made radio broadcasts from Germany on behalf of the Nazis during World War II. Although he never used the name for himself, William Joyce, perhaps the most infamous of the British propagandists in World War II, is most often associated with the label Lord Haw-Haw.
William Joyce gained such hatred among British citizens for his broadcasts as a Nazi propagandist that the British executed him after the war as a traitor, even though all evidence suggests that technically, he could not have been a traitor to Britain because he was a citizen of the United States. In fact, William Joyce was born in the United States, in Brooklyn (not exactly a place where a Lord, Haw-Haw or otherwise, would be born), in 1906. His parents (his mother was English, his father Irish) moved to England when he was a baby. In England as an adult, but as the not yet Lord Haw-Haw, William Joyce joined extremist right-wing organizations, among whom he gained a reputation as a propagandist.
As Director of Propaganda for the Union of Fascists, William Joyce used his position to expound his ferociously anti-Semitic ideas, foreshadowing his role as a propagandist for the Nazis. In 1937, he went on to found his own British National Socialist League through which he expressed his support for Adolph Hitler and Nazi polities. Less than two years later, William Joyce escaped arrest in Britain under a law aimed at Nazi sympathizers by moving to Berlin, where he joined the Nazi Party. He found a job with a pro-Nazi propagandist radio program. Journalists and academics in Britain denounced him as a Nazi propagandist puppet and named him "Lord Haw-Haw."
It was illegal to listen to Lord Haw-Haw's propagandist outbursts in Britain, but William Joyce's programs remained popular among the British. Lord Haw-Haw's commentary was patently absurd, and he was so obviously a propagandist that some Britons found the whole business entertaining, much the way Americans came to regard Baghdad Bob, Iraq's Information Minister under Saddam Hussein, a propagandist as bombastic and unrealistic as William Joyce.
Nonetheless, Lord Haw-Haw could come through with vivid descriptions of German infiltrators in Britain as well as with eerie, threatening descriptions of landmarks in towns throughout Britain that were probably more potent victories for the propagandist, striking a fear that some people felt even after he was captured.
As the war drew to a close, William Joyce moved to Hamburg, where the final Lord Haw-Haw programs were broadcast. He was captured in Flensburg. British authorities detained him and flew him to Britain.
After the war, Britain passed new laws to prosecute British citizens who had hindered the war effort. Under those laws and with a great deal of media coverage, William Joyce was charged with treason and espionage. Although the authorities could not prove that William Joyce had been a spy (and so, the espionage charges did not stick), on the basis of the propagandist Lord Haw-Haw broadcasts, which showed his cooperation with the Nazis, they convicted him of treason against Britain.
The problem was the William Joyce could not have been guilty of treason against the British government, because he was an American citizen who became a naturalized German. You can only commit treason against your own country, no matter how repulsive the propagandist Lord Haw-Haw broadcasts had been.
Prosecutors argued that because William Joyce had a British passport (although he had not obtained it honestly), he was entitled to diplomatic protection by Britain, and in turn, Britain was entitled to his allegiance. Post-war Britain was in no mood to show clemency to the infamous Lord Haw-Haw, and he was hanged in 1946, not yet forty years old.
Author Unknown. I have tried to keep this as short as possible without spoiling the story. 🙂