Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Unity and Pamela Mitford

Unity and Pamela are possibly the most diametrically opposed of the Mitford sisters, with Unity being the most notorious for her relationship with Hitler, and Pamela being the most unobtrusive, settling for a life out of the limelight with her horses. The warrior and the woman.

Unity Valkyrie Mitford was ironically conceived in Swastika, Ontario, where her parents would occasionally work a gold mine they owned. Later when she became involved with the Third Reich she would take this as a sign that she was destined to be with Hitler. By the time Unity was debuting in society her family had already made quite a ruckus, with her sister Diana leaving her husband, the heir of the Guinness fortune, for Oswald Mosley, the head of the British Union of Fascists. Unity was never the wit or the beauty of the family and seemed to set herself apart through her shock value. She notoriously would bring her pets to balls and when things got a little boring she would spice them up by saying her rat or snake was on the loose. She longed to find the perfect tease and initially she thought she had found it by joining the BUF and setting up against her younger sister Jessica and her fervent communist beliefs. But Unity's tease seems to have become real devotion, if a bit fanatical, to fascism. 

Unlike her sisters she didn't want to be "finished" in France and begged to go to Germany. Her parents relented and soon Unity found her place in the world and in history, dubious though it may be. She became obsessed with the Nazis and worshipped Hitler, spending months and months figuring out his routine and how she could cross paths with him. Her months of stalking paid off and she soon became a confidant of Hitler's, one of his inner circle. No one knows the extent of their relationship, but they were frequently in each others company. There is every chance that it was just true friendship and not salacious at all, but their closeness as war loomed on the horizon made Unity one of the most reviled women in England, along with her sister Diana. As war seemed more and more inevitable those close to Unity worried about her because she began to make cryptic messages about not being around if there was war because she couldn't face the two countries she loved fighting. On the day war was declared between England and Germany Unity shot herself in the head, but survived. She would live to see the end of the war in a bizarre infantile state brought on by the brain damage the bullet wrought. She would never make a full recovery and contacted meningitis and died before she was even 34 years old.

Unlike Unity, Pamela was quiet and retiring, the rural Mitford. She was called "Woman" by all her family members for her domestic aptitude and her love of home and hearth, becoming "Tante Femme" to her various nieces and nephews whom she adored. Pam also loved the horse and hounds life even though she had problems with one of her legs due to a case of polio as a child, which would trouble her more and more as she aged. She married and divorced without making waves and spent several of the war years caring for her sister Diana's children while Diana was in prison, but was sadly not blessed with her own children, suffering several miscarriages. Living for years on the Cavendish estate in Ireland, she eventually settled down in Zurich where she lived with an Italian horsewoman, Giuditta Tommasi. Much like Unity and Hitler, there was much speculation even among the other siblings about the relationship between Pam and Giuditta. Pam was still living an active life till the end, not letting age (and considerable age at 86) slow her down. On her deathbed her main concern was "Who won the Grand National."


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