Unity Mitford
British socialite, fascist
Unity Mitford
Unity Valkyrie Mitford was a member of the aristocratic Mitford family, tracing its origins in Northumberland back to the 11th century Norman settlement of England. Unity Mitford's sister Diana was married to Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists. In the UK and in Germany, she was a prominent and public supporter of Nazism and fascism and from 1936, a part of Hitler's inner circle of friends and confidants for five years.
Biography
Unity Mitford's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Unity Mitford from around the web
Lauren and Unity - National Review Online
Google News - over 5 years
Lauren Booth startlingly resembles Unity Mitford, the Nazi whose biography I once wrote. She too was well-connected and could get the occasional anti-Jewish article into print. She attended demonstrations. At one of them, in Germany in 1935,
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Google News article
Los rostros de las mujeres de Hitler - De10.com.mx
Google News - over 5 years
Unity Mitford. Sir Oswald Mosley, fundador del Partido Fascista Británico, le presentó a su cuñada, cuyo nombre era Unity Walkyrie Mitford, quien siempre sintió admiración por el alemán. Era tanta la fascinación que sentía por este hombre,
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Google News article
Virginia Cowles: The American who saw Britain at its best - Telegraph.co.uk
Google News - over 5 years
... seen in the new year of 1940 with Winston Churchill singing Run, Rabbit, Run and had tea with Hitler in Nuremberg (where Unity Mitford told her enthusiastically: “He says it's very exciting to have the whole world trembling before him”)
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Google News article
10th Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 Poster - MovieWeb
Google News - over 5 years
... Mitford and having read all the Potter books and knowing something of the history of the Mitfords I can easily see how Jessica would be the inspiration for Andromeda, Diana Mitford for Narcissa Malfoy and the tragic Unity Mitford for Bellatrix
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Google News article
Michael Burn, 97, Writer and Adventurer
NYTimes - over 6 years
Michael Burn, a British journalist and author whose eventful life included an early flirtation with Nazism; a daring commando raid on the fortified port of St.-Nazaire, France; imprisonment in Colditz Castle; a love affair with the British spy Guy Burgess; and a timely intervention in the aftermath of World War II that saved Audrey Hepburn's life,
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NYTimes article
BOOKS OF THE TIMES; In a Lifetime of Letters, the Evolution of an Aristocrat
NYTimes - over 10 years
Decca The Letters of Jessica Mitford Edited by Peter Y. Sussman 744 pages. Illustrated. Alfred A. Knopf. $35. From the late 1930s through the 1950s, the words ''Peer's Daughter'' were regularly lodged in British tabloid headlines above the startling doings of one or another of the Mitford sisters, daughters of the less startling, but equally
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NYTimes article
BOOKS OF THE TIMES; On a Treasure Hunt, Poetry as the Payoff
NYTimes - over 13 years
MY LIFE AS A FAKE By Peter Carey 266 pages. Alfred A. Knopf. $24. Peter Carey's clever, convoluted new novel is best read in light of the notes that begin and end it. In a coda, Mr. Carey explains an Australian literary hoax that came to light more than half a century ago. It involved the bogus poetry credited to one Ern Malley, and the fakers'
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NYTimes article
TELEVISION REVIEW; Dramatizing Nancy Mitford's Eccentric Family
NYTimes - about 15 years
Readers devoted to Nancy Mitford's sparkling, acerbic novels will recognize a moment of sheer hilarity on ''Masterpiece Theater'' when Linda Radlett asks the nurse to take her newborn daughter from the room. ''Oh do take it away, darling. Poor thing must have caught sight of itself in the glass,'' our heroine Linda says of the howling, unattractive
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NYTimes article
BOOKS OF THE TIMES; Adoring Fascism, Despite 'Tricky Bits'
NYTimes - almost 17 years
DIANA MOSLEY A Life By Jan Dalley Illustrated. Alfred A. Knopf. 318 pages. $27.50. In 1936 Diana Mitford Guinness married Oswald Mosley, Britain's foremost fascist, at the Berlin home of Josef and Magda Goebbels. The bride wore yellow silk. A guest at the small ceremony was her special friend Adolf Hitler, whose wedding gift was a large photograph
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NYTimes article
Books of The Times; Breathless Messages Of Gossip and Honor
NYTimes - about 23 years
Love From Nancy The Letters of Nancy Mitford Edited by Charlotte Mosley Illustrated. 538 pages. Houghton Mifflin Company. $35. "Darling Mark. . . . "I tried to commit suicide by gas, it is a lovely sensation just like taking anesthetic so I shan't be sorry any more for schoolmistresses who are found dead in that way, but just in the middle I
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NYTimes article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Unity Mitford
    THIRTIES
  • 1948
    Age 33
    On 28 May 1948, Mitford died of meningitis caused by the cerebral swelling around the bullet. "Her sisters, even those who deplored her politics and hated her association with Hitler, mourned her deeply."
