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Although we have a Jay Family Story about the heroic Adam Von Trott who tried to defeat Adolf Hitler by leading a revolution from within the German government, we also have a Family Story about a Nazi sympathizer and propagandist, Douglas Chandler. Chandler is related to the Jay family through his marriage to Laura Jay Wurts, the great-granddaughter of John Clarkson Jay and Laura Prime.

Douglas Chandler was born in Chicago in May of 1889. He never attended college but joined the advertising business at age 18. When World War I broke out, he enlisted and became an officer in the Navy. After the war, he worked as a journalist for the Baltimore Sunday American on a world news column, This and That. After establishing success as a journalist, in 1924 Chandler married the wealthy Laura Jay Wurts. The couple lived happily for several years, until the stock market crash of 1929. Despite Laura’s family money and Douglas’ career success, they were nearly ruined financially. “Fed up with the depression and miasma enveloping Washington,” the Chandlers, along with their two small daughters, Florence and Laurette, moved to Germany in 1931.

Chandler perhaps picked Germany as a destination because he had been a student of Nazism since about 1928. Like many citizens of Germany at that time, the Great Depression and the philosophies of Hitler only fueled his rage and anti-Semitism.

Once in Germany, Chandler continued his career in journalism, writing frequently on European geologic and ethnologic subjects for National Geographic. He worked in that job for about a decade before his treasonous pro-Nazi propaganda began in April of 1941, in the form of a radio show. His show aired on the Reichs-Runfunk-Gesesllschaft, the German state radio under control of Hitler’s right-hand man, Joseph Goebbels. His broadcasts were intentionally directed at American audiences and aired in the United States. He would do the show under the pseudonym “Paul Revere,” and each broadcast began with a fife and drum rendition of “Yankee Doodle,” perhaps intended as a subversive appeal to Americans sense of patriotism.

Chandler’s broadcasts were thuggish and repulsively anti-Semitic, frequently repeating the fanatical theories espoused by Adolf Hitler. Despite his abhorrent beliefs, he did not share all of Hitler’s views for how government should be run, stating in one broadcast that, “I do not advocate National Socialism for America.” At some point during this time, Chandler’s wife, Laura Jay Wurts passed away.

By the end of 1943, bombings in Berlin forced Chandler to move to Vienna, Austria, and then to Munich, where he made his final broadcast in February of 1945. Shortly after, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted Douglas Chandler, and several other American and European Nazi collaborators, on charges of treason. He was arrested by the U.S. Army in March of 1946 at his home in Durach, Germany, and promptly flown to America to stand trial.

Chandler’s trial began in June of 1947 at the Boston Federal District Court where he entered a plea of “not guilty by reason of insanity,” claiming that he had frequent “paranoia.” On June 28, 1947, he was found guilty on ten counts of treason, sentenced to life in prison, given a $10,000 fine, and stripped of his U.S. citizenship. After 16 years of imprisonment, he was released in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy, on the condition that he immediately leave the Untied States and never return. After his release, there is very little record of Douglas Chandler. The prevailing thought is that he lived as a drifter, and perhaps died somewhere in the Canary Islands.