- Category : 1902-births
- Type : GE
- Profile : 1/3 - Investigating / Martyr
- Definition : Split - Small (34,40,50)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Eden 3
American-German literary historian, translator, and German Resistance fighter in Nazi Germany. She was the only American woman executed on the orders of Adolf Hitler.
She married jurist Arvid Harnack, a Rockefeller Fellow from Germany, in a ceremony at her brother's farm near the village of Brooklyn, Wisconsin. In 1929, she and her husband moved to Germany, where she worked on her doctorate at the University of Giessen. In 1930 she moved from Giessen to Berlin to be with her husband, and to study at the University of Berlin on a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. She worked as an assistant lecturer (English and American literature and language) and a translator.
It was during her time in Berlin that Fish-Harnack became interested in the Soviet Union and communism, seeing them as a solution to poverty. In 1932, she toured the Soviet Union with her husband and leading academics.
In 1936, her German translation of Irving Stone's biography of Vincent van Gogh, Lust for Life, was published. She continued to work as a translator for various publishing houses.
Together with her husband Arvid, the writer Adam Kuckhoff and his wife Greta, Fish-Harnack brought together a discussion circle which debated political perspectives on the time after the National Socialists' (Nazis') expected downfall or overthrow. From these meetings arose what the Gestapo called the Red Orchestra (Rote Kapelle) resistance group. In 1940–1941, the group was in contact with Soviet agents, trying to thwart the forthcoming German attack upon the Soviet Union.
On 7 September 1942, Arvid Harnack and Mildred Fish-Harnack were arrested by the Gestapo while on a weekend outing. Arvid Harnack was sentenced to death on 19 December after a four-day trial before the Reichskriegsgericht ("Reich Military Tribunal"), and was put to death three days later at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin.
Mildred Fish-Harnack was initially given six years in prison, but Hitler refused to endorse the sentence and ordered a new trial, which ended with a sentence of death on 16 January 1943. She was beheaded on 16 February 1943. Her last words were purported to have been: "Ich habe Deutschland auch so geliebt" ("I loved Germany so much as well").