Mildred Fish Harnack was born as the daugther of the merchant W.C. Fish in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 16th, 1902. After her father's death the family moved to Washington where Mildred graduated at Western High School. From 1920 - 1921 she studied at George Washington University.
From 1921 till 1925 she studied philogy and history of Literature at Wisconsin University in Madison.During that time her first own literary works appeared, she was coeditor of the literary magazine of the university and held own seminars. In 1926, she married Arvid Harnack, whom she had met during her studies.From 1928 - 1929 Mildred Harnack worked as a lecturer at Goucher College. At the same time she studied at John Hopkins University in Baltimore.In 1929 she followed her husband to Germany. Here she did literary and philosophy studies in Jena, Gießen and Berlin. In 1931 she was employed by the "Preußisches Kultusministerium" as a lector of American literature history at the University of Berlin. At that time she became a member of the "Arbeitsgemeinschaft zum Studium der sowjetrussischen Planwirtschaft", which was founded by Arvid Harnack and professor Friedrich Lenz in 1930/1931. From 1932 till 1936 Mildred Harnack worked as a teacher of English an literature history at Berlin night school. During that time many articles on modern American literature appeared. Because of her friendship with the daughter of the American ambassador Martha Dodd, Mildred and her husband were often invited to the American embassy. She made friends with Greta and Adam Kuckhoff and met Adolf Grimme and John Sieg.
From 1936 till 1938 Mildred Harnack prepared her dissertation "Die Entwicklung der amerikanischen Literatur der Gegenwart in einigen Hauptvertretern des Romans und der Kurzgeschichte". She graduated at Gießen University on November 20th, 1941. In 1941/1942 Mildred Harnack worked as a teacher of languages at Berlin University. From 1941 on, she often met Libertas and Harro Schulze - Boysen. Together with her husband, Mildred Harnack supported the resistance against the Nazi - regime.On September 7th, 1942, Arvid and Mildred Harnack were arrested in Preil at the Kurischen Nehrung. They were taken to the Gestapo headquarters, Prinz - Albrecht - Street No. 8, then to prison in Charlottenburg, Berlin. After the rail (December 15th till December 19th, 1942, RKG/2nd Senate), she was given a six years prison sentence because of "helping to prepare high treason and espionage". Hitler reversed the sentence on December 21st, 1942. The sentence of the second trail (13th and 16th January 1943 RKG/3rd Senate) was: death penalty.
The execution was carried out in Plötzensee at 6.57 pm on February 16th, 1943.

Translated by:

  • Sören Siegmund (11/1)
  • Quan Ku Huu (11/1)
  • Thomas Enderlein (10/5)

In January 2000

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