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The Only American Killed on Direct Orders of Hitler

By Ellie Gettinger, Education Director

The only American killed on direct orders of Hitler.

Today is Mildred Fish Harnack Day in Wisconsin.  You might say, “Who?” But the Wisconsin Legislature recognized her as a hero and designated her birthday as an official commemoration. 

She was born in Milwaukee, went to UW-Madison where she met her husband Arvid.  Arvid was a German student and in 1929, she immigrated to Germany to be with him. 

Both Mildred and Arvid were part of the German resistance and both were killed for their actions.  Mildred was initially only sentenced to hard labor, but Hitler had her sentence reviewed and she was executed in February 1943.

In addition to her resistance work, Mildred was a noted translator, teacher and writer.  She is yet another example of the talent lost in the Holocaust and World War II. 

For more information about Mildred Fish Harnack, explore our exhibit guide or check out this documentary from Wisconsin Public Television.