Did you know that an American raised in Milwaukee and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin was a resistance fighter in Germany during WWII? I didn’t and I live in Wisconsin! Mildred Fish meets and falls in love with Arvid Harnack while they attend college at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Mildred leaves Wisconsin to journey to Germany as Arvid’s wife and she hopes to continue her education in Berlin. As she lives in Germany through the 1930’s and during WWII, she sees the country fall under Hitler’s spell. Will she be able to help the many Germans who do not follow Hitler’s views?
Greta was a friend of Mildred and Arvid’s at the University of Wisconsin. When she returns to her homeland of Germany, she is dismayed to see the changes that are taking place. She falls in love with a married man, is involved with the theatre, and helps the resistance as she can.
Sara is a young Jewish woman in love with a non-Jewish man. She is a student of Mildred’s and gets to know everyone in the resistance movement. Will she be able to keep her love alive and will her family be able to stay in Nazi Germany?
Martha Dodd is the daughter of the American ambassador to Germany during the 1930’s. At first, she is entranced by the Nazi cause, but she soon finds herself disillusioned.
My favorite part of this novel was the author’s note at the end where I found out that almost everyone in this novel is real! I knew that Martha Dodd was real, but I didn’t realize that Mildred Harnack and Greta Kuckhoff were real women in the resistance movement. I found their true stories to be fascinating. I hope that they get a more prominent place in history.
As a resident of Wisconsin, I enjoyed the many shout outs to the University of Wisconsin and Wisconsin in general. Even more so when I realized they were real historic figures. I grew up in Michigan and I missed learning about Mildred Harnack.
I also liked that the novel showed the changes over time as Hitler took over the country and it fell under his sway. I was disturbed on how much of this paralleled today’s society where a charismatic leader takes over and people believe everything he has to say, even if it is false.
I will be honest; this book did move slow for me. I found it all very interesting, but with four main characters and the action taking place over 10 to 15 years, it dragged at time for me. I think the addition of Martha’s fourth narrative into the book slowed it down a lot. The resistance seemed to focus more on the friends talking and Arvid moving around papers and information. Mildred did help several Jewish people escape from Germany. I wanted more detail on that!! The book had a wide scope and I know it must have been hard to write about true people. I actually enjoyed the story of Sara the most and she was the one fictional character. The action picked up the last part of the novel during the war and I enjoyed it.
“Some fires burned themselves out only after consuming everything within reach of the flames.”
“Scapegoating Jews – or Communists, Poles, women, immigrants – was the refuge of the lazy, envious, and unimaginative. It made the world an ugly, hostile place to live in and did nothing to solve any actual problems.”
“Where they burn books, in the end they will also burn people.”
“How could they flee? How could they abandon Germany to evil men who were determined to destroy everything good about it?”
Overall, Resistance Women is a great look at the real-life story of women who worked within Germany try to over throw the Nazi’s.
Book Source: Review Copy as part of the TLC Book Tour. Thank-you! For more stops on the tour check out this link.
About Resistance Women• Hardcover: 608 pages • Publisher: William Morrow (May 14, 2019)
From the New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, an enthralling historical saga that recreates the danger, romance, and sacrifice of an era and brings to life one courageous, passionate American—Mildred Fish Harnack—and her circle of women friends who waged a clandestine battle against Hitler in Nazi Berlin.
After Wisconsin graduate student Mildred Fish marries brilliant German economist Arvid Harnack, she accompanies him to his German homeland, where a promising future awaits. In the thriving intellectual culture of 1930s Berlin, the newlyweds create a rich new life filled with love, friendships, and rewarding work—but the rise of a malevolent new political faction inexorably changes their fate.
As Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party wield violence and lies to seize power, Mildred, Arvid, and their friends resolve to resist. Mildred gathers intelligence for her American contacts, including Martha Dodd, the vivacious and very modern daughter of the US ambassador. Her German friends, aspiring author Greta Kuckoff and literature student Sara Weitz, risk their lives to collect information from journalists, military officers, and officials within the highest levels of the Nazi regime.
For years, Mildred’s network stealthily fights to bring down the Third Reich from within. But when Nazi radio operatives detect an errant Russian signal, the Harnack resistance cell is exposed, with fatal consequences.
Inspired by actual events, Resistance Women is an enthralling, unforgettable story of ordinary people determined to resist the rise of evil, sacrificing their own lives and liberty to fight injustice and defend the oppressed.