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William Joyce is best known for his involvement in the British Fascist Party during World War II and immigrating to Nazi Germany.
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The following day Radio Hamburg was seized by advancing British forces, which made a final, mock "Germany Calling!" broadcast, denouncing Joyce, who had been forced to flee again, with his wife, this time north towards the Danish border.
On May 28, 1945, Joyce was captured by British forces near the German-Danish border, in the town of Flensburg.
Apparently Joyce's accent had raised suspicions, and when he went to retrieve his forged identification papers from his pocket,
to prove he wasn't Joyce, he was thought to be reaching for a pistol, and was shot in the leg by an interpreter attached to the British forces, named Lieutenant Perry.
After recovering for a fortnight in Lueneberg Military Hospital, Joyce was transported back to the U.K on June 16, 1945.
His capture was seen as a significant coup for the authorities and, conveniently, the day before Joyce's arrival, the Treason Act 1945 had been granted Royal Assent by King George VI, enabling Joyce to be charged with three counts of high treason.
The original intention of the authorities was to try Joyce for treason immediately, but when his complicated nationality issues came to light, the court case was forced back until September.
It was not clear that an individual, born in the United States, raised in Ireland, who obtained British citizenship via deception for a relatively short period, and who then obtained naturalized German citizenship, could legally be tried for treason against the British Crown, by broadcasting propaganda in an area outside of the Crown's legal jurisdiction. Clearly, if Joyce owed no allegiance to the Crown, he could not be tried for committing treason against it.
When the case went to trial, on September 17, 1945, Joyce was charged with three counts of high treason.
The case took three days to hear. In order to overcome the confusion surrounding his citizenship, the prosecution argued that the British passport, which Joyce had renewed immediately prior to his escape from Britain, and which was valid until July 2, 1940, entitled him to the protection afforded to all British passport holders, and that he therefore owed allegiance in return. Had he kept his U.S. citizenship during his time in Britain, he could never have been prosecuted on treason charges in the U.K.
The judge accepted the point of law presented, but instructed the jury to find him not guilty on the first two counts, which extended to periods beyond the validity dates of his British passport, when he was recognized in law to have been a U.S. citizen.
The jury returned a verdict of guilty on the single remaining count of high treason. Carrying a mandatory capital sentence, the judge had no choice but to sentence William Joyce to death by hanging.
Despite general public satisfaction that Joyce had been brought to justice, there was widespread unease that his death penalty was as severe a sentence as those meted out to major war criminals, like those responsible for the massacres carried out in concentration camps.
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