Lot 236

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Fascinating, extensive grouping of documents and correspondence, all related to the arrest and trial of RITA ZUCCA (1912-1998), an Italian-American singer and radio announcer whose infamous propaganda broadcasts from Rome to Allied soldiers in North Africa, Sicily and Italy garnered her the nickname "Axis Sally", but who Allied courts were unable to try for treason due to her Italian citizenship. The group includes a typed document, 5pp. 4to., Rome, Aug. 24, 1946, a legal brief submitted to the Allied Command in Italy in Zucca''s defense by her attorney, Ottavio Libotte. The document gives a thorough overview of the Zucca''s current status and the circumstances by which she came to be appear in anti-Allied propaganda broadcasts, in small part: "... On June 5th, 1945, the Counter Intelligence Corps proceeded to arrest Rita Zucca in Turin, as responsible for Radio Propaganda held in Italy in the interest of the Italo-German Axis after Sept. 8th, 1943... at the hearing of Sept. 29th, 1945, she was sentenced to four years and five months imprisonment as responsible of the above stated offense... ''For having in Rome... maintained intelligence with the enemy, with the aim of favoring their military operations, by means of radio transmissions, especially directed to the American forces, and tending to demoralize said Armed Forces, and to instigate the members of said Forces to desert or in any way cease fighting.'' Rita Zucca appealed against the above sentence... and at the hearing of March 8th, 1946... the sentence... was cancelled without recourse, and it was ordered the transmission of the acts to the Attorney General of the Court of Appeal of Rome... On August 19th, 1946, the trial took place, and the prosecutor could ask an acquittal... inasmuch as it was a political offense committed at the detriment of the Italian State and not the detriment of the Allied Armed Forces... Now, before the Allied Command take any action toward he fate, I invoke this Allied Command to release her completely, for the following reasons... Rita Zucca is not a person dangerous to the interests of the Allied Armed Forces in Italy... On January 2nd, 1940, she arrived in Italy... on June 10th, 1940, with the advent of the declaration of war by Italy to France and England, and inasmuch as all sailings form Italy to the United States ceased, she was compelled to remain in Italy... on June 6th, 1941... Rita Zucca had renounced her American citizenship, and regained her Italian Nationality. She came to this decision... presuming probable a war between Italy and the United States. Thus, to avoid, as an enemy alien, a possible confinement to a concentration camp and or the possible confiscation of her father''s properties... The State of War between Italy and the United States... put her in a difficult financial condition, which condition grew worse on account of a love relation contracted around December 1941, with a certain Siro Mariottini, who exploited her, compelling her to sacrifice all her savings and a few personal valuable objects she had with her... she was compelled to accept a position as typist with the office of ''Viticoltura''... In March 1942, she was discharged [after being] caught copying an anti-fascist magazine... in February 1943, she accepted a position as announcer for English language broadcasts, offered to her by the Radio Section of the Ministry of Popular Culture. She was then taking part in the ''Sally and Peter Program'', which provided news broadcasts to the Allied English American Forces in Tunisia. On September 8th, 1943, the Rome Radio stopped functioning, and again she was discharged, so she found herself again in serious financial difficulties... on January 28th, 1944, Rita Zucca received an invitation to resume her work at the Rome Radio, then under German Control. Destitute, full of debts, she accepted. She took part in the program called ''Jerry''s Front Calling'', produced and directed by the German Karl Goedel, always taking a very secondary part in the dialogue of said program... Her participation in the above program was merely material, she was only giving her voice in the reading in English of dialogues, prepared by Goedel. She never participated in the composition of said dialogues... She never had in her soul neither the will nor the conscience to give aid to the Germans, [or] to damage to interests of the Allied Forces..." Libotte goes on to introduce several affidavits made by close friends with Zucca, as well as that of an American sergeant who was sent to work at the radio station with Zucca as a prisoner of war (unfortunately not present here), all stating