On this day: the last execution in Australia

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On the 3rd of February, 1967, Ronald Joseph Ryan became the last criminal to be executed in Australia.

Convicted of shooting and killing warder George Hodson two years earlier while escaping from Pentridge Prison in the state of Victoria, Ryan was hanged at eight in the morning.

He was forty-one at the time.

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Ronald Ryan

To his death Ryan maintained he was innocent of the murder, though he had an extensive criminal history that continued after his escape from the prison. His execution led to widespread protests and the abolition of the death penalty in the nation.

On this day: a funeral procession for an English entrepreneur

William Whiteley, Yorkshire-born entrepreneur and founder of Whiteleys department store in London, was murdered on the 24th of January, 1907.

His killer was a young man who claimed to be his illegitimate son. The man shot Whiteley dead in his shop.

Whiteley’s will left £1 000 000, which is the equivalent of about £90 000 000 today.

The funeral procession is seen here on the 30th of January, making its way through Ladbroke Grove.

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On this day: a Ku Klux Klan conviction in Alabama

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Murder victim Viola Liuzzo.

On the 3rd of December, 1965 a jury in the US southern state of Alabama convicted three Ku Klux Klan members in relation to the murder of white woman Viola Liuzzo.

A fourth man, who had been part of the crime but who worked for the FBI, was not convicted as he testified against the others.

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Liuzzo was helping as a driver for civil rights activists at the time of her murder. She was driving a car and escorting a black man, Leroy Moton, when the Klan members shot her through the window.

Moton was unhurt in the attack, which took place on the 25th of March.

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Immediately after the murder, authorities tried to cover up the facts, and the FBI attempted to destroy Liuzzo’s character in order to distract from one of their own being involved in the crime.

At the time of Liuzzo’s death she was thirty-nine years old, married, and the mother of five.

On this day: the birth of “Axis Sally”

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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.

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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.

On this day: the Jolimont Centre siege

js-1On the 29th of November, 1993 a man by the name of Felipe Ruizdiaz went on a rampage in Canberra, Australia’s capital city. Ruizdiaz

On the 29th of November, 1993 a man by the name of Felipe Ruizdiaz went on a rampage in Canberra, Australia’s capital city. Ruizdiaz, 47, shot the manager at Dickson Swimming Pool before driving his ute, filled with gas canisters and petrol, to the Jolimont Centre in Canberra’s city centre.

Jolimont_Centre_siege_1993In what was believed to be a revenge attack on his estranged wife

In what was believed to be a revenge attack on his estranged wife, he drove into the entrance of the multi-storey building and began to throw petrol bombs before shooting at emergency service members who responded to the incident.

Ruizdiaz eventually shot and killed himself.

js-2On the 29th of November, 1993 a man by the name of Felipe Ruizdiaz went on a rampage in Canberra, Australia’s capital city. Ruizdiaz

A radio station located in the building continued to broadcast throughout the attack.