Strange Journey: the life of Dorothy Eckersley


Stephen M. Cullen, last updated: 19th November 2013

Meeting in Berlin

Three days before the outbreak of the Second World War, William Joyce, the leader of the British Nazi group, the National Socialist League, was in Berlin. He and his wife, Margaret, had fled there fearing internment by the British government if war broke out. Yet as war drew nearer, Joyce was unsure whether to return to Britain or not. But a meeting that day sealed his fate, leading to years of broadcasting for German radio, notoriety as ‘Lord Haw Haw', and his execution for treason in January 1946.

The meeting was accidental, with the Joyces bumping into one of his English supporters - Mrs Frances ‘Dorothy' Eckersley - in a Berlin restaurant. Dorothy Eckersley was surprised to see Joyce, to whom she had recently sent £50 to help the NSL find a new headquarters in London. Now, having a far better network of friends and acquaintances in Berlin than the almost friendless Joyces, she was able to put him in touch with officials who recruited Joyce to the radio propaganda microphone. And by the end of 1939, Dorothy, and her son, James, would join the English language team broadcasting German propaganda to the UK. At 46, Dorothy had already led an extraordinary life that had taken her from the stage in America to the microphone in Berlin, marriage with one of the most gifted radio engineers of the time, and years of political activism with the radical socialist Independent Labour Party. Yet now she was a committed follower of Hitler and a national socialist...

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