Resisting Hitler : Mildred Harnack and the Red Orchestra: Mildred Harnack and the Red Orchestra (Google eBook)
This gripping and heartbreaking narrative is the first full account of an American woman who gave her life in the struggle against the Nazi regime. As members of a key resistance group, Mildred and her husband, Arvid Harnack, assisted in the escape of German Jews and political dissidents, and for years provided vital economic and military intelligence to both Washington and Moscow. But in 1942, following a Soviet blunder, the Gestapo arrested, tortured and tried some four score members of the Harnack's group, which the Nazis dubbed the Red Orchestra. Mildred Fish-Harnack was guillotined in Berlin on February 16, 1943, on the personal instruction of Adolf Hitler--the only American woman executed as an underground conspirator. Yet as World War II ended and the Cold War began, her courage, idealism and self-sacrifice went largely unacknowledged in America and the democratic West, and were distorted and sanitized in the Communist East. Only now, with the opening of long-sealed archives, can the full story be told. Resisting Hitler is based on extensive interviews with Fish-Harnack family, friends and associates; it draws on personal correspondence and formerly classified German and Soviet KGB files and recently released CIA and FBI dossiers. It describes the life of a Wisconsin girl whose intelligence and beauty captivated a visiting scholar, Arvid Harnack, a member of a distinguished German academic family. It explores for the first time the complex familial connections of the Harnacks, Delbrucks and Bonhoeffers, twelve of whom were executed for resistance acts. And it details Mildred's friendship with Martha Dodd, daughter of FDR's ambassador to the Third Reich, whose affair with a Soviet diplomat led to his death. Moments before her death, Mildred said, "I have loved Germany so much." In this superbly told life of an unjustly forgotten woman, Shareen Blair Brysac depicts the human side of a controversial resistance group that for too long has been portrayed as merely a Soviet espionage network. The extraordinary story of Mildred Fish-Harnack's ten dramatic years of resisting the Nazi regime also reminds today's readers of the hard moral choices that beset opponents of a ruthless totalitarian dictatorship.
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More than just Resistance, July 6, 2003
A first class research by Brysac finally puts to rest the conflicting histories of the Red Orchestra (Rotte Kapella): the white-washing done by the FDR (former Federal Republic of Germany) vs. the pro-communist embellishments of the DDR (former East Germany).
The author's exhaustive research (de-classified Stasi and KGB archives, interviews with survivors, US Army documents) finally does justice to the only American in the German Resistance who was executed (Mildred Fish-Harnack) and also allows the readers to reach a balanced view about who the Red Orchestra was.
The reader will also become acquainted with how life was in Germany (particularly Berlin) during the 30's and early 40's through the lives of Mildred Fish-Harnack and her husband Arvid Harnack. Since the Harnacks were highly educated, came from esteemed families, and had influential friends in elitist Berlin society the reader also gets a glimpse of how divergent the views of various Germans and Americans were towards the Berlin regime.
In conclusion, it is sad to see how a heroic German-American (Mildred Fish-Harnack) and an independent thinking German intellectual (Arvid Harnack) who spoke-out against, resisted, and even sabotaged the evil regime of Hitler met such a drastic end due to the follies and reckless acts of Stalin's regime.
I wish there were more history books like this one written out there:
* impeccable research
* excellent prose (and thus easy to read)
* great lessons to draw about WWII, society, economy, and contemporary events.
Its astonishing that, as a direct descendant of mildred fish-harnack, I never knew about my great great aunt untill recently. It is sad that I met her through a book, but I am grateful to the author for his interest in such a wonderful womans life. I am deeply proud to know that I am the direct blood of such selfless bravery and sacrifice, and I think that her story needs to reach more people. She did so much. And yet we tend to forget the people who helped mold our world into what it is today. This book is incredible. and not just because I have a closer tie to mildred harnack. It would touch my heart and challenge my moral fiber had I not know that. read this book. her story needs to be known.
The Woman in Cell 25
Epilogue A Life in the Files
GLOSSARY AND ABBREVIATIONS