• Mildred Harnack: Biography of the German resistance spy
  • Rebecca Donner’s book: The Frequent Darkness of Our Days
  • Mildred Harnack’s role in the anti-Nazi movement in Berlin
  • The story of a forgotten hero who defied Hitler: Mildred Harnack
  • Mildred Harnack’s sacrifice and courage against Nazi oppression

Mildred Harnack: the story of the spy who defied Hitler from the German resistance.

In the pages of “The frequent darkness of our days”, Rebecca Donner rescues the testimony of this woman forgotten by official history and achieves a highly aesthetic piece.

Born and raised in the United States, Mildred Harnack was studying for a doctorate in Germany and witnessed the rise of the Nazi Party. In 1932, together with her husband Arvid Harnack, she started an underground group that, by 1940, had become the most prominent anti-Nazi movement in Berlin.

Mildred recruited new members, helped Jews escape, planned acts of sabotage and, after the outbreak of World War II, did not hesitate to become a spy for the Allies.

She was discovered and sentenced to six years in a concentration camp. But the story did not end there, as Adolf Hitler himself ordered her execution.

Mildred Harnack was confined to a gloomy cell in the Charlottenburg women’s prison on Berlin’s Kantstrasse. For more than three harrowing months, every dawn saw her depart in a gloomy police van for the Gestapo barracks. Walter Habecker, a ruthless man, took on the cruel role of subjecting her to merciless interrogations, while Hermann Göring, an unscrupulous prosecutor, supervised the summary trial that sentenced her to six years’ imprisonment in a concentration camp.

Statements obtained under torture were considered sufficient evidence to find Mildred Harnack guilty of treason. Surprisingly, however, Hitler commuted the sentence and instead issued the execution order. So it was that on February 16, 1943, in the dreary Plötzensee prison in Berlin, Mildred Harnack was led before a guillotine. Bound and without any hope of redemption, she faced her tragic fate as her life was brutally cut short in one swift stroke.

In the pages of The Frequent Darkness of Our Days, Canadian writer Rebecca Donner, a direct descendant of Mildred Harnack, fuses elements of novel, biography and thriller to present us with a gripping story that, through exhaustive research backed by letters, diaries, secret documents and survivor testimonies, plunges us into the grim decline of Hitler’s Germany and unravels the intricacies of the underground struggle. It also offers an intimate and moving portrait of an enigmatic woman who has been unjustly forgotten by official history.

This book, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, brings us face to face with the courage and sacrifice of Mildred Harnack, a figure who defied oppression and tyranny in pursuit of freedom.

With a captivating narrative and meticulous research, Rebecca Donner rescues this heroine from oblivion, paying homage to her courage and commitment in the struggle against Nazi barbarism, but above all achieving a fascinating story that, by far, takes all our attention for its aesthetic fierceness.

Donner, born in Vancouver, Canada, in 1971, has published two notable works. Her first novel, Sunset Terrace (2003), captured readers’ attention with its immersive narrative and memorable characters. Then, he surprised with the publication of the graphic novel Burnout (2008).

However, it was with her third book, The Frequent Darkness of Our Days (2021; Asteroid Books, 2023), that Rebecca Donner reached the pinnacle of literary success. Recognized with the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography and the Chautauqua Prize, she was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and this novel established the author as one of the leading voices of her generation.

In 2022, she received a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, and currently serves as a visiting professor at Oxford University, sharing her passion for writing and enriching the academic world with her unique vision.

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