All The Frequent Troubles of Our Days by Rebecca Donner is the true story of an American woman in the German resistance in Nazi-ruled Germany. Mildred Harnack was 26 when her PhD studies took her to Berlin. From 1932, a small band of activists started holding secret meetings in her apartment. This group grew into a significant underground force that opposed the Nazi regime, eventually catching the attention of Hitler himself.
The story of Mildred’s rise as a force of opposition to Nazi rule is as amazing as it is tragic. This Wisconsin woman turned activist, revolutionary, and spy during the Second World War was ambushed by the Gestapo as she tried to escape to Sweden. Hitler personally ordered her execution by guillotine, and she was beheaded in 1943. Harnack was a brave idealist who died for her beliefs.
Donner’s book pieces together clips from letters, journals, newspapers, notes, pictures, flyers, and government forms to give us insight into the life of a remarkable woman, the only American in a position of leadership in the German resistance, at a time when Nazi brutality cast a shadow over the world.
We learn how quickly a vibrant society can be destroyed by dictators.
The book highlights how important it is to hold onto our ethics and morals, even in the most troubled times. I was reminded how important courage is when standing up against repression of any kind, a crucial warning in today’s world.
It’s an excellent read, and I highly recommend it.