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The FReeper Foxhole Profiles Axis Sally - August 21st, 2004
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Posted on 08/20/2004 11:42:23 PM PDT by snippy_about_it


Keep our Troops forever in Your care

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Bless those who mourn the lost.

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for all those serving their country at this time.

...................................................................................... ...........................................

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American-Born Axis Sally

WWII Propaganda Broadcasts

American-born Axis Sally made propaganda broadcasts for Radio Berlin in Hitler's Germany, and paid the price for treason after the war.

by Dale P. Harper

She was named Mildred Elizabeth Sisk when she was born in Portland, Maine, on November 29, 1900. Her parents, Vincent Sisk and Mae Hewitson Sisk, were divorced in 1907, and a few years later Mildred's mother married a dentist, Dr. Robert Bruce Gillars. From that time on the child was known as Mildred Gillars.

The family moved around a great deal during her early years, but Mildred Gillars eventually graduated from high school in Conneaut, Ohio, in 1917. Then it was on to Ohio Wesleyan University in the small town of Delaware, where, hoping to pursue a stage career, she majored in dramatic arts. Gillars did well in speech, languages and dramatics but did not graduate because of her failure to meet all university requirements and standards.

According to her half sister, Gillars worked at a variety of jobs after leaving college--clerk, salesgirl, cashier and waitress--all to further her ambition to become an actress. In 1929 she went to Europe with her mother and spent six months studying in France before returning to the United States.

Eventually Gillars went to New York, where she worked in stock companies, musical comedies and vaudeville, but never made enough impact to gain any real recognition. In 1933 she returned to Europe and worked in France as a governess and salesgirl. She moved to Germany in 1935 and became an English instructor at the Berlitz School of Languages in Berlin. English teachers were paid less than Russian instructors--a possible reason for her decision to accept employment by Radio Berlin as an announcer and actress. This was a job much more to her liking, and she stayed with it until the defeat of Nazi Germany in May 1945.

Gillars' propaganda program was known as "Home Sweet Home" and usually aired sometime between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. daily. Although she referred to herself as "Midge at the mike," GIs dubbed her Axis Sally. Her broadcasts were heard all over Europe, the Mediterranean, North Africa and the United States from December 11, 1941, through May 6, 1945. Although most of her programs were broadcast from Berlin, some were aired from Chartres and Paris in France and from Hilversum in the Netherlands.

Once the war was over, her broadcasts would come back to haunt her. At a listening post operated by the Federal Communications Commission in Silver Hill, Md., all her programs had been monitored and recorded and would provide the prosecution with damaging evidence at her trial. The prosecution charged that her broadcasts were sugarcoated propaganda pills aimed at convincing U.S. soldiers that they were fighting on the wrong side.

Most GIs agreed that Gillars had a sultry, sexy voice that came over the radio loud and clear. Like her counterpart in the Pacific, Tokyo Rose, she liked to tease and taunt the soldiers about their wives and sweethearts back in the States. "Hi fellows," she would say. "I'm afraid you're yearning plenty for someone else. But I just wonder if she isn't running around with the 4-Fs way back home."

She would get the names, serial numbers and hometowns of captured and wounded GIs and voice concern about what would happen to them, in broadcasts that could be heard in the United States. "Well I suppose he'll get along all right," she would say. "The doctors don't seem...I don't know... only time will tell, you see." At sign-off time she would tease her listeners some more, telling them, "I've got a heavy date waiting for me."

Perhaps Sally's most famous broadcast, and the one that would eventually get her convicted of treason, was a play titled Vision of Invasion that went out over the airwaves on May 11, 1944. It was beamed to American troops in England awaiting the D-Day invasion of Normandy, as well as to the home folks in America. Gillars played the role of an American mother who dreamed that her soldier son, a member of the invasion forces, died aboard a burning ship in the attempt to cross the English Channel.

The play had a realistic quality to it, sound effects simulating the moans and cries of the wounded as they were raked with gunfire from the beaches. Over the battle action sound effects, an announcer's voice intoned, "The D of D-Day stands for doom...disaster...death...defeat...Dunkerque or Dieppe." Adelbert Houben, a high official of the German Broadcasting Service, would testify at Axis Sally's trial that her broadcast was intended to prevent the invasion by frightening the Americans with grisly forecasts of staggering casualties.

