Wisconsin History Day By Day

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Mildred Fish Harnack (Wikipedia)

From Literary Scholar to Soviet Spy

Mildred Fish Harnack Information

Read More About It

"Resisting Hitler: Mildred Harnack and the Red Orchestra" by Shareen Blair Brysac



Interesting Fact:

The Wisconsin Legislature declared Sept. 16, Harnack's birthday, as a special observance day on Wisconsin school calendars.

Study Questions:

  • Why were Mildred Fish Harnack and her husband in Germany during World War II?
  • What was their involvement in the Red Orchestra?
  • How has Harnack been remembered since her death?

    U.S. historical events that occurred on February 16:

    1804: During a U.S. war with Tripoli, Lt. Stephen Decatur leads a raid to burn the U.S. Navy ship that had been captured by Barbary pirates.
    1862: Northern general Ulysses S. Grant accepts the surrender of over 14,000 Confederate troops at Fort Donelson, Tennessee.
    1968: The 911 first emergency telephone service begins.

  • February 16

    February 16, 1943: Mildred Fish Harnack, born in Milwaukee and educated at the University of Wisconsin, was guillotined in Berlin, Germany, on Feb. 16, 1943, on the personal orders of Adolf Hitler. Her husband, Arvid, was executed two months earlier. The couple, who met at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in the 1920's, were members of the Red Orchestra, an anti-Hitler underground resistance organization.

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