The death of Lady Diana Mosley at the age of 93 on the 11th August 2003 is a sad loss to all Friends of Oswald Mosley. Quite apart from being the wife of the Leader, she was a remarkable person in her own right. She was a woman of considerable intellect, charm and personal courage.
Although born into an aristocratic English family, Lady Mosley was completely devoid of snobbery. She considered the views and opinions of ordinary people from the East End of London, or northern mining towns, no less important than those of the mighty and influential – and would engage both in conversation with the same degree of interest, consideration and attention.
The life of Lady Mosley has been told many times, not least in her excellent autobiography ‘A Life of Contrasts’, and need not be repeated here. But her service to the Modern Movement in Britain cannot be over emphasised. Although she never took part in a Mosley march or spoke on a public platform, her contribution to the campaign to prevent the decline of our country was enormous.
In the late 1930s, she was the leading negotiator in the Air Time Project: the plan to open commercial radio stations in foreign countries broadcasting popular music to Britain. The large amount of advertising revenue generated would have given British Union the money to mount a powerful campaign for the minds of the British people on a scale that could well have proved decisive. Only the intervention of the Second World War prevented the Project from achieving fruition.
After the War, Lady Mosley used her formidable skills as a writer to produce ‘The European’: the Union Movement magazine that soon gathered around it a growing number of first-class intellectuals interested in Mosley’s concept of ‘Europe a Nation’. She later continued to advance her husband’s cause with powerfully expressed articles in ‘Union’, ‘Action’ and the ‘National European’.
During the 1930s she counted Adolf Hitler among her friends. This was at a time when he was widely admired for solving the overwhelming problems of unemployment, housing and hyperinflation in Germany. Even Winston Churchill was on record as saying “if Great Britain ever sank to the level of the Weimer Republic, I hope there would arise an ‘Adolf Hitler’ to help us”. Only those who do not understand their gift of hindsight would find either of these things strange.
After the War, when the news of the large-scale massacres of Jewish, Polish, Russian and other Eastern European civilians in German controlled areas first became known, Lady Mosley admitted that at first she did not believe it. When eventually the evidence was overwhelming, she publically stated that Hitler had been a monster to allow such things to happen. However, Lady Mosley saw no incongruity in describing the Hitler she knew as charming, courteous and amusing.
She would tell the story of the time Hitler visited the local officials of some local district of the Nazi Party for a meeting in a beer cellar. The officials were all fond of their lager but they knew their Fuhrer was strictly teetotall. Hitler asked the Gaulieter what he wanted to drink. ‘A mineral water, mien Fuhrer’ came the reply. The response was the same from all the party officials present except the last who sported a distinctly red nose. He boldly told Hitler: ‘I will have a litre of lager, mien Fuhrer’. There was a sharp intake of breath from the other Nazis present. But Hitler smiled, slapped him on the shoulder and declared ‘At last an honest man!’
Lady Mosley also informed an unsuspecting world that Hitler was a master of mime and charades. He would go through the exaggerated actions of someone rolling a cigarette with all the paraphernalia of loose tobacco, cigarette papers, filter tips, rolling machine and matches. But just as he was about to light the imaginary cigarette, he would throw it over his shoulder and exclaim: ‘Unfortunately you can’t smoke roll-ups when you’re the dictator of Germany!”
Such private insights into unknown aspects of Hitler’s personality should, one would have thought, be of some interest to those trying to understand the complexities of his mind. Have we not been told that if we do not study history we will be forced to repeat it?
But ‘politically correct’ interviewers were aghast that Lady Mosley could speak of such insights into Hitler’s character. All they wanted was the response ‘Hitler was evil’ repeated over and over and over again. But having said once that her former friend was responsible for monstrous acts, she saw no value in repetition and continued to shock the interviewers with personal anecdotes about the German Leader. It was important to her never to give them the satisfaction.
If it had been Josef Stalin she had known, who murdered far more civilians in peacetime than occurred under Hitler’s rule during the war, one senses the insights into his personality would have been quite acceptable.
Lady Mosley always spoke her mind regardless of who was listening. Towards the end of her life, she co-operated with author Anna de Courcy in an official biography that was only to be published after her death.
One suspects that we have not heard the last from Lady Mosley.
The Friends of Oswald Mosley offers its sincere condolences to Lady Mosley’s four sons, sister and all her family covering four generations.
Listen to Diana Mosley edited interview on the BBC’s “Desert Island Disks” Click here