Mildred Fish-Harnack

September 16, 2011 Wisconsin Public Television Leave a Comment

Do you know what today is?  If you have kids or grandchildren in Wisconsin public schools they should be able to answer that question. For the past 25 years Wisconsin has marked September 16th as Mildred Fish-Harnack day in Wisconsin public schools. Mildred Fish was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1902. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Along with her German husband, Arvid Harnack,  she was active in an underground Nazi resistance circle in Berlin until her capture, torture and execution by guillotine in 1943 – The only American woman executed on the direct orders of Adolf Hitler. I’m currently working on a new Wisconsin Public Television documentary that will offer a glimpse into the life of this remarkable, brave Wisconsin woman.

The documentary places this forgotten daughter of Wisconsin within a historical context and introduces along the way the many perspectives by which her life has been judged. “Wisconsin’s Nazi Resistance: The Mildred Fish-Harnack Story” will incorporate historical video from Milwaukee, Madison, Berlin and WWII Germany. Newly uncovered information, official German documents and papers from U.S. archives will provide a glimpse into the world of the resistance.

The documentary will also delve into the reasons why despite this being the 25th Anniversary of the Mildred Harnack School Observance Day, you have probably never heard of her. In life as in death this Milwaukee born, UW scholar is controversial.

Mildred Fish-Harnack’s story of courage and conviction will be showcased in an hour-long documentary. No film about her life currently exists in the United States. Wisconsin Public Television and Milwaukee Public Television will premiere the documentary “Wisconsin’s Nazi Resistance: The Mildred Fish-Harnack Story” statewide on November 7 at 8:00 p.m. I invite you to watch and let me know what you think.
Photos courtesy of the German Resistance Memorial Center.

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