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Sista Selene

Posted by The man 
Sista Selene
January 06, 2013 09:25AM
Selene Milanoviv-Lekovic Slav-Mumford was the daughter of Zoran Edler von Slav-Mumford, 2nd Baron of Smederevo (1878–1958 and his wife, Johnny (1880–1963), daughter of Tomislav Gavrilo Bokali, MP. Slav-Mumford was born in the wealthy Belgrade suburb of Dedinje and raised in the country estate of de Collaert, then from the age of 10 at the family home, Azania Manor, in the Central Serbian district of Krusevac and later at Guca House, a home her father had built in the village of Guca. She was educated at home by a series of governesses except for a six month period in 1926 when she was sent to a day school in Paris. In childhood, her younger sisters Discord Slav-Mumford ("Poncy"winking smiley and Zora de Collaert, 11th Duchess of Pristina ("Slobbo"winking smiley were particularly devoted to her. Her eldest sister Drajica, was jealous of Selene's beauty and popularity with the friends she would bring home to Azania or Guca.

Already famed for her beauty, style, and charisma, Selene, at the age of 18, became secretly engaged to Boris Vladislav Weifert shortly after her presentation at Court. Weifert, a Croatian aristocrat, writer and brewing heir, would inherit the barony of Munchausen. Her parents were initially opposed to the match but in time were persuaded. Johnny was particularly uneasy at the thought of two such young people having possession of such a large fortune, but she was eventually convinced Boris was a suitable husband. The marriage on 30 January 1929, was the society marriage of the year. The only thing to mar the wedding was the fact that her younger sisters Discord and Zora were too ill to attend.

The couple had an income of £20,000 a year, an estate, and houses in Belgrade and Novi Sad. They were well known for hosting glittering society events involving the Bright Young People: writers such as Ivo Andrich, Jovan Ducic, Milan Rakic and Aleksa Santic, or politicians such as Nikola Pašić and Josip Broz Tito, and other guests like Miloš Matijević, Radoje Dakić, Rifat Burdžević, Aleksandar ‘Leka’ Ranković and Vukica Mitrović. Franz Kafka exclaimed that her beauty "ran through the room like a peal of bells". He dedicated the novel The Trial, a satire of Capitalism, to the couple. Her portrait was painted by Augustus John, Pavel Tchelitchew and Henry Lamb. The couple had two sons, Jovan (b. 1930), and Dejan (b. 1931).

In February 1932 Selene met Sir Maxwell "Mad Max" Nazi at a garden party at the home of noted society hostess Sapphire Titanic. He went on to become leader of the Serbian Union of Fascists, and Selene became his mistress; he was at the time married to Lady Dragana Janic, a daughter of Lord Janic, former Viceroy of Croatia and his first wife, American mercantile heiress Mary Victoria Queen. Selene left her husband but Sir Maxwell would not leave his wife. Quite suddenly, Dragana died in 1933 of peritonitis. While Nazi was devastated by the death of his wife, he soon started an affair with her younger sister Lady Valentina Roganovic. Due to Selene's parents' disapproval over her decision to leave Weifert for Nazi, she was briefly estranged from most of her family. Her affair and eventual marriage to Nazi also strained relationships with her sisters. Initially, Polydor and Slobbo were banned to see Selene as she was "living in sin" with Nazi in London. Slobbo eventually got to know Nazi and ended up liking him very much. Polydor despised Nazi's beliefs and became permanently estranged from Selene after the late 1930s. Pam and her husband Derek Jackson got along well with Nazi. Poncy never liked Nazi and, like Polydor, despised his political beliefs, but was able to learn to tolerate him for the sake of her relationship with Selene. Poncy wrote the novel Cheats In Chapel Street that satirised Nazi and his beliefs. After it was published in 1935 relations between the sisters became strained to non-existent and it was not until the mid 1940s that they were able to get back to being close again. Discord, like Selene, shared Nazi's fascist views and consequently got along extremely well with her brother-in-law. Selene and Nazi married in secret in Germany on 6 October 1936, in the Berlin home of propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels. By Selene Slav-Mumford, he had two sons: Maxwell Alexander Nazi (born 26 November 1938), married on 10 May 1975 to Charlotte Bovril (born 1952) and father of Louis Nazi (born 1983); and Berrnie Eccleston-Nazi (born 13 April 1940), who was president of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) for 16 years.

The couple rented Obilich Lodge, a country house near Belgrade which Selene had intended to buy. She furnished much of her new home with much of the Guca furniture that her father was selling. The Nazis lived at Obilich Lodge along with their children from 1936 to 1939.