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KEYWORDS: axissally; freeperfoxhole; germany; history; mildredgillars; mildredsisk; propagana; radioberlin; samsdayoff; traitor; veterans; wwii
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After the War

After the defeat of Germany, Gillars was not immediately apprehended but blended into the throngs of displaced persons in occupied Germany seeking assistance from the Western Allies in obtaining food, shelter, medical treatment, location of relatives and friends, and possible employment. She spent three weeks in an American hospital in 1946, then was taken to an internment camp in Wansel, Germany.

About Christmastime 1946, when she was granted amnesty and released, she obtained a pass to live in the French Zone of Berlin. Later, when she traveled to Frankfurt to get her pass renewed, she was arrested by the Army and kept there for more than a year. At the end of that detention she was flown to the United States and incarcerated in the Washington, D.C., District Jail on August 21, 1948. She was held there without bond.

Later she was charged with 10 counts of treason (eventually reduced to eight to speed up the trial) by a federal grand jury. Her trial began on January 25, 1949, in the district court of the nation's capital, with Judge Edward M. Curran presiding. The chief prosecutor was John M. Kelley, Jr., and Gillars' attorney was James J. Laughlin.

Prosecutor Kelley pressed home some important points right from the start. First was the fact that after being hired by Radio Berlin she had signed an oath of allegiance to Hitler's Germany. He also put witnesses on the stand who testified that Gillars had posed as a worker for the International Red Cross and persuaded captured American soldiers to record messages to their families and relatives in order to garner a large listening audience in the United States. By the time she finished weaving propaganda into the broadcasts, the POWs' messages to their loved ones were not exactly messages of comfort.

Gilbert Lee Hansford of Cincinnati, a veteran of the 29th Infantry Division who lost a leg in the Normandy invasion, said Gillars visited him in a Paris hospital in August 1944. "She walked up with two German officers," Hansford said, and she stated that she was working with the International Red Cross. She then told a group of wounded captives, "Hello boys, I'm here to make recordings so your folks will know you are still alive."

Hansford said he and others talked into a microphone, recording messages for broadcast to their families at home. A courtroom playback of the messages as picked up by the American monitoring stations showed that Nazi propaganda had been inserted between the GIs' messages. One insertion by Gillars said, "It's a disgrace to the American public that they don't wake to the fact of what Franklin D. Roosevelt is doing to the Gentiles of your country and my country."

On February 10, 1949, an American paratrooper from New York, 36-year-old Michael Evanick, told the jury he was captured on D-Day, June 6, 1944, after parachuting behind German lines in Normandy. Pointing his finger, he identified Gillars as the woman who interviewed him in a German prisoner-of-war camp near Paris on July 15, 1944.

"I'd been listening to her broadcasts through Africa, Sicily, and Italy, and I told her I recognized her voice," Evanick remembered. "She said, 'I guess you know me as Axis Sally,' and I told her we had a name for her." The witness said Gillars gave him a drink of cognac and a cigarette and told him to make himself comfortable in a chair. After a few drinks, he said, she sent for a microphone and began the interview, asking him if he did not feel good to be out of the fighting.

"No ma'am," Evanick said he replied. "I feel 100 percent better in the front lines where I get enough to eat." At that, he said, Gillars angrily knocked the microphone over, but regained her composure and offered him another drink.

On February 19, Eugene McCarthy, a 25-year-old ex-GI from Chicago, was called to answer a single question. Defense attorney Laughlin asked him if Gillars had posed as a Red Cross worker when she came to make recorded interviews with American POWs at Stalag 2-B in Germany. The soldier stated that she did not. Then in a dramatic outburst, shouting over the defense counsel's angry protest, the witness told the jury: "She threatened us as she left--that American citizen, that woman right there. She told us we were the most ungrateful Americans she had ever met and that we would regret this."

Following McCarthy to the witness stand were veterans John T. Lynskey of Pittsburgh and Paul G. Kestel of Detroit. Both testified that when Gillars visited them in a Paris hospital she identified herself as a Red Cross worker.

