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Secret files released on Lord Haw Haw's wife
LONDON, England -- The wife of Nazi propaganda broadcaster Lord Haw Haw was not prosecuted for treason by Britain because officials felt she had suffered enough, according to secret files now released.
While much is known about the Nazi sympathiser William Joyce, less has emerged about the fate of his wife Margaret, who broadcast alongside her husband for German radio stations during World War II.
The couple, who had been active in British fascist circles before the war, married in 1937 in London and went to Germany in August 1939.
Margaret began broadcasting for German stations almost at once, at a time when her husband's identity as Lord Haw Haw had not been disclosed. He acquired his nickname because of his distinctive nasal drawl.
"Mrs Joyce was announced as Lady Haw Haw," according to files from Britain's MI5 intelligence service released on Friday as part of moves towards more open government.
She was not identified on the radio as Margaret Joyce until 1942 but people in Britain who knew her recognised her distinctive voice and told the police.
When Germany fell, Margaret was arrested in Flensburg and subjected to interrogation and imprisonment.
The files noted: "Her case is only less serious than that of William Joyce because she was less well-known and not so frequently heard in England as her husband."
Lord Haw Haw was executed for treason in 1946, and while some officials also wanted to prosecute his wife, there were disagreements over whether she was British or a naturalised German.
In the end, it was felt that no further action should be taken against her "on compassionate grounds."
"There is no lack of evidence implicating her in the treasonable activities of her late husband but the authorities do not think she need be punished further," the files conclude.
When the German-controlled Radio Luxembourg was overrun in the closing days of the war, files were found concerning the Joyces and also a British former school teacher from Jersey, Pearl Vardon, who had broadcast for the station.
Vardon had fallen in love with a German officer, Oberleutnant Siegfried Schwatlo, during the occupation of the Channel Islands and decided to follow him to Germany.
"She did not say why she was leaving (Jersey) but it seems clear from her statement that she wanted to follow the German officer with whom she was in love.
"It seems probable that this man was a Nazi and was responsible for Miss Vardon's pro-Nazi views," the files said.
"She is a British subject and probably a traitor," a British intelligence officer concluded after interviewing her following her capture in Germany in 1945.
Her broadcasts were considered less virulent than those of Lord Haw Haw, but nonetheless to have contained "some of the most familiar elements of German propaganda."
Vardon returned to Britain in 1946 and was jailed for nine months for broadcasting for the enemy.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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