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Wisconsin’s Nazi Fighter: Mildred Fish-Harnack

Here is a story of one badass Wisconsin woman: Mildred Fish-Harnack.

Mildred was born in Milwaukee in 1902. While studying and teaching at UW-Madison, she met a German student named Arvid Harnack and married him in 1926. Because how do you meet a guy named Arvid and not marry him.

A few years later, they moved to Germany, where Mildred taught and worked toward her doctorate while Arvid worked for the German government.

1930s. German government. What could go wrong?

When Hitler began his rise to power, Mildred and Arvid decided to do more activities together to keep the relationship strong. So they joined a small resistance group, which would later be known as the Red Orchestra.

Red Orchestra smuggled important secrets about the Nazis to the U.S. and Soviet governments, all while helping Jewish people escape from Nazi Germany.

Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have a happy ending because the couple was caught and were both hanged.

Remember: the couple who resists fascism together and gets executed together, stays together. Or something like that.

Mildred ended up being the only American woman to die by Hitler’s direct order for spying on Germany during World War II.

In 1986, Wisconsin established Mildred Fish-Harnack Day. So this September 16th, pour one out for Mildred!


The real bravery of Mildred Fish-Harnack is what fictional writers emulate in Handmaid’s Tale #womenofhistory #wisconsinwomen #womenshistorymonth

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