Axis Sally Wiki
Axis Sally Biography
Who was Axis Sally?
Axis Sally, whose original name is Mildred Gillars, was the first woman in American history to be convicted of treason by the United States and was sentenced to between 10 and 30 years in prison. She was a nickname given to two radio personalities who were used by Nazi Germany to spread Axis propaganda during WWII. It is her story that is centered in the movie “American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally.”
How old was Axis Sally?
Axis Sally was 87 years old at the time of her death.
Sally Axis early life
Mildred’s early life was nothing special, considering what was to come.
She harbored dreams of becoming an actress, which she tried to finance with various low-paying jobs. However, her dreams as an actress never fully took off and she left the United States for Algiers, where she found work as a dressmaker’s assistant. From Algiers, she then she moved to Dresden, Germany, to study music.
It was there that Gillars began working as a broadcaster with Reichs Rundfunk Gesellschaft (RRG), the German state radio.
Axis Sally’s Husband
She was engaged to Paul Karlson, a German citizen, who said that he would never marry her if he returned to the United States. This is what apparently led Gillars to stay in Germany, despite the fact that in 1941 the US State Department advised US citizens to leave Germany and German-controlled territories.
Soon after, Gillars’ fiancé Karlson was killed in action when he was sent to aid the German war effort.
The Axis Sally Trial
While Gillars’ broadcasts were initially apolitical, this changed in 1942 when Gillars participated in a new show called “Home Sweet Home.”
“Home Sweet Home” was aimed at making American forces in Europe feel demoralized and strange, and the main theme of the broadcasts was the infidelity of the wives and boyfriends that the troops had left in the United States. Just before the Allied invasion of Normandy in 1944, Gillars made her most infamous broadcast of her, a demoralizing tale of the horrors that await any Allied soldier reckless enough to invade occupied Europe.
In the broadcast, in a radio play called “Vision of Invasion,” she plays an Ohio mother who dreams of the gruesome death of her son in the English Channel during an attempted invasion of occupied Europe. While Gillars was known by many names among the GI audience, including “Bitch of Berlin,” “Berlin Babe,” and “Olga,” the nickname “Axis Sally” became the most popular. The nickname came about when Gillars described herself on air as the Irish type, a real Sally.
However, Gillars wasn’t the only one to go by the name “Axis Sally.” In 1943, an Italian-American Rita Zucca also began broadcasting to American forces from Rome, using the name Sally. The two were often confused with each other, many despite being the same person despite the fact that Gillars reportedly hated Zucca. Gillars remained in Berlin until the end of the war and made the last broadcast of it just two days before the Nazi surrender.
American Traitor: The Axis Sally Trial
In 1946, an American counterintelligence agent spotted Gillars in Berlin. She was returned to the United States, charged with 10 counts of treason and convicted of one of them, that of broadcasting “Vision of Invasion.” Her defense claimed that her broadcasts contained unpopular views but did not constitute treasonous conduct. Gillars was sentenced to prison for 10 to 30 years and was paroled after 12 years in 1961.
Axis Sally’s cause of death
Gillars who converted to Catholicism in prison went to live in the Convent of Our Lady of Bethlehem in Columbus, Ohio.
She taught German, French, and music at St Joseph Academy, Columbus. She died of colon cancer in 1988.