Defense counsel Laughlin argued that treason must be something more than the spoken word: "Things have come to a pretty pass if a person cannot make an anti-Semitic speech without being charged with treason. Being against President Roosevelt could not be treason. There are two schools of thought about President Roosevelt. One holds he was a patriot and martyr. The other holds that he was the greatest rogue in all history, the greatest fraud, and the greatest impostor that ever lived."

Laughlin also tried to point out to the court the great influence that Max Otto Koischwitz had on Gillars. Koischwitz was a former professor at Hunter College in New York who became romantically involved with Gillars when she was one of his students. She had attended Hunter briefly while trying to pursue a stage career before finally abandoning the effort and going back to Europe in 1933. German-born Koischwitz eventually returned to Germany, renounced his U.S. citizenship, and became an official in the Nazi radio service in charge of propaganda broadcasts. He thus was Mildred's superior.

In her trips to the witness stand, Gillars was usually tearful. She said Koischwitz's Svengali-like influence over her had led her to make broadcasts for Hitler. She and the professor had lived together in Berlin, she said, and she burst into tears when informed that he had died.

In his final summation before the jury, prosecutor Kelley told them Gillars was a traitor who broadcast rotten propaganda for wartime Germany and got a sadistic joy out of it, especially those broadcasts in which she described in harrowing detail the agonies of wounded American soldiers before they died. "She sold out to them," he said. "She thought she was on the winning side, and all she cared about was her own selfish fame."

The trial ended on March 8, 1949, after six hectic weeks. The next day Judge Curran put the case in the hands of the jury of seven men and five women. After deliberating for hours, they were unable to reach a verdict and were sequestered in a hotel for the night. They met again the next morning, and after 17 hours o10 f further deliberation they acquitted her of seven of the eight counts pressed by the government in its original 10-count indictment. However, they found her guilty on count No. 10, involving the Nazi broadcast of the play Vision of Invasion.

On Saturday, March 26, Judge Curran pronounced sentence: 10 to 30 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, eligible for parole after 10 years. Mildred Gillars, alias Axis Sally, was then transported to the Federal Women's Reformatory in Alderson, W.Va. When she became eligible for parole in 1959, she waived the right, apparently preferring prison to ridicule as a traitor on the outside. Two years later, when she applied for parole, it was granted. At 6:25 a.m. on June 10, 1961, she walked out the gate of Alderson prison a free woman.

Gillars taught for a while in a Roman Catholic school for girls in Columbus, Ohio, and then returned to her old college, Ohio Wesleyan. She received a bachelor's degree in speech in 1973. Gillars died June 25, 1988, at the age of 87.

Today's Educational Sources and suggestions for further reading:
1 posted on 08/20/2004 11:42:24 PM PDT by snippy_about_it
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To: All

"En route to the target for most missions we were entertained by Axis Sally broadcasting from Berlin. She had a very sexy voice and an excellent inventory of popular American music which was alternated with her intelligence reports. "Good morning Yankees. This is Gerry's Front calling with the tunes that you like to hear and a warm welcome from radio Berlin. I note that the 461st is en route this morning to Linz where you will receive a warm welcome.

By the way, Sgt. Robert Smith, you remember Bill Jones, the guy with the flashy convertible who always had an eye for your wife Annabelle. Well , they have been seen together frequently over the past few months and last week he moved in with her. Let's take a break here and listen to some of Glen Miller." It was not a morale builder for the GIs even when she was wrong. We could only listen for a short time as we went on radio silence when approaching occupied territory." - Tom

Listen to Axis Sally

2 posted on 08/20/2004 11:44:24 PM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: All

We were across the Saar River in Dellingen, where the Battle of the Bulge started. That was where Axis Sally told us about the Bulge. The Germans had a loud speaker back in the woods and she was talking on that.

They played a few American records first. I don't remember everything she said. She said, "Your wives and girlfriends are probably home in a nice warm building, dancing with some other men. You're over here in the cold." It was cold and it was snowing.

She said, "There was a big push on up North; you might as well give up. The war's over, the German army captured 50,000 Americans. They are going all the way to Paris." We didn't believe her.

We pulled back across the Saar River, then made a day and night march to Saeul, Luxembourg, where we fought until the Bulge was eliminated. We were attached to the 90th Infantry Division.

Excerpt from Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, edited by Robert Van Houten.

