John Amery was born in 1912 to Leo Amery. His father was half-Jewish and a Conservative government minister, and served as Winston Churchill’s Minster for India. John Amery had all the advantages of a wealthy childhood, with private tutors and schooling at the prestigious Harrow School for Boys. However, he only lasted one year at Harrow, and the headmaster reported that John Amery was the most difficult boy he had ever tried to manage.
Amery struggled to live in his father’s shadow and began working in film production. He set up a number of different companies which failed and left him bankrupt. At 21 he married Una Wing, a former prostitute, but he never made enough money to keep her loyal to him. He constantly appealed to his father for money and became an avid opponent of communism. He supported Nazi Germany because he believed that it was the only way to stop the Bolshevism of Russia.
After being declared bankrupt in 1936, he left England to live in France. He remained in France even after the German occupation, and in 1942 the Germans decided that he could be useful to their propaganda operations. Having the son of a British government minister allied with the Nazi cause could go a long way in convincing not only Germans but other Europeans that the Nazis were on the right side of history.
In Germany in 1942, Amery spoke to the German English Committee. It was here that he gained the attention of Adolf Hitler, who was very impressed with him. Hitler allowed Amery to stay in Germany as guest of the Reich in order to assist with their propaganda machine. He started making pro-German propaganda broadcasts which were meant to convince Britons to join the war on communism.
The Nazis were happy with Amery’s work and decided to increase his role. They sent him back to France in order to make contact with pro-Nazi Frenchmen. It was while in Paris that he met up with some of the Frenchmen who had joined the “Foreign Legions,” a group of non-Germans who fought alongside the SS. This was not enough for Amery, and he had another idea for how he could help the German cause and convince more of his fellow Britons to join him in the fight. It was a plan that would lead to his eventual death for treason against Britain.