On this day: Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses

The 24th of April, 1933 is considered to be the day Nazi Germany began their persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as it is the date the Bible Student headquarters in Magdeburg were seized by police. This came only a few months after Adolf Hitler came to power.

If Jehovah’s Witnesses were willing to renounce their religion they were promised freedom from persecution. Below is a Nazi renouncement document.

If Jehovah's Witnesses were willing to renounce their religion they were promised freedom from persecution. Nazi renouncement document.

From 1935 onwards, many people who kept their religion were sent to concentration camps.

The persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses continues today, with Russia outlawing the religion only days ago.

On this day: the premiere of an anti-Nazi film

naztyspy_lobbyyou-nazty-spy-the-first-american-film-made-with-an-anti-nazi-sentiment-premiered-on-the-19th-of-january-1940

You Nazty Spy!, the first Hollywood film made with an anti-Nazi sentiment, premiered on the 19th of January, 1940.

Featuring The Three Stooges, it satirised Nazi Germany at a time when Americans had still not entered the Second World War, and the country remained neutral.

Some American politicians, such as Burton Wheeler and Gerald Nye, were offended by the anti-Nazi sentiment in the production, seeing it as war propaganda.

Of course, their attitudes changed completely twenty-three months later, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

On this day: the birth of “Axis Sally”

mildred-gillars-american-nazi-collaborator-axis-sally-propaganda

American woman Mildred Gillars, nicknamed “Axis Sally” for the prominent role she played broadcasting Nazi propaganda during World War Two, was born on the 29th of November, 1900.

Born in Maine, but moving to Ohio as a child, Gillars moved to Germany to study in 1934, and then later obtained work as an English teacher in Berlin.

mildred-gillars-axis-sally-as-a-young-actress-in-the-1920s-nazi-collaborator-american-history-propaganda

As a young actress in America in the 1920s. X

By 1940, she was working as an announcer for Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft: German State Radio.

Along with an Italian-American woman by the name of Rita Zucca, who performed the same work for Mussolini in Fascist Italy, she was dubbed “Axis Sally” for her anti-American propaganda that was broadcast to US troops once her home country joined the war.

Gillars’ broadcasts told stories of wives and sweethearts at home who cheated with other men while the troops were away, and spread defeatist propaganda to try and destroy American morale.

At the end of the war “Wanted” posters for Gillars were put up around Berlin. Once she was found and arrested in 1946 she was returned to the United States, where she was put on trial for treason.

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The New York Times announces that Mildred Gillars is to stand trial for treason. X

She was eventually convicted of treason for a broadcast titled Vision Of Invasion, and spent twelve years in prison before being released on parole.

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The FBI escorts Gillars to her trial in 1949. X

Gillars went on to live in a convent and work as a schoolteacher, before dying of cancer in 1988.

Her fellow “Sally”, Rita Zucca, spent nine months in an Italian prison, and – having given up her American citizenship – was barred from the United States.

Day of Remembrance

The 23rd of August is the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism.

The image below depicts Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia attacking Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus and Georgia.

August 23 - European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism Ukraine Lithuania Belarus Georgia

On this day: worldwide celebrations for Hitler

On the 20th of April, 1939, Germans both in Germany and around the world held celebrations for Adolf Hitler’s fiftieth birthday.

Below is a German club in Adelaide, Australia decorated for the event:

Hitler's_50th_birthday_in_AustraliaAdolf Hitler's 50th birthday party in Australia. Taken in a German Club, Adelaide. 20th April 1939.

And Hitler in Berlin being congratulated by his government:

Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-1988-0202-503,_Hitlers_50__GeburtstagThe government of Nazi Germany congratulating Hitler at the Reichskanzlei in Berlin, 20th April 1939.

 

On this day: Fascist Italy Banned Foreign Words

Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini with Adolf Hitler Hitlermusso2_edit

Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini with Adolf Hitler

On the 23rd of July, 1929, Italy’s Fascist government banned foreign words.

This was part of a larger act of the “Italianisation” of minorities in Italy and surrounding territories, as well as the annexation of nearby countries.

Naturally, this policy included banning the teaching of minority languages, even for people who were not ethnic Italians.