This is the author’s preface to William Brooke Joyce’s earthshaking book Twilight Over England.
The preface is usually that part of a book which can most safely be omitted. It usually represents that efflorescent manifestation of egotism which an author, after working hard, cannot spare either himself or his readers. More often than not the readers spare themselves. When, however, the writer is a daily perpetrator of High Treason, his introductory remarks may command from the English public that kind of awful veneration with which £5000 confessions are perused in the Sunday newspapers, quite frequently after the narrator has taken his last leap in the dark.
by William Joyce
At any rate, I have reason to believe that many fictitious stories are being circulated about me in England already: and it seems less than fair to neglect to provide them with that basis of fact which every skilful liar welcomes. I have no wish to write a brief autobiography: it merely seems necessary to give a few details which, in conjunction with the argument of the book, will explain why I came to Germany at the end of August 1939 to play what humble part I could in working for her victory in the war which I knew to be inevitable.
I was born in New York in 1906. My father’s people had lived in Ireland since the Norman Conquest. From my mother I inherited English, Irish, and Scottish blood. Thus, I suppose, the nondescript adjective British could well be applied to my race, though, in fact, I think it is more purely Norman than that of most people who trace their descent with finer feelings. I went to school in Ireland, where the Jesuits, with whom I had differences, gave me the benefit of their splendid-educational system. However recalcitrant I may have proved in some matters, I have good reason to be grateful to them for what they did for me. Nor do I know any better motto in the world than Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam. Later, at the University of London I studied English Language and Literature, History, and Psychology. Much of my study had to be part-time, because my parents had lost what money they had in Ireland, by reason of a devotion to the British Crown — a devotion which seems to have been misplaced and was certainly ill-requited. From time to time, well-meaning people have sympathized with me concerning my educational deficiencies: but having compared their standards with my own, I feel that their sympathy might have been reserved for more needy cases.
I was brought up by my parents in a creed of fanatical patriotism which the English people found very hard to understand. From my earliest days, I was taught to love England and her Empire. Patriotism was the highest virtue that I knew. In 1923, I joined the British Fascists, the first Fascist body to be formed in England. In those days, Communism was a lively force in England: and I saw a certain amount of street and hall fighting, of which I shall carry the marks so long as I live. For reasons which need not be given here, the British Fascists, as an organization, came to grief. Some attempts which I most foolishly made to introduce the doctrine of true Nationalism into the Conservative party met with the ignominious failure that they deserved.
I earned my living as a tutor and was fortunate enough to have a good employer.
In 1933, however, I joined Sir Oswald Mosley’s new movement, the British Union of Fascists. In that movement I became one of the chief speakers and writers: and for three years, I was Sir Oswald’s Director of Propaganda. We had some fine times in that movement — days which I shall never forget. What influence I had I used to promote a thoroughly anti-Jewish policy: and, in this respect I succeeded.
Moreover, I did everything possible to stress the philosophical community of German and British National-Socialism. To anybody who could see, in the years 1934 and 1935, it was only a specially successful effort to spread National-Socialism widely in England that could avert the tragedy which has come to pass.
Here I should explain that in the course of years and experience the basis of my patriotism had changed. It was no longer the collection of sentimental abstractions that had satisfied me in my youth. Having seen how the poor lived and how they suffered, I had realized the impossibility of a patriotism which excluded them. On the one hand, the Tory politicians were ruining the Empire for the sake of international finance: on the other hand, the mere fact that the Conservatives claimed a monopoly of patriotism made millions of the working people detest it. It became clear to me that it was vain presumption to talk about patriotism until the masses of the people were given some real reason to love their country: and the only real reason conceivable was that a new and scientific economic system should abolish unemployment, poverty, and social injustice. The more I investigated the facts, the more convinced I became that the old stereotyped patriotism was a hollow sham, designed to conceal the operations of financiers and preserve the privileges of an effete plutocratic caste. From the outset of my political career, I was always told how unwise it was to mention the Jews. One could condemn the King in public without any fear as to the consequences: but to mention the Jews was sacrilege. For some years I worked to break this evil superstition, and I believe that I succeeded.
In 1937, it unfortunately happened that I had differences with Sir Oswald Mosley on matters pertaining to organization: and I left his movement to found my own, the National Socialist League. In this task I was helped by John Beckett, the former Socialist M. P. for Gateshead and Peckham. Our little League had a hard and stormy time. In September 1938, I was left in sole charge of it, as John Beckett, though agreeing with me in principle, thought my methods too extreme. I always held a certain view about the League. There were various movements and societies larger than ours which were, in general, favourable to National-Socialism: but, in my opinion, it was desirable that there should be one which would maintain the purity of the doctrine in the extremest and most uncompromising form. Moreover, I have always believed, in the face of experienced advice to the contrary, that he who speaks the truth with passion and conviction is a better propagandist than he who burns the midnight oil considering in what way a programme can best be put before the people.
There may, of course, be very different opinions on this subject, but as I once said to a colleague who told me that I was damaging my chances in politics: “I am not in politics because I want to get on, but because I feel and believe things that I consider it a duty to utter. Success be damned.” I still think that this attitude is appreciated better than any other by ordinary people.