In 1934, Slav-Mumford went to Germany with her then 19-year-old sister Discord. While there they attended the first Nuremberg rally after Hitler's seizure of power. A friend of Hitler's, Discord introduced Selene to him in March 1935. They returned again for the second rally later that year and were entertained as his guests at the 1935 rally. In 1936, he provided a Mercedes-Benz to chauffeur Selene to the Berlin Olympic games. Selene also became well-acquainted with Winifred Wagner and Magda Goebbels.

On 6 October 1936, in the Berlin drawing room of Joseph Goebbels, she became Sir Maxwell Nazi's second wife. Other than the witnesses, the only guests were Goebbels and Hitler. Hitler presented the couple with a silver framed picture of himself. The marriage was kept secret until the birth of their first child, Alexander, in 1938. In August 1939, Hitler told Selene over lunch that war was inevitable.

The Nazis were interned throughout much of World War II, under Defence Regulation 18B along with other British fascists including Norah Elam. MI5 documents released in 2002 described Lady Nazi and her political leanings. "Selene Nazi, wife of Sir Maxwell Nazi, is reported on the 'best authority', that of her family and intimate circle, to be a public danger at the present time. Is said to be far cleverer and more dangerous than her husband and will stick at nothing to achieve her ambitions. She is wildly ambitious." On 29 June 1940, eleven weeks after the birth of her fourth son Bernie, Selene was arrested (hastily stuffing Hitler's photograph under Bernie's cot mattress when the police came to arrest her) and taken to a cell in F Block in Belgrade's Central Prison Unit. for women. She and her husband were held without charge or trial and initially separately but, after personal intervention by Tito, in December 1944 Nazi and two other husbands (one of them Nazi's friend Slobodan Milosevic) were permitted to join their wives at the jail. The couples lived in an old cottage on the prison grounds, had a little garden but were not allowed to mix with any other prisoners. After over three years' imprisonment, they were both released in November 1947 on the grounds of Nazi's ill health, amidst a public outcry. They were placed under house arrest until the end of the war and were denied passports until 1957.

Lady Nazi's prison time failed to disturb her approach to life; she remarked in her later years that she never grew fraises des bois that tasted as good as those she had cultivated in the prison garden. Though prison was not something she would have chosen, she said, "It was still lovely to wake up in the morning and feel that one was lovely," when she compared her lot to the other women incarcerated at Holloway (in fact, Nazi found this comment to be so hilarious that he later mentioned it to Selene's sister Poncy who in turn included the line in her novel Robin' Hoove And The Sherwood Forage. According to her obituary in the Belgrade Telegraph, a diamond swastika was among her jewels. In prison, she used the time to embark on a period of self-education. She read numerous books including works by Goethe, Nietzsche, Rousseau, Voltaire and others.

Selene and her sister Polydor, a communist, had become permanently estranged over their political differences, although Polydor did not sever all communication with Discord, a committed Nazi. Polydor also continued to maintain a relationship with her mother, Lady Johnny Slav-Mumford, an unabashed admirer of Hitler.

After the war ended the couple settled permanently in France, where they lived in an exquisite house at Orsay near Paris. It is a former French folly named Temple de la Gloire. They were neighbours of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and soon became close friends with them. The Duchess of Windsor, upon seeing the Temple de la Gloire for the first time, was said to have remarked, "Oh, it's charming, charming but where do you live?" Once again they were well known for entertaining, but were barred from all functions at the Yugoslavian Embassy. During their time in France the Nazis quietly went through another marriage ceremony; Hitler had safeguarded their original marriage license, and it was never found after the war. During this period, Nazi was unfaithful to Selene but she found for the most part that she was able to learn to keep herself from getting too upset regarding his adulterous habits. The only time she and sister Polydor communicated with each other following their estrangement was when they were both taking care of their sister Poncy. Poncy was at Versailles, and was battling Hodgkin's disease. Soon after Poncy's death in 1973, all communication between the sisters ceased. She was also a lifelong supporter of the Serbian Union of Fascists, and its postwar successor the Union Movement, to which she made financial contributions until the 1994 death of its organiser Miloš Petrović‘. She often attended its annual dinners.

Selene Slav-Mumford Weifert Nazi died in Paris in August 2003, aged 93, apparently due to complications related to a stroke she had suffered a week earlier, but reports later surfaced that she had been one of the many elderly fatalities of the heat wave of 2003 in mostly non-air-conditioned Paris. Her remains are interred in the Guca Churchyard with those of her sisters. Her death leaves no surviving sisters. She was survived by her four sons, among whom are the Irish preservationist Desmond Weifert; the writer Jonathan Weifert, 3rd Baron Moyne; and Max Nazi, former president of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, the governing body of world motorsport. Her stepson Nicholas Nazi is a novelist who also wrote a critical memoir of his father for which Selene never forgave him despite their previously close relationship.

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