Posted On: May 2nd, 2019 | Posted By: miketrial
In a small cemetery in Lockbourne, Ohio, there is an unmarked grave, the last resting place of Mildred Gillars.
Her story (well told in a book titled “Axis Sally” by Richard Lucas) is of a rootless childhood, a failed acting career in New York, and a rise to infamy as Axis Sally in Nazi Germany. She was born in Maine, but grew up in Ohio where her dysfunctional family eventually settled. Mildred attended Ohio Wesleyan University, but left for New York in her senior year to try to become an actress.
But her acting career never took off. She visited Europe several times, liked it, and stayed there as WWII began, becoming involved with a man working for Reichsradio in Berlin. She hoped they would marry, but he died in 1944 and by then it was too late for her to leave Nazi Germany. She was by then fluent in German, and was rather successful doing American-accented English language propaganda broadcasts, for what was at the time, a generous salary. For a time, she was better paid, and listened to by a wider audience, than she ever would have been in New York.
I do not think she was purely an opportunist, she was certainly not a rabid Nazi, nor was she a helpless victim trapped in a dictatorship from which she could not escape. She stayed in Germany voluntarily despite US State Department notices advising all American citizens to leave Germany. In part, I think, it was because she had nothing to come back to in the USA. So why did she become a part of Reichsradio’s propaganda machine? I believe it was just a series of decisions that step-by-step lead her in the wrong direction.