Being referred to as a “friend of Hitler” could well be the most unforgiving moniker history could bestow.
Diana Mitford was indeed an uncompromised friend of Adolf Hitler’s, as well the wife of Sir Oswald Mosely, the head of the British Union of Fascists (BUF).
One of, and arguably the most well-known, of the Mitford Sisters, Diana was also regarded as the most beautiful of her siblings. Her close friend, James Lees-Milne, wrote of her that “She was the nearest thing to Botticelli’s Venus that I have ever seen”.
All the Mitford sisters had nicknames and seemed to adopt something like a linguistic microclimate in conversation. Diana, or “Honks”, as was her moniker, was born June 10th, 1910 in Westminster, London. Her childhood and that of her siblings are quite well documented, thanks in large part to sister Jessica’s (“Decca’s”) autobiographical “Hons and Rebels“. Diana Mitford herself would churn out an autobiography called”A Life Of Contrasts”, in 1970.
As crimereads.com points out, she was not a dangerous woman in the more straightforwardly criminal sense. Indeed, reading some of her letters—the six sisters wrote to each other frequently, sometimes daily, across several decades—shows a woman who is loyal to her family, bewildered by the spiky jibes of her oldest sister Nancy (the novelist, the one you’d most like to go for a Whisky Sour with), adoring of her husband and children. And yet she was also a fascist, jailed for the dangerousness of her beliefs during the second world war. Each of the six Mitford sisters was fascinating in her own way, each representing a different facet of that fast-moving, giddy, highly politicized time. If you’re not familiar, a brief rundown is as follows, in order of age: Nancy, a novelist, with a satirical, biting wit; Pamela, a countrywoman at heart, the rock of them all; Diana, of which, more later; Unity, who became obsessed with Hitler and attempted to shoot herself on the outbreak of war; Jessica, who eloped with their Communist cousin; and, Deborah, who became the Duchess of Devonshire and chatelaine of one of Britain’s greatest houses, Chatsworth.
In early, 1932, Diana Mitford first met Oswald Mosley. At the time, Mosley was still married and had just become the head of the British Union of Fascists. He took Diana as his lover while refusing to leave his wife, Cynthia until she died in 1933.
It was in 1934 that Diana first went to Germany with Unity. After having attended the Nuremberg rally Diana, courtesy of Unity met Hitler for the first time in 1935.
Later that year, the two attended another rally, this time as honored guests of the Fuhrer. Diana Mitford would become close with a number of Hitler’s inner circle, in particular Magna Goebbels, wife of the Reich’s minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels. In late 1936, Sir Mosley and Diana Mitford were married at the home of the Reich’s minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels. Hitler was an honored guest at the ceremony.
Laura Thompson in her phenomenal book “The Six“, wrote that Hitler’s sexuality has been much speculated over, but…Diana almost certainly attracted Hitler in the conventional way, like most men whom she met, he found her beautiful and desirable. She in turn found him immensely good company.
Thompson went on to write that, Diana took Mosley to Munich in April 1935 and Hitler gave a rather dull lunch for him. The following year, she suggested to Winston Churchill that he should meet Hitler – she was the only person in the world who could have introduced them socially – and although Churchill refused it was, in some way, an opportunity missed.
Thompson further wrote that some thirty years later, the memoirs were published of Baldur von Schirach, leader of the Hitler Youth and later a prisoner at Spandau. He wrote that Diana and Unity strengthened Hitler’s belief that there were two elements in Britain: one dominated by Jews and Parliamentarians, the other recognizing the blood relationship with Germany.
After The War
Biographer Anne De Courcy wrote that “after the war, ostracised by many, the Mosleys rebuilt their lives, making homes first in Ireland and then in the Temple de la Gloire outside Paris, entertaining and being entertained y pre-war friends and new ones, including the Windsors. Attempts by Mosley to re-enter mainstream British politics failed abjectly but he continued to propound political views. His death, after almost fifty years together devastated Diana. She remained beautiful into extreme old age and, gradually, attained iconic status, with friends and devotees making pilgrimages to the Temple de la Gloire as to a shrine.”
So it was in 2003, that Diana Mosley succumbed to the European heatwave at the age of 93. She would confess to journalist Andrew Roberts that, “I’m sure he [Hitler] was to blame for the extermination of the Jews,”. “He was to blame for everything, and I say that as someone who approved of him.” Roberts criticized Lady Mosley following her death on the pages of The Daily Telegraph declaring that she was an “unrepentant Nazi and effortlessly charming.” He, in turn, was assailed three days later, in the same newspaper, by her son and granddaughter. A. N. Wilson wrote for the same newspaper and said that her public loyalty for Mosley and Hitler were disastrous mistakes. Wilson claimed that privately, Diana admitted that the Nazis were “really rather awful”.
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