Wisconsin's Nazi Resistance: The Mildred Fish-Harnack Story

Trace the life and legacy of Mildred Fish-Harnack through video, events, images, documents, personal correspondence and honors.

Explore Mildred's story at [wpt.org/naziresistance](http://www.wpt2.org/naziresistance/).

1901-05-24 00:00:00

Arvid Harnack's Birth Day

Arvid is born in Darmstadt, Germany.

1902-09-16 00:00:00

Mildred's Birth Day

WATCH VIDEO | PDF - Mildred is born in Milwaukee, Wis.

1906-01-02 00:00:00

Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette, Sr.

WATCH VIDEO - Robert La Follette, Sr. embodied the Progressive movement.

1910-04-05 00:00:00

Milwaukee’s First Socialist Mayor

WATCH VIDEO - Emil Seidel was elected Mayor of Milwaukee, becoming the first Socialist mayor of a major city in the United States.

1914-07-14 00:00:00

World War I Begins

Shifting political alliances and the Balkan Wars precede the start of World War I. More than 15 million military and civilian deaths ensued.

1916-01-01 00:00:00

Daniel Hoan, Milwaukee's 2nd Socialist Mayor

WATCH VIDEO - Daniel Hoan (1881-1961) remained mayor for twenty-four years making him the longest continuous Socialist administrator in United States history.

1917-04-06 00:00:00

U.S. Enters World War I

WATCH VIDEO - The United States entry into WWI had a major influence on Milwaukee, the most German of all American cities.

1918-01-09 00:00:00

Mildred's Father Died

William Cooke Fish was estranged from his family. He died alone at age 61.

1918-02-01 01:03:53

1918 Flu Pandemic

While the total number of deaths is unknown, scientists estimate 3-6% of the world population (50-100 million people) died.

1918-07-01 00:00:00

Mildred and Her Mother Move

WATCH VIDEO - In 1918, the end of the war meant a new beginning for Mildred and her mother, Georgina, when they moved to the Washington, D.C. area.

1918-11-11 00:00:00

Armistice Ends World War I

The armistice was signed in Compiègne Forest (France) on the 11th of November, 1918.

1919-05-01 00:00:00

High School Graduation

Mildred graduates from Western High School in Georgetown - a suburb of D.C

1919-10-28 00:00:00


Congress passed the Volstead Act, but it became known as the National Prohibition Act, over President Woodrow Wilson's veto on October 28, 1919.

1921-09-01 00:00:00

Mildred's Transfer

After attending George Washington University for one year, Mildred transferred to the University of Wisconsin to study journalism.

1924-01-01 01:03:53

Arvid completes Doctor of Law

Arvid studied law at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena and became a Doctor of Law in 1924.

1924-09-15 00:00:00

Mildred's Mentor

Discover more about William Ellery Leonard, a University of Wisconsin professor and one of America’s leading poets in the 1920s.

1924-12-05 00:00:00

KKK March in Madison

WATCH VIDEO - In 1924 more than 2,000 Ku Klux Klan members converged on Madison. Their aim was to 'clean-up' Madison's troubled Greenbush Neighborhood. The exact neighborhood where Mildred and Arvid would later live.

1925-04-26 00:00:00

Paul von Hidenburg elected President of Germany.

Initially reluctant to run for office, Hindenburg was persuaded by the frequent pressure coming from one of the leaders of the German National People’s Party, Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz.

1926-02-15 00:00:00

Arvid Arrives

WATCH VIDEO - Arvid comes to the University of Wisconsin Madison to study economies in turmoil.

1926-03-01 00:00:00

Mildred Meets Arvid

WATCH VIDEO - By accident or fate Mildred Fish met the love of her life, Arvid Harnack, on the University of Wisconsin campus.

1926-04-01 01:03:53

Friday Niters

WATCH VIDEO - The connection to economist and professor John R Commons begins as the academic study of “economies in turmoil” and leads to the “Friday Niters” or “Circle of Friends”, which was similar to their resistance group in Germany.

1926-05-01 00:00:00

Devil's Lake Memories

In a letter sent home to Germany Arvid describes a visit to Devil’s Lake to his mother, Clara.

1926-06-08 00:00:00

We're Engaged!

Arvid writes home again to his mother about his surprise engagement to Mildred Fish.

1926-06-16 00:00:00

Asking for Her Hand

PDF | Arvid writes in German to Mildred's mother, Georgina, announcing his plans to marry her daughter.

