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Historically Speaking

Historically Speaking: ‘G.I., I Know Where You Are and What You’re Doing’

By Tom Morrow

Ask anyone today who “Lord Haa Haa or “Axis Sally” was, and you’ll probably get a blank stare, but mention the name “Tokyo Rose” and nearly everyone has heard of that name.

William Joyce aka Lord Haa Haa

Lord Haw-Haw was a nickname for Irish-American William Joyce, who broadcast Nazi propaganda to Britain from Germany during the Second World War. The same nickname also was applied to other broadcasters of English-language propaganda from Germany, but it is Joyce with whom the name Lord Haa Haa is identified.

Axis Sally was the generic nickname given to two women radio personalities who broadcast English-language propaganda for Germany.

On their radio shows, the two Axis Sally personalities typically would alternate between swing music and propaganda messages aimed at American troops. These messages would emphasize the value of surrender, stoke fears that soldiers’ wives and girlfriends were cheating on them, and point out the Axis powers knew their locations.

Tokyo Rose was a name given by Allied troops in the South Pacific during World War II to all female English-speaking radio broadcasters of Japanese propaganda. The programs were broadcast in the South Pacific and North America to demoralize Allied troops abroad and their families at home by emphasizing troops’ wartime difficulties and military losses.

The name “Tokyo Rose” was never actually used by any Japanese broadcaster, but in 1943, it first appeared in U.S. newspapers in the context of these radio programs.

Tokyo Rose was described as highly sexualized, manipulative, and deadly to American interests in the South Pacific, particularly by leaking intelligence of American losses in radio broadcasts. In 1949 the San Francisco Chronicle described Tokyo Rose as the “Mata Hari of radio.”

Iva Toguri D'Aquino

Iva Toguri D’Aquino

Tokyo Rose ceased to be merely a symbol in September 1945 when Iva ToguriD’Aquino, an American-born Japanese was determined to have been a disc jockey for a propagandist radio program. When she attempted to return to the United States. Toguri was accused of being the ‘real’ Tokyo Rose, arrested, tried, and became the seventh person in U.S. history to be convicted of treason.

Toguri’s conviction was eventually overturned due to lack of evidence and she was released from prison in 1956, but it was more than 20 years later before she received a pardon. Although she had broadcast under the name “Orphan Ann,” Iva Toguri has been known as “Tokyo Rose” since her return to the United States.

An American citizen and the daughter of Japanese immigrants, Toguri had traveled to Japan before the war to tend to a sick aunt. Unable to leave Japan when war broke out with the United States, unable to stay with her aunt’s family as an American citizen, and unable to receive any aid from her parents, who were placed in internment camps in Arizona, Toguri eventually took a job as a part-time typist at Radio Tokyo (NHK). She quickly was recruited as a broadcaster for the 75-minute propagandist program The Zero Hour, which consisted of skits, news reports, and popular American music.

When Toguri tried to return to the US, a popular uproar ensued because Walter Winchell and the American Legion lobbied relentlessly for a trial, prompting the FBI to renew its investigation of Toguri’s wartime activities.

Her 1949 trial resulted in a conviction on one of eight counts of treason. However, in 1974, investigative journalists found key witnesses who claimed they were forced to lie during testimony. President Gerald Ford pardoned Toguri in 1977.

On Jan. 15, 2006, the World War II Veterans Committee awarded Toguri its annual Edward J. Herlihy Citizenship Award, citing “her indomitable spirit, love of country, and the example of courage she has given her fellow Americans.” Toguri died of natural causes in a Chicago hospital on Sept. 26, 2006, at the age of 90,