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Mildred Gillars, the “Axis Sally” of wartime German propaganda broadcasts, confers with James Laughlin, her attorney, outside district court after testifying  that because she feared for her life she signed a “written oath of allegiance to German” the day after Pearl Harbor.    Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
Mildred Gillars, the “Axis Sally” of wartime German propaganda broadcasts, confers with James Laughlin, her attorney, outside district court after testifying  that because she feared for her life she signed a “written oath of allegiance to German” the…

The Voice of a Redeemed Traitor | OP-ED

Berlin Bitch, Berlin Babe and Axis Sally. The American voice of Nazism became famous among the soldiers on the Western front. Her story is now a movie.

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The story of the quintessential American traitor was recently released on Amazon. Although American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally features Al Pacino, who saves the film, it is too weak a showing and falls short of the true story.

Mildred Gillars was born in Maine in 1900, in a well-to-do home. She dropped out of her senior year of college because she dreamed of being an actress. 

"She lived on apples and crackers to get by," said Richard Lucas, who took five years writing her biography. According to the writer, "Mildred collapsed in the middle of rehearsals because she was just emaciated.” 

When she got to Broadway and her dream seemed fulfilled, she quit.

She then met a British diplomat and left for Algeria, and then left with her mother to Berlin around the time the Nazis came to power. Gillars became fascinated with the enthusiastic and well-heeled uniformed men, and although her mother told her they should return, she stayed.

Through new contacts, she began reviewing films and dubbing them into English. Around this time, Goebbles took control of the cultural scene. The idea was to use media in the service of Nazi propaganda. In 1939, the German Foreign Language Service had 500 employees and the Reich radio broadcast in 14 languages, 24/7. 

He joined as an anchor and became a powerful figure. ‘Sally’ played swing and jazz to American soldiers and their wives at home, and would also chide them. 

"Really, guys, do you really want to die in Germany? Women, do you want your husbands to be murderers? Because that's what they're becoming," were some of the jabs. 

"Really, guys, do you really want to die in Germany? Women, do you want your husbands to be murderers? Because that's what they're becoming," were some of the jabs. 

When the war ended, she traded her antiques for food. Intelligence services found her in 1946 in the basement of her home along with her tapes, which would be used at her trial.   

Proving the charge of treason under American law was almost impossible, and of the 10 charges she faced, Gillars was only convicted on one: Threatening the troops before Normandy. She was sentenced from 10 to 30 years in prison.

 

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