By Varian Fry
Like Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg, Varian Fry risked his lifestyles to rescue these detailed by means of the Gestapo in "the such a lot big man-trap in history." Now, greater than fifty years later, the tale of this ignored American hero is again in print. Varian Fry, a tender editor from manhattan, traveled to Marseilles after Germany defeated France in the summertime of 1940. because the consultant of the Emergency Rescue Committee, a personal American aid association, he provided reduction and suggestion to refugees who stumbled on themselves threatened with extradition to Nazi Germany below Article 19 of the Franco-German armistice—the "Surrender on call for" clause. operating day and evening towards French or even American specialists, Fry assembled an not going band of co-workers and equipped an complex rescue community. by the point Fry left France after thirteen months, he and his colleagues had controlled to spirit greater than 1,500 humans from France, between them a few of Europe’s such a lot favorite politicians, artists, writers, scientists, and musicians. Their arrival within the usa considerably extended the highbrow exodus from Europe that started while Hitler got here to strength, and completely replaced the face of yankee tradition.
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We had dinner at Basso's, a large and expensive restaurant on the Vieux Port. All during dinner the Werfels talked about the horrors of the retreat. After dinner we went back to the hotel, where they insisted on ordering a bottle of champagne. Over the champagne we discussed ways of escaping from France. I explained that I had just arrived and hadn't yet had time to find out what the possibilities were. They had heard of refugees going down to the frontier and getting over safely, but they didn't know what happened to them in Spain.
I had not always agreed with their ideas or their methods, but I knew when I saw those housing projects that their hearts were in the right place. Finally, I knew, from first-hand experience, what defeat at the hands of Hitler could mean. In 1935 I visited Germany and tasted the atmosphere of oppression which the Hitler regime had brought. I talked to many anti-Nazis and Jews, shared their anxiety and their sense of helplessness, felt with them the tragic hopelessness of their situation. And while I was in Berlin I witnessed on the Kurfuerstendamm the first great pogrom against the Jews, saw with my own eyes young Nazi toughs gather and smash up Jewish-owned cafés, watched with horror as they dragged Jewish patrons from their seats, drove hysterical, crying women down the street, knocked over an elderly man and kicked him in the face.
Copyright © renewed 1972 by Sylvia Fry and James Fry. Revisions copyright © 1977 by Sylvia Fry and James Fry. Afterword and photo captions copyright © 1997 by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Published in conjunction with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.