A lot of folks are familiar with “Tokyo Rose,” a series of English-speaking female broadcasters who trolled Allied forces during World War 2. The idea was that American soldiers would hear the broadcasts and become demoralized, as they contained false information of Japanese victories, supposed “inside information” on unfaithful wives back home, and great music (just to keep them listening). The primary voice of Tokyo Rose, Iva Toguri D’Aquino, was actually an American taken prisoner by the Japanese when she arrived to care for a sick aunt. While she was sent to prison for treason, she was later pardoned in light of the coerced circumstances of her participation in anti-American propaganda.
Like Tokyo Rose, “Lord Haw-Haw” originally referred to quite a few English-speaking broadcasters. Eventually, however, Lord Haw-Haw just became short-hand for William Joyce, an Irish-American with the sort of aristocratic accent described by a British radio critic as “English of the haw-haw, dammit-get-out-of-my-way-variety.” Unlike D’Aquino, Joyce was politically committed to the propaganda he produced. As a teenager he was already an active fascist, and aided the Black and Tans by squealing on the IRA. By 1939, Joyce was a vehement anti-Semite and rising political figure in the British Union of Fascists (BUF) under Oswald Mosley. After receiving a tip that his political activities were about to land him in jail, he fled to Germany.
Joyce quickly became a naturalized German citizen and got involved in wartime propaganda, at first as an anonymous broadcaster, but eventually revealing his identity and becoming a major programming writer as well. The Germany Calling program was exceedingly popular among listeners in the UK (I know that sounds odd, but the announcers enabled prisoners of war to send regards to loved ones.) Like Tokyo Rose, Haw-Haw mocked the British and lied about Axis victories. Opening each show with the trademark, “Germany calling,” Joyce never met Hitler, but was awarded the War Merit Cross (First and Second Class) at the behest of Der Führer.
Joyce after he was captured
Below is the final broadcast of William Joyce, drunk as a skunk, recorded during the Battle of Berlin in April of 1945. What follows is a sort of epic apologia on what he perceived as Germany’s well-intentioned fascism, and an admonishment of Britain for “escalating the war.” Joyce ends with a simple “Heil Hitler and farewell.” He was captured, tried, and executed for treason soon after, though not before some disgustingly unrepentant final words:
“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 in 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.”
The day after this recording, the British seized the radio station. A few days later, they broadcast their own show, opening with a sly, “Germany calling.”