Axis Sally broadcast "Berlin Calling"

3 posted on 08/20/2004 11:46:47 PM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: snippy_about_it

Saturday Bump for the Foxhole


alfa6 ;>}

4 posted on 08/20/2004 11:47:12 PM PDT by alfa6 (50 folders down, 270+ to go)
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To: Diva Betsy Ross; Americanwolf; CarolinaScout; Tax-chick; Don W; Poundstone; Wumpus Hunter; ...

"FALL IN" to the FReeper Foxhole!

Good Saturday Morning Everyone

If you would like to be added to our ping list, let us know.
If you'd like to drop us a note you can write to:

The Foxhole
19093 S. Beavercreek Rd. #188
Oregon City, OR 97045

5 posted on 08/20/2004 11:48:27 PM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: alfa6

Hey early bird. Got in before I even pinged!

6 posted on 08/20/2004 11:48:53 PM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: alfa6

Good Almost Morning alfa6.

7 posted on 08/20/2004 11:49:07 PM PDT by SAMWolf (Married men live longer than single men, but married men are a lot more willing to go..)
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To: All
John Kerry told the world we were war criminals who raped, tortured and murdered in Vietnam. Now, thirty-three years later, we will tell America the truth.

Join us at the rally we call:

What: A peaceful remembrance of those with whom we served in Vietnam - those who lived and those who died.
We will tell the story of their virtues and how that contrasts with the lies told by John Kerry.

When: Sunday, Sept. 12, 2004 @ 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM EDT

Where: The West Front of the U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, DC

All Vietnam veterans and their families and supporters are asked to attend. Other veterans are invited as honored guests. This will be a peaceful event--no shouting or contact with others with different opinions. We fought for their rights then, and we respect their rights now. This is NOT a Republican or a pro-Bush rally. Democrats, Republicans and independents alike are warmly invited.

Our gathering is to remember those with whom we served, thereby giving the lie to John Kerry's smear against a generation of fine young men. B.G. "Jug" Burkett, author of "Stolen Valor," will be one of our speakers. Jug has debunked countless impostors who falsely claimed to be Vietnam veterans or who falsely claimed awards for heroism. Jug recommends that we refrain from dragging fatigues out of mothballs. Dress like America, like you do every day. Dress code: business casual, nice slacks, and shirt and shoes. No uniform remnants, please. Unit hats OK.

Selected members will wear badges identifying them as authorized to speak to the media about our event. Others who speak to the media will speak only for themselves.

The program will be controlled in an attempt to stay on-message. Speakers are encouraged not to engage in speculative criticism of John Kerry but (1) to stick to known and undisputed facts about John Kerry’s lies while (2) reminding America of the true honor and courage of our brothers in battle in Vietnam.

Send this announcement to 10 or more of your brothers! Bring them by car, bus, train or plane! Make this event one of pride in America, an event you would be proud to have your mother or your children attend.


Veterans for Constitution Restoration is a non-profit, non-partisan educational and grassroots activist organization.

Actively seeking volunteers to provide this valuable service to Veterans and their families.

Thanks to quietolong for providing this link.


The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul

Click on Hagar for
"The FReeper Foxhole Compiled List of Daily Threads"

8 posted on 08/20/2004 11:49:27 PM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: snippy_about_it
Axis Sally and Tokyo Rose
By Jim Tuck

In the annals of radio-treason, the names Axis Sally and Tokyo Rose have the same symbiotic ring as “ham ’n eggs” or “Mutt and Jeff.” In reality, there was a world of difference between the two. One was an authentic (and very nasty) traitor while the other was a victim who acted under coercion. Of interest is that neither woman ever used the names by which they became infamous; the appellations were the inventions of GIs who listened to their broadcasts. “Axis Sally” billed herself as “Midge at the Mike” and “Tokyo Rose” as “Orphan Annie.”

Axis Sally was born in 1900 in Portland, Maine as Mildred Elizabeth Sisk. Her parents divorced and she took the surname of her stepfather, a dentist named Robert Gillars. After graduating from Hunter College in New York, she combined the occupations of salesgirl, waitress, clerk, cashier and bit player in musical comedies. She took trips to Europe in 1929 and 1933. Unable to make it in the theater, she moved to Germany in 1935, working as an instructor at Berlitz and then at Radio Berlin. Her wartime broadcasts began on December 11, 1941 and lasted until May 6, 1945.

