One Year: 1942

Season 4: Episode 4

The Info Wars of World War II

How the Nazis used radio propaganda as a weapon against the United States.

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Episode Notes

In March 1942, a new nightly radio show hit the American airwaves. The stated goal of Station Debunk was to correct all the lies getting tossed around about America’s involvement in the war. But the real story was a whole lot stranger and more devious than it appeared.

One Year is produced by Evan Chung, Sophie Summergrad, Sam Kim, and Josh Levin.

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Sources for This Episode

Books

Bergmeier, Horst J. P. and Rainer E. Lotz. Hitler’s Airwaves: The Inside Story of Nazi Radio Broadcasting and Propaganda Swing, Yale University Press, 1997.

Campbell, Tracy. The Year of Peril: America in 1942, Yale University Press, 2020.

Studdert, Will. The Jazz War: Radio, Nazism and the Struggle for the Airwaves in World War II, I.B. Tauris, 2018.

Articles

Axis Sally sentenced to 10 to 30 years,” United Press, March 25, 1949.

Brinkley, Bill and Joseph Paull. “Burgman Guilty of Treason; Jury Out Nearly Five Hours,” Washington Post, Nov. 16, 1949.

Bunk, from Station Debunk,” Movie Radio Guide, April 18, 1942

Burgman Broadcast for Nazis: Fraulein,” New York Daily News, Oct. 18, 1949.

Burgman Says Nazi Work Not Treason,” Washington Post, Nov. 4, 1949.

Burgman’s Insane Acts Told by Wife,” Washington Post, Nov. 1, 1949.

Burgman to be Arraigned Friday on Treason Charge,” Winona Daily News, March 29, 1949.

Burgman v. United States, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Detailed Legal Plans Made to Avoid Hitch in ‘Axis Sally’ Case,” Evening Star, Aug. 22, 1948.

Doctor Says Burgman in 1946 Was Mentally Incompetent,” Washington Post, Nov. 5, 1949.

Doherty, Jack. “Bergman Nuts, Not Nazi, His Attorney Says,” New York Daily News, Oct. 12, 1949.

Doward, Jamie. “How the BBC’s truth offensive beat Hitler’s propaganda machine,” the Guardian, April 15, 2017.

Former Berlin Embassy Clerk Here to Face Treason Charge,” Washington Post, Feb. 5, 1949.

Former Hokah Resident Charged with Treason,” Winona Daily News, Jan. 12, 1949.

German Radio: The People’s Receiver,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Goebbels, Joseph. “The Good Companion,” German Propaganda Archive.

Goebbels, Joseph. “The Radio as the Eighth Great Power,” German Propaganda Archive.

Hasic, Albinko. “See the ‘Loose Lips Sink Ships’ Propaganda Posters of World War II,” Time, Dec. 8, 2016.

Mansky, Jackie. “‘Axis Sally’ Brought Hot Jazz to the Nazi Propaganda Machine,” Smithsonian Magazine, Sept. 25, 2018.

Meier, Allison C. “An Affordable Radio Brought Nazi Propaganda Home,” JSTOR Daily, Aug. 30, 2018.

Nazi Broadcasting ‘American Freedom,’” Associated Press, March 31, 1942.

Ponti, Crystal. “During WWII, ‘Rumor Clinics’ Were Set Up to Dispel Morale-Damaging Gossip,” Atlas Obscura, May 17, 2017.

The Capture and Execution of William Joyce,” the National World War II Museum New Orleans, Jan. 1, 2021.

Two German Women Testify That Burgman Boasted How Much His Broadcasts Hurt U.S.,” Washington Post, Oct. 20, 1949.

U.S. Treason Suspect Back,” United Press, Feb. 5, 1949.

VOA Through the Years, Voice of America, April 3, 2017.

Walser, Ray. “Recalling Dec. 11, 1941: When World War II Truly Began,” the Foreign Service Journal, December 2021.

Wittels, David G. “Hitler’s Short-Wave Rumor Factory,” Saturday Evening Post, Nov. 21, 1942

Wolters, Larry. “Station Debunk is Identified as Nazi Phony,” Chicago Daily Tribune, April 12, 1942.

Wood, Lewis. “Burgman Receives 6 to 20 Years For Treason in Nazi Broadcasting,” New York Times, Dec. 21, 1949.

Wortman, Marc. “The Fake British Radio Show That Helped Defeat the Nazis,” Smithsonian Magazine, Feb. 28, 2017.

Audiovisual

Radio Wars,” American Public Media.

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About the Show

The people and struggles that changed America—one year at a time. In each episode, host Josh Levin explores a story you may have forgotten, or one you’ve never heard of before. What were the moments that transformed politics, culture, science, religion, and more? And how does the nation’s past shape our present?

The fourth season of One Year covers 1942, a year when inflation threatened to sink America, disinformation was rampant, and a worker revolt changed music forever.

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