Wednesday, August 18, 2010

American Schindler’ helped 4,000 Jews escape the Nazis

From the Telegraph

Those saved by Varian Fry, known as the American Oskar Schindler, include Marc Chagall, the Jewish French-Russian artist, Claude Levi-Strauss, the French anthropologist, and surrealist artist, Marcel Duchamp.

But while Schindler, a German Industrialist, has been internationally recognized for saving an estimated 1,200 Jews - his story was made into the 1993 film Schindler’s List, directed by Steven Spielberg - the full extent of Fry’s heroic efforts is only now coming to light.


The passenger lists of ships bound for New York from Europe have revealed the true extent of his work with the French Resistance during the Second World War to smuggle Jews out of Nazi occupied territory.

A Harvard Classical scholar, who had covered Hitler’s rise to power before the outbreak of war for an American newspaper, Fry returned to New York and dedicated himself to raising funds to help persecuted Jews escape to America.

Fry arrived in the French port with a chequebook and a list of 200 intellectuals deemed at greatest risk from the Gestapo. He spent a year fighting bureaucracy to bring them, their families and several thousand other Jews to start a new life in America.

The list of those he saved has been traced through historical records published on the family history website Ancestry.co.uk.

Fry, who died in 1967, a month before his 60th birthday, was posthumously named 'Righteous Among Nations’ in 1995 by Yad Vasham, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial, the first American to be awarded the honour reserved for those non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazis.

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