1926-08-08 00:00:00

Our Wedding

PDF | Arvid writes to his mother, Clara, describing his wedding on Mildred's brother's farm in the Town of Rutland.

1926-08-08 00:00:00

Woman's Suffrage Movement

Wisconsin becomes the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment granting NATIONAL suffrage to women.

1927-09-01 00:00:00

Madison's Greenbush Neighborhood

WATCH VIDEO - Find out what this neighborhood would have been like in 1927-28 when Mildred and Arvid Harnack lived on Chandler Street in the heart of the Greenbush Neighborhood.

1928-08-16 00:00:00

Teaching English

Mildred teaches English at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland.

1928-09-28 00:00:00

Arvid's Departure

PDF | The day after Arvid left for Germany without Mildred she wrote his mother about what it would take to stand alone on her own without him.

1929-02-19 00:00:00

Madison Memories

PDF - After returning to Germany, Arvid wrote his economic mentor about his experience in Madison and meeting Mildred.

1929-06-02 00:00:00

Home in Germany

Mildred joins Arvid in Germany, initially living in the Harnack family home in Jena; she also begins to work on her doctorate in American Literature at the University in Jena and in Giessen.

1929-10-24 00:00:00

Wall Street Crash of 1929

The crash signaled the beginning of the 12-year Great Depression.

1931-01-01 00:00:00

American Literature

Mildred's preface to a study of American Literature prepared for her teaching position at the University of Berlin.

1931-02-01 00:00:00

American Literature Lecture

Mildred begins teaching at the University of Berlin, now Humboldt University.

1931-02-01 00:00:00

Life in Berlin

Mildred participates in activities with the American Women's Club (president), the Berlin chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (secretary) and the American Church; she maintains contact with the family of her husband's uncle, Adolf von Harnack, and his relatives (Delbrück, Bonhoeffer, von Dohnanyi).

1932-01-01 00:00:00

"The Moon and the Saxophone"

Mildred's creative writing, "The Moon and the Saxophone" about her days in Madison.

1932-05-01 00:00:00

Out of Work

By May 1932, she loses her teaching position due to the fact that she was both a woman and a foreigner and not “Nazi enough”.

1932-08-19 00:00:00

All Things Soviet

WATCH VIDEO - Mildred, like many intellectuals around the world, was fascinated by life in the Soviet Union.

1932-11-01 00:00:00

FDR elected president

AUDIO - Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected president in a landslide, defeating Herbert Hoover by 7 million votes just four months after the Dow Jones Industrial Average had reached its lowest level of the Great Depression. FDR's first inaugural speech on March 4, 1933 includes, "... let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

1933-01-30 00:00:00

Hitler Comes to Power

WATCH VIDEO - German President Paul von Hindenburg appoints Adolf Hitler Chancellor and sets the stage for the emergence of Nazi Germany.

1933-02-20 00:00:00

Mildred's Work

In order to continue working, Mildred joined the National Socialist teachers; organization in name only in 1933.

1933-02-28 00:00:00

Reichstag Fire Decree

An arson attack on the Reichstag (Germany’s capitol building) takes place in Berlin on February 27, 1933.

1933-03-23 00:00:00

The Enabling Act

The Enabling Act was passed by Germany's Reichstag and signed by President Paul von Hindenburg on March 23rd, 1933.

1934-08-02 00:00:00

Paul von Hindenburg dies

The German president’s death removes the last impediment to Adolf Hitler consolidating all power in a single office.

1934-09-30 00:00:00

On the Move

WATCH VIDEO - In 1934 the Harnack’s lived just down the street from a political prison camp known as Columbia House.

1936-01-01 00:00:00


Mildred writes about her courtship with Arvid, using his middle name Rudolf.

1936-11-03 00:00:00

FDR wins second term

Franklin D. Roosevelt is re-elected President, defeating Alfred M. Landon of Kansas.

1937-01-22 00:00:00

US Ambassador William Dodd

In Berlin, Ambassador William Dodd writes a letter of support for Mildred's lecture tour.

1937-03-01 00:00:00

School Days

WATCH VIDEO - During her first trip back to the United States in 1937 Mildred visited her brother Marbeau in Evansville, Wisconsin and her nephew Howard Fish never forgot what his Aunt Mildred did.

1938-05-24 00:00:00

Treasury Department Visa

The U.S. Treasury Department files show a visa application from Arvid Harnack to visit the US along with other members of the German Economics Ministry.

Wisconsin's Nazi Resistance: The Mildred Fish-Harnack Story

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