* Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
"Axis Sally" broadcast Nazi propaganda during World War II in an effort to demoralize American troops. "Hello, gang," she would begin. "Throw down those little old guns and toddle off home. There's no getting the Germans down." The voice belonged to Mildred Gillars, an American who claimed she was coerced into making the broadcasts from Germany. Gillars was convicted of treason and served 12 years in federal prison. She was released in 1961 and taught music at a kindergarten. An excerpt from The Post of March 11, 1949:
By Howard L. Dutkin
Miss Mildred E. Gillars, 48, the "Axis Sally" of the Nazi radio, was found guilty of treason by a District Court jury yesterday at 4:28 p.m. -- 28 hours and 25 minutes after it had received the case.
The panel found the silver-haired defendant guilty of only one of the eight overt acts of treason charged against her.
Maximum penalty for the crime -- the only one defined in the Constitution -- is death, while the minimum is five years imprisonment and $10,000 fine.
The defendant, garbed in black, took the verdict standing up -- figuratively as well as literally.
She paled momentarily as Jury Foreman Henry G. Davis Jr. ... announced the findings, but she never lost her taut, inscrutable bearing. ...
The count in the indictment upon which Miss Mildred E. Gillars was found guilty of treason was based on a German radio broadcast entitled "Vision of Invasion."
This radio play was broadcast the night of May 11, 1944, 25 days before D-Day. In it Miss Gillars, whose nickname was "Axis Sally," spoke in the role of an American housewife named Evelyn.
Evelyn and Elmer, her husband, were represented as talking in their American home while their son Allan was aboard an invasion boat on D-Day.
Elmer was trying to overcome the gloomy forebodings of Evelyn, who said: "But everybody says the invasion is suicide. The simplest person knows that. Between 70 and 90 percent of the boys will be killed or crippled for the rest of their lives."
At another point Evelyn said to Elmer: "The whole world, waiting and watching for hundreds of thousands of young men to be slaughtered on the beaches of Europe and you -- you laugh!" ...
The broadcast closed with the background sound of church bells and Evelyn asking: "Why are those church bells ringing?" And another woman responding, "The dead bells of Europe's bombed cathedrals are tolling the death knell of America's youth."
The jury listened to a play-back recording of "Vision Of Invasion" as well as 21 other recordings of broadcasts in which Miss Gillars participated. ...
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