Treason on the Airwaves: Three Allied Broadcasters on Axis Radio during World War II

Treason on the Airwaves: Three Allied Broadcasters on Axis Radio during World War II

Treason on the Airwaves: Three Allied Broadcasters on Axis Radio during World War II

Treason on the Airwaves: Three Allied Broadcasters on Axis Radio during World War II

Synopsis

This is a fascinating work based on three individuals who became notorious in World War II as broadcasters over Axis radio and were later tried for treason in their home countries.

Excerpt

Here is a fascinating triptych, lucidly and authoritatively etched, of World War II broadcasters who engaged in activity that was deemed treason. the three accused—an Englishman, an Australian, and an American—were all brought to trial following the end of hostilities; the nature of the sentences that were handed down to each of them varied enormously according to the extent of post-war public resentments and the personality of the accused.

The most familiar among the three is perhaps Iva Toguri—a young American of Japanese origin who was popularly known as “Tokyo Rose”—though the profiles of the other two are equally compelling. the Englishman John Amery, a virulent anti-Communist and anti-Semite who spoke openly of Winston Churchill as a “Jew-lover,” became enchanted early on with fascist doctrines and unwisely linked his star to the triumph of Nazism in German wartime broadcasts. the Australian Charles Cousens, a popular radio personality at home, became equally prominent abroad among prisoners recruited by the Japanese to broadcast war news. Iva Toguri, who was stranded in Japan at the outbreak of the war, accepted the radio broadcast post that was offered to her out of necessity rather than initiative or conviction.

As the author examines their stories, all three accounts provoke thoughtful questions as to the nature of justice and retribution. What constitutes the special contribution of Professor Keene is her emphasis less on the political climate surrounding the trials—amply covered in many scholarly tracts—than on the social and racial overtones manifest in the course of the three-fold prosecutions. Her thesis, that the dominant motive for the traitor John Amery as well as for the judges of the alleged traitor Tokyo Rose was racism, will certainly lead to a spirited debate among the readers of this book.

The author is scrupulous in examining the small, personal details that were often ignored in official accounts and which allow for a balanced view in forming any judgments with regard to the three protagonists. Because the destinies of all three were tied to their facility with the microphone, the powerful propaganda . . .

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