Nazi Fighter, Alumna Honored in Exhibit, Lecture

UW-Madison News Release – October 13, 2010

Mildred Fish-Harnack, a famous University of Wisconsin-Madison alumna who was the only American executed in Nazi Germany as an underground conspirator on orders of Adolf Hitler, is being honored in an exhibit opening today (Oct. 13) and a lecture Friday, Oct. 15.

A native of Milwaukee, Fish-Harnack was an American literary scholar who earned her M.A. in English literature from UW-Madison in 1925. She taught in the English department and wrote for the Wisconsin State Journal and the Wisconsin Literary Magazine. She and her husband moved to Berlin, where she taught American literature and became actively and passionately involved in the Nazi resistance. Arrested in 1942, she was guillotined on Feb. 16, 1943.

On display at the Hillel Foundation at 611 Langdon St. through Dec. 3, the memorial exhibit highlights Fish-Harnack’s time as a UW-Madison student and instructor as well as her time in Germany. It includes letters, articles, photographs and other memorabilia from the era. Opening day of the exhibit will be observed with a reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m. today (Wednesday, Oct. 13) at the Hillel Foundation.

On Friday, Oct. 15, the UW-Madison Division of International Studies will present the 10th annual Mildred Fish-Harnack Human Rights and Democracy Lecture at 3:30 p.m. in the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon St. Shareen Blair Brysac, author of “Resisting Hitler: Mildred Harnack and the Red Orchestra,” will present “Mildred and Arvid Harnack — Their Lives in Letters,” with students reading letters between Mildred and Arvid Harnack.

Further events celebrating Fish-Harnack include “Search for Mildred: Wisconsin’s Nazi Fighter,” a behind-the-scenes look at Wisconsin Public Television producer Joel Waldinger’s quest for information and images regarding her story. It will be presented Monday, Oct. 18, at 7 p.m. at the Hillel Foundation.

By Bill Graf

Read an article about the exhibition in The Daily Cardinal.