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Radio Propaganda - Another Weapon In War
Dateline: 12/19/02
More of this Feature
Part 1: Using Radio Against Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Manuel Noriega in Panama and Fidel Castro in Cuba.

Related Resources
Spy Another Day - With Radio

Elsewhere on the Web
More About "Tokyo Rose"
Listen To "Tokyo Rose" Broadcasts
"Axis Sally" Sounds & Pictures
"Hanoi Hannah" & Radio Hanoi MP3s

During the Vietnam War in the 1960s and very early 1970s, radio propaganda was used against U.S. troops by the North Vietnamese. Trinh Thi Ngo, also known as "Hanoi Hannah", made 3 broadcasts-a-day directed toward American soldiers. She would list the newly killed or imprisoned Americans, try to convince American boys that the war was unjust and immoral, and in between it all, play popular songs of the day.

During World War II in the early to mid 1940s, Japan also directed radio-based propaganda toward American troops. Most people think of a female disc-jockey known as "Tokyo Rose" as the main culprit. But, truth be told, no one by that name broadcasted for the Japanese. The name was invented by American Servicemen. But, Iva Ikuko Toguri, a first-generation Japanese/American, was forced to broadcast propaganda by the Japanese during the war. Toguri was selected out of the NHK Radio typing pool to be a DJ for a show called "The Zero Hour" and her story is an amazing one. She actually worked against the Japanese by sabotaging her own broadcasts, openly supported the U.S. off-the-air, and was harassed by police. Ironically, after the war ended, she was the sole person ever sent to prison for these propaganda broadcasts. On January 19, 1977, Toguri was pardoned by President Gerald Ford.

Also during World War II, Germany enlisted the radio services of Mildred Gillars, a woman who came to be known as "Axis Sally". Gillars, a native of Portland, Maine, was a music student at Hunter College in Germany during the 1930s. She subsequently fell in love with a professor and later, during the war, he convinced her to become involved in propaganda broadcasts on behalf of Germany. She was found guilty of treason in 1949 and sentenced to 10-30 years in prison. In 1962 she was released from prison and settled in Columbus, Ohio where she taught music until her death in 1988.

It's been said the word is deadlier than the sword. One thing is for sure: when it comes to manipulating armed forces, it has often been one of the most sinister weapons ever to be employed against lonely, homesick or tired soldiers.

- Corey Deitz

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