John Amery: the antisemitism of the 'perfect English gentleman'

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The author explores the antisemitism of John Amery, the fascist renegade who along with William Joyce was hanged for treason after the Second World War. Like Joyce, Amery was a radio propagandist who made a series of war-time broadcasts from Berlin. Beyond this, he also tried to enlist British POWs to fight against the Soviets on the Eastern Front. Amery was the son of a senior British cabinet minister and yet, compared with Joyce, he has received little serious attention. What has been written about Amery tends to denude him of any ideological sophistication and presents him as a rather farcical figure, an irresponsible and foolhardy adventurer who was motivated by a simple fear of Communism. Copsey departs significantly from these standard representations and, using Amery's radio broadcasts and much-neglected propagandistic writings, shows the extent to which antisemitism became Amery's core obsession. Attentive to the ways in which an upper-class background influenced Amery's thinking, Copsey delineates the contours of his virulent antisemitism. What this article reveals is that, beneath the surface charm of the 'perfect English gentleman', Amery's hatred of Jews was deeply rooted in conspiracy theory and racial ideology. Despite all this, one cannot escape the curious fact that Amery's father was half-Jewish. On this point, Copsey examines whether Amery's passionate antisemitism was also psychologically driven.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-27
JournalPatterns of Prejudice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2002


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