Diana Mitford & Sir Oswald Mosley.
Of the six somewhat scandalous Mitford sisters, possibly the most controversial wedding was that of Diana to Oswald Mosley. It took place in Germany in October 1936 – less than three years before the outbreak of the Second World War. The marriage service was conducted in the home of the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels and the guest of honour was Adolf Hitler.
Both Diana and her intended had been married before. In fact, Oswald could have been described as a womaniser. Diana had married Bryan Guinness (yes, of that Guinness family) when she was eighteen and the couple had two children but in 1932 she met Oswald Mosley and the two embarked upon an affair.
Mosley was married. He too had children and had no wish to leave his wife. Even though she knew this, Diana left her husband, divorced him – something moderately scandalous in those days – and was expecting to live the rest of her life with just her children and no husband but continuing her relationship with Oswald. She moved into a house just five minutes walk away from his home.
But in 1933, his wife Cynthia was taken ill with appendicitis. She was operated on, successfully, and Mosley visited her in hospital and then, believing his wife to be in no danger, kept his evening liaison with Diana. But Cimmie, as she was known, contracted peritonitis and died at the young age of thirty three.
Although Mosley was grief-stricken, he embarked on a new affair with one of his late wife’s sisters. Diana was distraught but said later that she knew that he would return to her. And he did. At the beginning of 1934 the couple spent a month together in France. This was the start of their true relationship that lasted until Mosley died almost fifty years later.
Why were Diana Mitford and Oswald Mosley married in Germany?
Diana and Oswald weren’t exactly the most popular people in Britain at the time. He was the founder of the controversial British Union of Fascists. As for Diana, her divorce had not endeared her to many people and some people who were in the know wondered if her affair with Mosley had contributed to the death of the popular Cimmie. (Her doctors had reported that she made no attempt to fight for her life).
Diana, along with other members of her family, had been regularly travelling to Germany. Some of them, including Diana, had met several high Nazi officials, including Hitler. And in 1936 she and Mosley decided that they wanted to marry. Not only were they devoted, they wanted to have children. Diana said later that marriage meant nothing to her but ‘in those days, it was supposed to be better for children to be born in wedlock’. But they wanted to be married in secret. How could these two high-profile people manage that?
Diana was still travelling to Germany as she and Mosley planned to start an offshore radio station. At that time, the BBC held the broadcasting monopoly and the pair wanted to start a commercial station – so why not broadcast from Germany? Diana travelled to the country to investigate the idea.
But it was Goebbels who poured cold water on the idea. As propaganda chief, he wanted to be in control of the German airwaves. But although the radio plan proved to be untenable, one advantage of Diana’s trip was that she resumed her friendship with Goebbel’s wife, Magda.
Magda Goebbels was eight years older than Diana but the two women got on well. They confided in each other, especially where their love lives were concerned. Magda confided that her husband had been enjoying affairs and Diana revealed the problems she and Mosley were having in finding a place to be married that would remain a secret from the press. This was a problem Magda could solve. She offered her own home in Berlin. her idea was put to Hitler who agreed that he would ensure that the marriage would remain a secret from the press and that he would be pleased to attend.
For the ceremony, Diana wore a pale gold silk dress. The only people to attend, apart from Hitler and the Goebbels, were Diana’s sister Unity and Mosley’s two witnesses, Bill Allen and an army captain. The wedding party then enjoyed a celebratory meal organised by Magda Goebbels.
What happened to Magda Goebbels?
Maybe the name is familiar to you but you can’t quite remember why? Magda had seven children, the eldest of whom was adult and fighting in the war. But when the Red Army marched into Berlin in April 1945, Magda and her six younger children moved into a bunker adjacent to Hitler’s.
On 30th April Hitler and his wife of one day, Eva Braun, killed themselves. On the following day, Magda and Joseph Goebbels arranged for their six children to be rendered unconscious via morphine. Then, Magda killed her children by putting cyanide into their mouths while they slept. Magda and Goebbels killed themselves shortly afterwards.
Magda had already spoken to her sister-in-law – about a month previously – explaining what she intended to do any why. See below:
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