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Jewish Museum Milwaukee to Open Exhibit on Wisconsin Hero of the Resistance

                                              Jewish Museum to Open Exhibit

on Wisconsin Hero of the Resistance


Milwaukee-- On August 7 the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, located at 1360 N. Prospect Avenue, will open a new exhibit detailing the life and work of native Milwaukeean Mildred Fish Harnack (1902 – 1943), the only American woman executed on direct orders of Hitler.  Mildred Fish Harnack: The Story of a Wisconsin Woman’s Resistance will run through November 27, 2011.


Harnack was a scholar and educator; raised and educated on Milwaukee’s West Side, she attended theUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison where she met and married Arvid Harnack, a Rockefeller Fellow fromGermany.  Mildred taught literature in Madisonand at several German universities following a 1929 move to Germany with Arvid, whose family at the time was one of the most prominent in the country.  The couple maintained close ties to the U.S. Embassy, and as the Nazis rose to power, Mildred continued to teach Germans literature typifying progressive American values.  Together with Arvid and others, Mildred actively worked in opposition to the Nazi regime as a key member of the resistance group known as the “Red Orchestra,” a code name assigned by the Gestapo.


In the fall of 1942 the secret police arrested more than 100 resistance fighters including Mildred and Arvid Harnack.  He was executed, and though she was originally imprisoned, Hitler himself intervened and sent her to the guillotine in February, 1943.


Special programming in connection with the Mildred Fish Harnack exhibit will include:

  • Open House for Teachers, August 11, 9 am – 12 noon
  • Exhibit Opening Event, August 28, 12 noon
  • Lecture by Shareen Blair Brysac, author of Resisting Hitler:  Mildred Harnack and the Red Orchestra, September 8, 7 pm
  • Premiere and discussion of Wisconsin Public Television documentary, Wisconsin’s Nazi Resistance,  October 6, 7 pm.


The exhibit is co-sponsored by the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center.  Support is provided by the Jane Bradley Pettit Foundation and Rudolph & Helga Kadan Fund, and the exhibit is funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the State ofWisconsin.


For information on these programs and events, call 414-390-5730 or visit the Museum’s website at   Jewish Museum Milwaukee, a department of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, tells the story of the Jewish people inMilwaukee through interactive exhibits, films, photos and videos.


1360 North Prospect Avenue,Milwaukee,WI53202-3094| Phone: 414-390-5700 | Fax: 414-390-5782

Jerry Benjamin, President | Richard H. Meyer, Executive Vice President