Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Thursday, September 16 marks Mildred Fish-Harnack Day in Wisconsin, a day where we remember her contributions to society, and her bravery and resilience during World War II.
Born in Milwaukee on September 16, 1902, Mildred Fish-Harnack became a lecturer of German literature at the Milwaukee State Normal School, now the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Upon her marriage to Arvid Harnack, the couple moved to Germany, where she continued working as a lecturer while pursuing her doctorate on American literature. As the Nazi Party came to power in Germany, the couple resisted, with Arvid and Mildred passing along secret information to the Allied powers. Despite the risks, the couple were instrumental in informing the Soviet Union of an impending Nazi invasion of Stalingrad. In 1942, communications to the Allies were intercepted, and Mildred, Arvid and their friends were captured and tried for treason. Arvid was executed by the Gestapo on December 22, 1942, and Mildred on February 16, 1943.
In 1986, the Wisconsin State Legislature voted to designate September 16 as Mildred Fish-Harnack Day across the state.
For more information on Mildred Fish-Harnack Day, visit PBS Wisconsin’s biography page at https://pbswisconsineducation.org/biographies/harnack.html.