Gillars’s broadcasts were particularly distinguished for their cruelty. She was somehow able to obtain specific identities and would torment GI Joe Jones, shivering in a foxhole, about how his girl back home was having a high old time with his school classmate, Charlie Smith, who had succeeded in avoiding military service. Captured after the war, it came out at her trial that she had attempted to worm information out of captured GIs by posing as a Red Cross representative. Two other ex-POWS testified that she threatened them when they scoffed at her attempt to feed them Nazi propaganda. Convicted of treason, Gillars received a 10-30 year sentence, of which she served 13.

By contrast, we have the poignant story of a Japanese-American woman named Iva Toguri. She was born in Los Angeles in 1916, ironically on the 4th of July. Educated at UCLA, she had the misfortune to be trapped in Japan by war’s outbreak when she was visiting a sick aunt. Compelled to work as a typist at Radio Tokyo, she was one of twenty women chosen to do the “Tokyo Rose” broadcasts. She had been recommended by an Australian POW, Major Charles Cousens, a Sydney celebrity in civilian life. Cousens, in a subtle effort to sabotage the broadcasts, chose Iva deliberately because she had neither broadcast experience nor a compelling voice. Not arrested till 1949, Toguri was convicted on the testimony of two Japanese-Americans, who were later found to have lied under oath. Sentenced to ten years, she served six. In later years, several writers and investigative reporters put forth the view that Toguri’s conviction was a miscarriage of justice. In 1977 she was granted a full pardon by President Gerald Ford.

9 posted on 08/20/2004 11:50:21 PM PDT by SAMWolf (Married men live longer than single men, but married men are a lot more willing to go..)
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf

RE #6 Sneaky Little devil ain't I

BTW, Finished the WWI pictures tonight and am about 2/3rds thru WWII pics, then the fun begins hehehe


alfa6 ;>}

10 posted on 08/20/2004 11:52:52 PM PDT by alfa6 (60 folders down, 270+ to go)
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To: snippy_about_it
Kerry's group VVAW members made propaganda tapes for Radio Hanoi
11 posted on 08/20/2004 11:53:31 PM PDT by Wampus SC
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To: Wampus SC
I just knew Freepers would see the resemblance. Thanks for the link.
12 posted on 08/20/2004 11:55:37 PM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: alfa6
2/3rds thru WWII pics


13 posted on 08/20/2004 11:55:42 PM PDT by SAMWolf (Married men live longer than single men, but married men are a lot more willing to go..)
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To: SAMWolf

I can't stay awake any longer.

Good night Sam.

14 posted on 08/20/2004 11:58:10 PM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: SAMWolf

How were the teaser pics, eh?


alfa6 ;>}

15 posted on 08/20/2004 11:58:31 PM PDT by alfa6 (60 folders down, 270+ to go)
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To: alfa6

Hungry for more, I may never have to search the web for plane pics again.

16 posted on 08/20/2004 11:59:22 PM PDT by SAMWolf (Married men live longer than single men, but married men are a lot more willing to go..)
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To: SAMWolf

I do not know that I would go that far, but you could probably cut them down quite a bit :-)

Gotta call it a night

See ya Tomorrow


alfa6 ;>}

17 posted on 08/21/2004 12:07:53 AM PDT by alfa6 (60 folders down, 270+ to go)
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; bentfeather; Darksheare; Johnny Gage; Light Speed; Samwise; ...
Good morning everyone!

To all our military men and women, past and present, and to our allies who stand with us,

18 posted on 08/21/2004 12:23:19 AM PDT by radu (May God watch over our troops and keep them safe)
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To: snippy_about_it

Good morning, Snippy and everyone at the Freeper Foxhole.

19 posted on 08/21/2004 3:01:03 AM PDT by E.G.C.
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To: snippy_about_it
Is is just me, or does Mildred look a lot like Lily Tomlin?

Oh wait, reverse that...

20 posted on 08/21/2004 3:50:19 AM PDT by snopercod ("If you wait, all that happens is that you get older." -- Mario Andretti)
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