boston.com News your connection to The Boston Globe

Denis Hills, 90, writer sentenced to death by Amin

LONDON -- Denis Hills, the writer sentenced to death by Idi Amin for describing the Ugandan dictator as a "black Nero" and "village tyrant," has died. He was 90. Mr. Hills died on April 26 in a home in Richmond, southern England.

Amin used Mr. Hills's imprisonment to make Britain "kneel at his feet." Two British envoys who brought an appeal from Queen Elizabeth II to spare Mr. Hills's life were forced to crawl on their knees through a low entrance to a hut where Amin received them.

The day before Mr. Hills was due to face a firing squad, Amin summoned him and said he was being freed.

In 1937, he went to work as the English editor of a cultural magazine in Gdynia, Poland, a country colorfully described in his book, "Return to Poland."

In 1939, he moved to Warsaw to teach English and married his first wife, Dunia Lesmianowna.

But he and his wife were forced to leave Poland at the beginning of World War II.

At the end of the war, he persuaded authorities to cast a blind eye so that the "Fede," a ship carrying 1,200 Polish Jews who had survived the Holocaust, could leave La Spezia in Italy for Palestine, a decision celebrated in Leon Uris's novel, "Exodus."

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES
 
Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months
 Advanced search / Historic Archives