On this day: the invasion of Albania

Italy’s rapidly successful invasion of Albania, run by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, began on the 7th of April, 1939. The Albanian king, Zog I, was forced into exile, and the entire operation was complete only five days later, on the 12th.
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Albania was made part of the Italian Empire, with its sea ports being considered important to the regime.
Italian_army_2Italian invasion of Albania 7th April 1939 Fascist Italy Italian Empire

On this day: the birth of a British Olympian

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Walter Tysall X

British Olympic gymnast Walter Tysall was born in Birmingham on the 3rd of April, 1880.

At the age of twenty-eight Tysall competed in the individual all around competition at the 1908 London Olympic Games. He won the silver medal, with Italian Alberto Braglia winning gold and French gymnast Louis Ségura taking bronze.

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Italian gold medallist Alberto Braglia

Though the British women’s gymnasts would go on to reach the Olympic podium a few years later, Tysall’s silver was the only medal won by a British male gymnast until 2008.

Tysall died in Ashton-on-Ribble in 1955.

On this day: a dictator and his pet

Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini photographed with his pet lion cub, Ras on the 16th of February, 1924. He would run Italy for another twenty-one years before being captured and executed alongside his mistress Clara Petacci. His wife was elsewhere at the time.

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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.