Born and raised in Milwaukee, Mildred Harnack was twenty-six when she enrolled in a PhD program in Germany and witnessed the meteoric rise of the Nazi party. In 1932, she began holding secret meetings in her apartment—a small band of political activists that by 1940 had grown into the largest underground resistance group in Berlin. She recruited working-class Germans into the resistance, helped Jews escape, plotted acts of sabotage, and collaborated in writing leaflets that denounced Hitler and called for revolution. When the first shots of the Second World War were fired, she became a spy, couriering top-secret intelligence to the Allies.
On the eve of her escape to Sweden, she was ambushed by the Gestapo. At a Nazi military court, a panel of five judges sentenced her to six years at a prison camp, but Hitler overruled the decision and ordered her execution. On February 16, 1943, she was strapped to a guillotine and beheaded.
Historians identify Mildred Harnack as the only American in the leadership of the German resistance, yet her remarkable story has remained almost unknown until now.
Join the Museum for a program exploring Harnack’s life and legacy with her great-great-niece Rebecca Donner, author of the newly-released book All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days: The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler. Donner will be in conversation with Ari Goldstein, the Museum’s Senior Public Programs Producer.
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Live closed captions will be available during this program.
Public programming at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is made possible, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy C. Hochul and the New York State Legislature; a Humanities New York CARES Grant with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the federal CARES Act; and other generous donors.