Mildred Fish-Harnack sculpture to be dedicated on July 12

The public is invited to attend the dedication of the sculpture Mildred by John Durbrow. The sculpture, created in honor of the life of Mildred Fish-Harnack, will be held on Friday, July 12, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. in Marshall Park, 2101 Allen Blvd. in Madison.

An academic delegation of representatives from eight German universities, who are visiting Wisconsin that week and in Madison that day, will also attend the ceremony. A similar sculpture is planned for the campus of the University of Giessen, where Mildred completed a PhD in Literature.

Mildred Fish-Harnack
Mildred Fish-Harnack

Mildred Fish-Harnack is celebrated today as a hero of resistance to the Nazi regime in Germany. She was born in Milwaukee in 1902 and attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where she met and married Arvid Harnack from Germany. They returned to Germany, attended the University in Giessen, and moved to Berlin, where they became involved in a resistance movement that supplied information about German economic and military activities to the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. The group was discovered and arrested in September of 1942, and Arvid was executed in December. Mildred was tried and initially sentenced to prison, but Hitler ordered a new trial and a new sentence, and she was executed by guillotine on February 16, 1943. Her last words were reported to be “Ich habe Deutschland auch so geliebt” (“I have also loved Germany so much”).

In the Artist’s statement explaining what motivated him to create a sculpture in Mildred Fish-Harnack’s name, Durbrow wrote:

Mildred exhibited the strength, courage, and resolve to address early on the forces of oppression which eventually inflamed the entire world. Her convictions led her to associations and political environments far afield from her cherished serenity and comforts of Wisconsin, into a situation where once academic discourse begat deliberate action. She was too involved in the resistance to be perceived simply as a victim, yet too removed from mainstream conduct of war to have received accolades for heroism. Mildred’s actions were imbued with personal resolve and inner strength rather than by ambition. The subtly anthropomorphized stele memorial reflects the quiet and somber dignity which is befitting one whose pursuits where impelled by selfless love and idealism. The memorial is intended to spiritually unite Mildred with her formative base and intellectual center, Wisconsin.

Mayor Satya Rhodes Conway and the Madison Arts Commission invite the public to attend and celebrate the life and values of this great Wisconsin woman.

Mildred’s life and legacy is recognized at the University of Wisconsin-Madison through the Mildred Fish-Harnack Human Rights and Democracy Lecture, an event held each academic year to promote greater understanding of human rights and democracy, and enrich international studies. The lecture brings to campus a person who contributes to the cause of human rights through academic scholarship and/or active leadership. More information about the lecture, which will be held next in spring 2020, will be available on the lecture website.

Publisher’s note: Portions of this article were originally published at