On this day: a train to Auschwitz

This photograph, dated the 14th of June, 1940, is of mainly political prisoners, as well as both Catholics and Jews, being loaded onto a train in Tarnów, Poland. They were being sent to the Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz I.

The first extermination of prisoners at that camp took place in September of 1941.

First_transport_to_Auschwitz_(Tarnów_-_14th_June_1940) Prisoners from the first transport to KL Auschwitz at the train station in Tarnów. The transport was composed mostly of Polish po

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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 death of a Russian fascist leader

Anastase Andreivich Vonsiatsky, Vozhd of the All-Russian Fascist Party

In 1935

Polish-born Russian Anastasy Vonsyatsky, leader of the US-based All-Russian Fascist Organisation, died on the 5th of February, 1966 at the age of sixty-six.

Born in Warsaw and educated in Moscow, Vonsyatsky travelled to the United States in his twenties. There, he founded his fascist party (also known as the Russian National Revolutionary Labor and Workers Peasant Party of Fascists) in Connecticut.

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Party Logo

After the US joined the Second World War at the midway point, he was arrested by the FBI in 1942 for connections to people in an American-based Nazi organisation.

He served a prison sentence until 1946, and then (ironically) lived in St Petersburg, Florida until his death.

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

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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.

Nazism in the United States

American Nazis stand in front of a banner of George Washington at New York’s Madison Square Garden in 1939. It is believed 22 000 people attended the event.

Prior to Pearl Harbor there was some support for Hitler in the United States, and even movies imported from Britain had anti-Nazi scenes edited out of them before their US release. Germany and Italy, both fascist countries at the time, made strong attempts to set up their own political branches with German and Italian Americans.

Of course, this changed totally when America was drawn into the Second World War halfway through, and anti-German propaganda movies became all the rage.

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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.

On this day: Hungary’s Arrow Cross Party takes power

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The flag of the Arrow Cross

Very similar to Germany’s Nazi Party, Hungary’s Arrow Cross party took power on the 15th of October, 1944.

Following similar ideas to Hitler, during Arrow Cross’ reign thousands of people died, and tens of thousands of people were deported.

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Just as the Nazis did, party members believed in a “master race”. Their view of this race included Hungarians and Germans. Ironically, the party’s views on race clashed with Hitler’s plans for central Europe.

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Jewish victims of Arrow Cross anti-Semitism. X

By early 1945, Arrow Cross had almost lost power. After World War Two had ended, members of the party were tried on war crimes.