Axis Sally was a radio broadcaster who worked for the Nazis during the Second World War. As an American citizen, she used her familiar accent and knowledge of American music and culture to attempt to demoralize American GIs serving in Europe, reading from prepared scripts generated by Nazi propagandists. Numerous broadcasts from Axis Sally can be heard on archival websites, for those who are interested in getting a taste of what her broadcasts were like.
While we know her as Axis Sally, this woman's name was actually Mildred Gillars, and she was born Mildred Sisk in the American state of Maine in 1900. Gillars studied music, and was interested in becoming an actress. In the mid-1930s, she relocated to Europe, ultimately ending up in Berlin, where she studied music and taught English. When Radio Berlin offered Gillars a job, she accepted, working as a broadcaster until the fall of Berlin in 1945.
While broadcasting, Gillars referred to herself as “Midge at the Mic.” The nickname “Axis Sally” was bestowed upon her by American troops, many of whom resented Gillars for working for the Nazis while her fellow Americans were trying to fight them. Axis Sally loved including information about missing, wounded, and captured soldiers in her broadcasts, often teasing listeners with misleading and disheartening information. She was also very fond of making suggestive comments about the loyalties of wives and girlfriends back home, suggesting that while GIs were fighting the war in Europe, their loved ones were cavorting about with 4-Fs, people who had not passed the physical tests necessary for enlistment.
The most infamous broadcast made by Axis Sally occurred shortly before D-Day, when she recorded the “Vision of Invasion,” strongly suggesting that any land invasion of Europe would fail to be successful, and playing with the “D” in D-Day with an alliterative rhyme about how it stood for “doom, disaster, death, defeat” and so forth. Fortunately for most of Europe, Allied troops didn't heed her warnings, and the invasion of Normandy ultimately turned out to be a major success of the Allied efforts in Second World War.
In 1948, Axis Sally was deported back to the United States, where she faced a trial for treason. Her lawyers tried to argue that since she hadn't written her own broadcasts, she hadn't colluded fully with the Nazis. They also argued that she had been coerced into making her famous broadcasts, leading the jury to convict her on only one of the 10 counts she faced. She remained imprisoned until 1961, and after her release, she became a music teacher in Ohio.
Axis Sally died in 1988.