that Zucca never wrote any of the programs in which she performed, never broadcast any news on the movements of American troops, had no interest in politics, always had secondary roles in the dialogues, and was emotional and easily influenced. Several copies of this document, in both Italian and English, are presented here. Three pieces of correspondence from Rita Zucca herself, all in Italian, are also present. These include: A.N.S. "Tucci" 1p. 12mo., [n.p., n.d.], a note to her father Constantino, presumably written while under arrest; a partly-printed L.S., 2pp. 8vo., [n.p.], March 21, 1945, to her lover, Siro Mariottini, executed on a Red Cross message form; and an unsigned typed letter (possibly a contemporary copy), 3pp. 4to., [n.p.], April 12, 1944, again to Mariottini, informing him of her bad health during her pregnancy and lamenting his inattention to her and his dalliances with another woman. Two retained copies of typed news briefs regarding the case are also present: the first, 1p. 4to., [n.p., n.d.], states that attorney Max Spelke has been retained in regards to the case. He releases a statement: "... no charges of treason or any other offense are pending in the Department of Justice against Rita Louise Zucca... Miss Zucca has been in Italy and away from this country for over six years and she is an Italian subject... " The second release, 1p. 4to., Milan, June 8, 1945, by Overseas News Agency correspondent June Frank, who had covered Zucca''s activities prior to her arrest. Frank laments being unable to secure an interview with Zucca, and relating many of the facts of her case, in small part: "... Rita Zucca, alias Axis Sally, is not an American. The point is of major importance since, were she to be tried for treason as a United States citizen, she would be subject to capital sentence... In 1941 she regained her Italian citizenship. She fell deeply in love the next year with one Siro Mariottini... Early in 1944 she found herself destitute and to add to her troubles pregnant. Siro had deserted her and she was apparently forced to accept a position as an announcer over the Nazi radio in Italy... the Germans told her bluntly ''announce programs on the radio for us or go to a concentration camp''. She retreated north with the Nazi''s radio crew in a state that was the equivalent of a nervous breakdown. From her private diary, it is plain that she suffered at the hands of the Germans.... After the birth of her son, she begged to be dismissed from her radio duties. That permission was refused, and the Nazis also refused to pay her her salary while she was ill. She came to know another form of German slavery... She was arrested with her baby and seemed unafraid, although surprised. She insisted on taking the baby into custody with her... She offered no defense for her acts. ''I don''t feel guilty'', she told American authorities. ''I was only an announcer.''" The collection also features eight typed letters, some signed, some with retained copies, in Italian, dated between Sep. 24, 1945 and March 3, 1946, from attorney Ottavio Libotte to Rita Zucca''s father Constantino in New York, mostly providing updates on his daughter''s case, and apprising him of his legal fees. Further present are three A.L.S.''s, each 2pp. 4to., dated between March 20 and July 12, 1945, to Constantino Zucca from Rita''s erstwhile lover, Siro Mariottini. These letters, untranslated by us, presumably request money, as also present are a mail transfer receipt and a letter from the National City Bank of New York, dated April 20 and November 16, 1945, confirming that Constantino Zucca has sent $501.50 and $500, respectively, to Siro Mariottini. The collection is rounded out by approx. 20 telegrams regarding the case, all in Italian, between Constantino Zucca and his brother Louis in the United States and Siro Mariottini and Ottavio Libotte in Italy, as well as a typed list of goods sent to Rita in prison and a large collection of newspaper clippings related to the case. The majority of the Italian items present here are untranslated by us, and are certainly worthy of further research. Zucca was in reality one of two propagandists to receive the "Axis Sally" moniker, the other being Maine-born Mildred Gillars, who broadcast out of Berlin and was successfully convicted of treason, being sentenced to ten to thirty years. Zucca was sentenced to 4 and years for collaboration by an Italian military tribunal, but was released after nine months. She was barred from returning to the United States, and died in obscurity in 1998.

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December 19, 2017 10:00 AM EST
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