Stolperstein Ceremony Commemorates Mildred Fish-Harnack and Husband Arvid Harnack

Photo of Stolperstein ceremony
At the Stolperstein ceremony

U.S. Ambassador John Emerson participated in a Stolperstein ceremony commemorating American born resistance fighter Mildred Fish-Harnack and her husband Arvid Harnack, both victims of the Third Reich.

In the presence of members of the family- including Jilly Allenby-Ryan and her sister Nicole Hutchings, both grandchildren of Arvid Harnack’s sister, Inge Harnack – Berlin artist Gunter Demnig installed two commemorative Stolpersteine in the pavement in front of Genthiner Straße 14, the family’s last address of choice.

Other speakers at the ceremony included André Schmitz, Permanent Secretary for Cultural Affairs of Berlin; Professor Johannes Tuchel, Executive Director of the German Resistance Memorial Center in Berlin; and Joel Waldinger, an award-winning American journalist, who produced the documentary “Wisconsin’s Nazi Resistance:  The Mildred Fish Harnack Story” for Wisconsin Public Television in 2011.

Mildred Fish-Harnack, an American literary historian and graduate of the University of Wisconsin, married Arvid Harnack, a young German graduate student, and returned with him to Germany in 1929.  Alarmed by the rise of Hitler and the Nazis during the 1930s, the Harnacks, along with other like-minded individuals, joined a resistance group that became known as the “Red Orchestra.” Arvid Harnack was arrested in 1942 and executed; Mildred Fish-Harnack was guillotined on February 16, 1943, the only American civilian to be executed on the direct order of Hitler.  In 1986, the Wisconsin State Legislature designated her birth date, September 16, as “Mildred Harnack Day” across Wisconsin.