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You’re listening to Twenty Thousand Hertz
[music in: Wesley Slover – Nightfall Neighborhood]
With misleading information all over the internet, celebrity deepfakes, and scams coming at us from every direction, it can often feel like we’re living in the age of misinformation.
But in reality, it’s always been this way. People have been misleading each other since the dawn of time, using whatever technology they had available.
Julius Cesar had wildly exaggerated tales of his victory recited in the streets of Rome. Napoleon used fake newspapers to convince an Austrian army to come out from their stronghold. And in World War One, both sides used airplanes to drop leaflets of propaganda into enemy territory, the goal being to damage the morale of the opposing army.
Here’s an excerpt from a German leaflet, which was directed at American soldiers.
Other Narration: “What business is this war in Europe to you anyhow? You don’t want to annex anything, do you? …If you stay with the outfit, ten chances to one, all you will get out of it will be a tombstone in France.”
By the time World War Two came along, the militaries of the world were using radio broadcasts to do the same thing. The British had a radio station called Gustav Siegfried Eins that sent negative messages to German soldiers.
Other voices: [clip: Gustav Siegfried Eins] Achtung achtung, hier ist Gustav Siegfried Eins, GS1.
The Nazi forces had their own radio station that did the opposite. Their most famous broadcaster was known as Axis Sally. Her messages were often aimed at American women who were waiting for their loved ones to come home from the war.
Other voices: [clip: German Radio[ Good evening women of America… As time goes on, I think of you more and more… waiting for the one you love… waiting and weeping in the secrecy of your own room. Thinking of the husband, the son or the brother who is being sacrificed by Franklin D. Roosevelt perishing on the fringes of Europe.
The Japanese army had their own propaganda station called Radio Tokyo. But strangely enough, the most infamous voice behind Radio Tokyo didn’t want to spread propaganda at all. And the fact that she ended up working for the Japanese military really came down to bad luck.
This story comes from the podcast History Daily. Here’s host Lindsay Graham.