John Amery, the son of Leo Amery, was born on 14th March, 1912. He was educated at Harrow. A report pointed out: "At Harrow he resented discipline and scoffed at the current conventions. He stole from shops and from other boys, absconded at nights to visit a night club and to tout for night club clients." The headmaster at the school, Cyril Norwood, argued: "Of all the boys whom I have known. John Amery was the most abnormal. Just because John Amery was morally imbecile it was not possible to make anything of him at Harrow".
After finishing his education he went into business but was declared bankrupt in 1936. By this time he had acquired seventy-four convictions for motoring offences. In October 1936 Amery moved to Spain where he worked as a gun-runner for General Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War. He also served as an intelligence officer with Italian volunteer forces. Amery also met Jacques Doriot the French fascist leader.
After the war Amery and Doriot travelled together to Austria, Czechoslovakia, Italy and Germany before going to live in France. In 1941 Amery was recruited by the Nazis and began making pro Adolf Hitler broadcasts in Berlin. On 19th November, 1942, he stated: "Listeners will wonder what an Englishman is doing on the German radio tonight. You can imagine that before taking this step I hoped that someone better qualified than me would come forward. I dared to believe that some ray of common sense, some appreciation of our priceless civilization would guide the counsels of Mr Churchill's Government. Unfortunately this has not been the case! For two years living in a neutral country I have been able to see through the haze of propaganda to reach something which my conscience tells me is the truth. That is why I come forward tonight without any political label, without any bias, but just simply as an Englishman to say to you: a crime is being committed against civilization. Not only the priceless heritage of our fathers, of our seamen, of our Empire builders is being thrown away in a war that serves no British interests - but our alliance leader Stalin dreams of nothing but the destruction of that heritage of our fathers? Morally this is a stain on our honour, practically it can only lead sooner or later to disaster and Communism in Great Britain, to a disintegration of all the values we cherish most."
In April 1943 Amery established the Legion of St. George and attempted to persuade British prisoners to fight for Germany against the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front. This was embarrassing for Leo Amery who served as secretary of state for India and Burma during the Second World War.
In the final months of the war Amery moved to Italy where he made propaganda speeches on behalf of Benito Mussolini. He also made broadcasts on Italian radio. Amery was captured by Italian partisans in Milan in April 1945, and soon afterwards was handed over to the British authorities.
His father, Leo Amery, a member of the British government, commissioned Dr. Edward Glover to write a psychiatric report on John Amery. He reported that: "John Amery has exhibited throughout his life all the symptoms of psychopathy of a type which borders on the schizoid (psychotic) character and which under ordinary circumstances ends in compulsive delinquent and anti-social conduct... The whole picture is completely characteristic of severe psychiapathy negativism, unteachability, fear of attack of a paranoid type, antisocial behaviour, delinquency, lack of moral feeling and conscience, sexual abnormality. And so on. No element is missing."
After being interviewed by MI5 Amery was tried for high treason. On 28th November, 1945, Amery pleaded guilty to eight counts of treason. The Times reported: "Amery, who is 33, was described as a politician. He took the sentence with complete composure. He bowed to Mr. Justice Humphreys when he was brought into Court, and also after sentence had been passed. While the proceedings lasted he appeared most of the time to have half a smile on his face. After sentence had been passed he walked away with bowed head to the cells below the dock. The sudden end of the case was dramatic." It was later claimed that Amery admitted his guilt in order to save his family the pain of a long trial.
John Amery was hanged on 19th December, 1945.