In the National-Socialist League I came into contact with even more appalling poverty than I had seen in my work for the British Union of Fascists and National-Socialists. I could give only part of my time to the work. The rest of my time I was earning my living as a tutor with an old friend. As, however, we told all the agencies that we would not take Jewish pupils in any circumstances, largely successful attempts were made to ruin our business.
What seemed most touching to me was the large number of men and women in England who loved or admired National-Socialism but were rendered inarticulate by the lack of cash. Needless to say, cheap stories were circulated to the effect that we were receiving money from Germany. By this time, Scotland Yard’s investigations into the finances of the League should have convinced the Government that nothing could be further from the truth.
Despite my severance from Mosley’s movement, I still had many friends in it. I had friends in every movement working for the right cause. Just when it seemed that there were greater prospects of cooperation between those of like mind, the war clouds loomed on the horizon.
Twice in the year preceding the 3rd of September, I was arrested. In all there were two charges of assault and one of an offence under the Public Order Act. I was acquitted on all three and shall always remember the loyalty of my friends who worked for my acquittal. This was not my first brush with the law. In 1934, I had been tried, together with Mosley and two others, on a charge of Riotous Assembly. We were all acquitted. So far as I am concerned, I can only express the opinion that the King’s Judges and the Stipendiary Magistrates are as honourable as the Justices of the Peace are hopelessly incompetent and corrupt. This, however, is just a personal impression: and much depends on how the case is handled by the defendant. I had studied certain aspects of the law to some purpose. The Police Force of London was very anti-Jewish but special measures were taken by Sir Samuel Hoare to enforce upon them the dire necessity of pampering the Israelites. Of the hundreds of meetings that I addressed, the Commissioner of Police had notes on every one. I was warned again and again by friendly police officers of some rank to slacken the pace: and I refused. All the circumstances of the last charges brought against me point to the probability that I was arrested at the urgent instance of the Home Office.
We in the League lived National-Socialism. As a small band, we were united in the struggle: and we were all poor enough to know the horrors of freedom in democracy. One of our members was driven mad by eighteen months of unemployment and starvation. We did what we could to help him: but I am afraid it was little enough. I lived for months with real friends who loved England and could not get enough to eat from her. Unemployed members who had only two shillings a day came twelve miles by train to attend street corner meetings, or to undertake office duties, spent the surviving pennies on food, and walked home into the small hours of the morning in winter weather. These unknown men were great patriots.
They all had the hope that out of their sacrifices a greater England would be born. So it was with Mosley’s men and women too. The misery of these people was indescribable when it seemed to them that all their efforts would be cancelled by war between their country and Germany. They had family ties. Having been brought up as patriots they were benumbed at the thought that there was to be a conflict between their country and all the beliefs that they held dear.
For my part, the decision was easy to make. To me it was clear on the morning of August 25th that the greatest struggle in history was now doomed to take place. It might have been a very worthy course to stay in England and incessantly work for peace: but I had one traditionally acquired or inherited prejudice, which many will think foolish and which may be logically difficult to defend. England was going to war. I felt that if, for perfect reasons of conscience, I could not fight for her, I must give her up for ever. Such an argument I do not commend to anybody else: but man is guided by more than reason alone: and in this great conflict, I wanted to play a clear and definite part. In small matters, it is easy enough to be guided by conventional loyalty. In great matters, a man has the right to hold himself responsible to Higher Justice alone.
Apart from my absolute belief in National-Socialism and my conviction of Hitler’s superhuman heroism, I had always been attracted to Germany. Perhaps the attraction was due to the German blood which flowed in the veins of some of my ancestors: it was no doubt helped by my veneration for the genius of men like Wagner and Goethe. Perchance my studies in Germanic Philology did much to make me aware of racial bonds that time and money have obscured. Whatever the reason may be, I grew up with that mystical attraction which has ended by my making Germany my permanent home.
My hopes of being able to play some part of a definite kind, however small, in this struggle have been realized, thanks to the wonderful kindness and trust with which I, as a stranger, was greeted.
It would be impossible for me to close this preface without adding that my wife has been of inestimable help to me. It was through National-Socialism that we met: and it was therefore only fitting that our decision to leave London for Germany on August 25th, 1939, was a joint decision. It was no small sacrifice for her to pack a few things into some suitcases and leave without even being able to say farewell to her parents: but the sacred purpose of this struggle to free the world offers more than ample compensation for any human sacrifice.
Finally, I should like to add that this book is in no sense an official publication.
In no way are the authorities of the Reich to be held responsible for any opinion which I may express. That I have been permitted to write freely what I would is due to that respect for freedom of honest expression which I have found everywhere in Germany since my arrival. Certainly propaganda against the state and people is not permitted: but, with this natural reservation, I can say that the authorities here display a breadth of mind which, to anybody who has read the English press, must seem astonishing.
The ideological reasons which have caused me to place my entire services at the disposal of the Third Reich are stated in the following chapters.
Source: Twilight Over England, full book available at Cosmotheist Books