    More Details Hide Details She was buried at Swinbrook Churchyard. Her gravestone reads, "Say not the struggle naught availeth." On 1 December 2002, following the release of declassified documents (including the diary of wartime MI5 head Guy Liddell), investigative journalist Martin Bright published an article in The Observer that claimed Home Secretary John Anderson intervened to prevent Mitford being questioned on her return from Germany and that the shooting, which "has become part of the Mitford myth," may have been invented to excuse this.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1943
    Age 28
    Norah Elam and her husband Dudley escorted Mitford to see Diana and Oswald Mosley in Holloway on 18 March 1943.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1941
    Age 26
    He received special permission to open it and discovered that in October 1941, while living at the family home in Swinbrook, she had been consorting with a married RAF test pilot – throwing doubt on her reported invalidity.
    More Details Hide Details Bright then abandoned the investigation, until he mentioned the story to an executive from Channel 4 who thought it was a good subject for a documentary film. Further investigation was then undertaken as part of the filming for Hitler's British Girl. This included a visit to an Oxfordshire register office, showing an abnormally large number of birth registrations at Hill View at that time, apparently confirming its use as a maternity hospital. No records were found for Mitford, although the records officer stated many births were not registered at this time. The publication of the article and the broadcast of the film the following week stimulated media speculation that Hitler's child could be living in the United Kingdom.
    Up to 11 September 1941, Mitford is reported to have had an affair with RAF Pilot Officer John Andrews, a test pilot, who was stationed at the nearby RAF Brize Norton.
    More Details Hide Details MI5 learned of this and reported it to Home Secretary Herbert Morrison in October. He had heard that she "drives about the countryside … and picks up airmen, etc, and … interrogates them." Andrews, a former bank clerk, a married father, was "removed as far away as the limited extent of the British Isles permits." He was re-posted to the far north of Scotland where he died in a Spitfire crash in 1945. Authorities then concluded that Mitford did not pose a significant threat. Mitford was taken seriously ill on a visit to the family-owned island of Inch Kenneth and was taken to hospital in Oban. Doctors had decided it was too dangerous to remove the bullet in her head.
  • 1940
    Age 25
    In the article Bright pointed out that press photographers and other observers that witnessed the return of Mitford, and "her entourage" that he claims included other known Nazi supporters, to Britain on 3 January 1940 said that, "there were no outward signs of her injury".
    More Details Hide Details Liddell's diary entry for 2 January states "We had no evidence to support the press allegations that she was in a serious state of health and it might well be that she was brought in on a stretcher in order to avoid publicity and unpleasantness to her family." He had wanted to search her upon her return but had been prevented from doing so by the Home Secretary. On 8 January, Liddell notes receiving a report from the Security Control Officers who were responsible for meeting the arrivals that states "there were no signs of a bullet wound." Mitford's cousin, Rupert Mitford, 6th Baron Redesdale, replied to the accusations by saying, "I love conspiracy theories but it goes a little far to suggest Unity was faking it. But people did wonder how she was up on her feet so soon after shooting herself in the head." Unity's sister, Deborah, rebutted by stating that the entourage that returned with Unity consisted of herself and their mother and although she doesn't remember them being searched upon return, that Unity "could not walk, talked with difficulty and was a changed personality, like one who had had a stroke", and that she has detailed records from Professor Cairns, neurosurgeon at the Nuffield Hospital in Oxford, on her condition, including X-rays showing the bullet.
    Stating she could remember nothing of the incident, Mitford returned to England with her mother and sister in January 1940 amid a flurry of press interest and her comment, "I'm glad to be in England, even if I'm not on your side", led to public calls for her internment as a traitor.
    More Details Hide Details Due to the intervention by Home Secretary John Anderson, at the behest of her father, she was left to live out her days with her mother at the family home at Swinbrook, Oxfordshire. Under the care of Professor Cairns, neurosurgeon at the Nuffield Hospital in Oxford, "She learned to walk again, but never fully recovered. She was incontinent and childish." Mitford was keen to visit her sister Diana in Holloway Prison, and Norah Elam offered to look after her at their home in Logan Place for a short period.
  • 1939
    Age 24
    At the 1939 Bayreuth Festival, Hitler warned Unity and her sister Diana that war with Britain was inevitable within weeks and they should return home.
    More Details Hide Details Diana returned to England where she was arrested and imprisoned, while Unity chose to remain in Germany, though her family sent pleas for her to come home. After Britain's declaration of war on Germany on 3 September 1939, Unity was distraught. Diana Mitford told an interviewer in 1999: "She told me that if there was a war, which of course we all terribly hoped there might not be, that she would kill herself because she couldn't bear to live and see these two countries tearing each other to pieces, both of which she loved." Unity went to the English Garden in Munich, took a pearl-handled pistol given to her by Hitler for protection, and shot herself in the head. Surviving the suicide attempt she was hospitalised in Munich, where she was visited by Hitler, despite the on-going war. He paid her bills and arranged for her return home.
