Posts Tagged ‘women in World War II’

Hunter College’s infamous “Axis Sally”

September 17, 2009

Small-town girl Mildred Gillars came to New York City to make it as an actress. But she wound up a household name for an entirely different line of work: Nazi radio propagandist. 

MildredgillarsBorn in 1900, she moved to the city in the 1920s, earning small parts in vaudeville shows and musical comedies. 

At some point she enrolled in Hunter College, then a single-sex school. There, the story goes, she began an affair with a professor-turned-Nazi who she followed to Berlin in the 1930s.

After World War II broke out in 1941, he convinced her to broadcast a regular show for Radio Berlin. Each broadcast attempted to demoralize U.S. soldiers stationed in Europe by implying that their families and government didn’t care about them.

Mildred was one of several “Axis Sallys,” the name given to women who spread propaganda for Germany, Italy, or Japan. Another Axis Sally was the daughter of midtown restauranteur Louis Zucca.

Once the war ended, Mildred was captured and brought back to the states for trial in 1948. Convicted of treason, she lived behind bars in West Virginia until being paroled in 1961. She died, with little fanfare, at 87.