Young Mildred FishA Young Mildred Fish
Mildred Elizabeth Fish was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on September 16, 1902.  She attended West Division High School, and in 1926 worked at what is now the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as a lecturer on German literature.  During this time she met her future husband, a German, Arvid Harnack, who was in the U.S. studying at University of Wisconsin-Madison.  They wed in Wisconsin and left for Germany in 1929 where she studied for her doctorate.  The couple moved to Berlin from Giessen in 1930 where she worked as an assistant lecturer of English and American literature and also as a translator.


Mildred Fish Harnack, Educator and Resistance   1902-1943
Clara, Mildred and Arvid Harnack c. 1931, Deutscher Widerstand, BerlinClara, Mildred & Arvid Harnack c. 1931
It was during this time in Berlin that Mildred became interested in Communism as a solution to poverty.  In 1932, she was let go from her teaching position and toured the Soviet Union with her husband and other academics. Arvid and Mildred began a discussion circle that debated the political situation of the time.  This circle became the center of a resistance group that by 1941 was feeding Soviet agents information about German intentions in the upcoming invasion of Russia.  Mildred and her husband recruited more members who were against the Nazi regime and this group became a hub of resistance inside Germany.  

Mildred Fish Harnack Building in Milwaukee, WIDr. Mildred Fish Harnack Bldg, Urban Milwaukee photo
Unfortunately, this group’s radio messages were intercepted and decoded.  The Gestapo arrested Arvid and Mildred on September 7, 1942, and after a quick trial Arvid was executed on Dec. 22, 1942.  Mildred Fish Harnack was originally given a six year sentence by the court, but Hitler refused to endorse this and ordered a new trial.  Upon Hitler’s direct order, Harnack was found guilty and beheaded on Feb. 16, 1943.  Her last words were, “I loved Germany so much.”


“And I have loved Germany so much.” Mildred's Final Words
For more information, view this short documentary by Wisconsin Public Television: http://wpt.org/nazi-resistance/main