  • 1938
    Age 23
    In 1938, Hitler gave her a choice of four apartments in Munich, one flat lived in by a Jewish couple.
    More Details Hide Details Mitford is reported to have then visited the apartment to discuss her decoration and design plans, while the soon-to-be-dispossessed couple still sat in the kitchen crying. Immediately prior to this, she had lived in the house of Erna Hanfstaengl, sister of early Hitler admirer and confidante Ernst Hanfstaengl, but was ordered to leave when Hitler became angry with the Hanfstaengls. Many prominent Nazis were also suspicious of Mitford and her relationship to their Führer. In his memoirs, Inside the Third Reich, Albert Speer said of Hitler's select group: "One tacit agreement prevailed: No one must mention politics. The sole exception was Lady sic Mitford, who even in the later years of international tension persistently spoke up for her country and often actually pleaded with Hitler to make a deal with Britain. In spite of Hitler's discouraging reserve, she did not abandon her efforts through all those years". Mitford summered at the Berghof where she continued to discuss a possible German-British alliance with Hitler, going so far as to supply lists of potential supporters and enemies.
  • 1936
    Age 21
    A 1936 report went further, proclaiming her "more Nazi than the Nazis" and stated that she gave the Hitler salute to the British Consul General in Munich, who immediately requested that her passport be impounded.
    More Details Hide Details
    The letter caused public outrage in Britain but Hitler rewarded her with an engraved golden swastika badge, a private box at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and a ride in a party Mercedes to the Bayreuth Festival.
    More Details Hide Details From this point on, Mitford was inducted into Hitler's inner circle and remained with him for five years. When Hitler announced the Anschluss in 1938, she appeared with him on the balcony in Vienna. She was later arrested in Prague for distributing Nazi propaganda. Pryce Jones reports that "She Mitford saw him, it seemed, more than a hundred times, no other English person could have anything like that access to Hitler", and the suspicions of the British SIS were aroused. MI5 head Guy Liddell wrote in his diary: "Unity Mitford had been in close and intimate contact with the Führer and his supporters for several years, and was an ardent and open supporter of the Nazi regime. She had remained behind after the outbreak of war and her action had come perilously close to high treason."
  • TEENAGE
  • 1934
    Age 19
    Mitford returned to Germany in the summer of 1934, enrolling in a language school in Munich close to the Nazi Party headquarters.
    More Details Hide Details Dalley notes "She was obsessed with meeting Hitler, so she really set out to stalk him." Pryce Jones elaborates: After ten months, Hitler finally invited her to his table where they talked for over half-an-hour with Hitler picking up her bill. In a letter to her father, Mitford wrote: "It was the most wonderful and beautiful day of my life. I am so happy that I wouldn't mind a bit, dying. I'd suppose I am the luckiest girl in the world. For me he is the greatest man of all time". Hitler had also become smitten with the young blonde British student. He was struck by her curious connections to the Germanic culture including her middle name, Valkyrie. Mitford's grandfather, Algernon Freeman-Mitford, had been a friend of Richard Wagner, one of Hitler's idols, and had translated the works of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, another inspiration for Hitler. Dalley says, "Hitler was extremely superstitious, and he believed that Unity was sort of sent to him, it was destined." Mitford subsequently received invitations to party rallies and state occasions, and was described by Hitler as "a perfect specimen of Aryan womanhood."
  • 1933
    Age 18
    Unity and Diana Mitford travelled to Germany as part of the British delegation from the British Union of Fascists, to the 1933 Nuremberg Rally, seeing Hitler for the first time.
    More Details Hide Details Mitford later said, "The first time I saw him I knew there was no one I would rather meet." Biographer Anne de Courcy confirms: "The Nuremberg rally had a profound effect on both Diana and Unity... Unity was already, as it were, convinced about Hitler, but this turned conviction into worship. From then on she wanted to be near Hitler as much as possible".
  • 1932
    Age 17
    Mitford was a debutante in 1932.
    More Details Hide Details That same year her elder sister Diana left her husband to pursue an affair with Oswald Mosley who had just founded the British Union of Fascists. Their father was furious at the disgrace and forbade any member of the family to see either Diana or "The Man Mosley", as he termed him. Mitford disobeyed and she met with Mosley that summer at a party thrown by Diana where she was promised a party badge. Mosley's son, Nicholas, stated that: "Unity became a very extrovert member of the party, which was her way She joined my father's party and she used to turn up, she used to go around in a black shirt uniform, and she used to turn up at communist meetings and she used to do the fascist salute and heckle the speaker. That was the sort of person she was". He adds that although his father admired Unity's commitment, Mosley felt "She wasn't doing him any good, because she was making an exhibition of herself."
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1914
    Born
    Born on August 8, 1914.
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Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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