Varian Fry

From Academic Kids

Varian Mackey Fry (October 15, 1907September 13, 1967) was a New York-born, Hotchkiss School and Harvard University educated, American journalist who ran a rescue network in Vichy France that helped approximately 2,000 to 4,000 anti-Nazi and Jewish refugees to escape the Nazis.

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Varian Fry

While working as a foreign correspondent for the American journal The Living Age, Varian Fry visited Berlin, Germany in 1935 and personally witnessed Nazi savagery against Jews on more than one occasion. Greatly disturbed by what he saw, he helped raise money to support European anti-Nazi movements. Following the occupation of France, he went to Marseille in an effort to help persons wishing to flee the Nazis. Beginning in 1940, in Marseille, France, despite the watchful eye of the collaborationist Vichy regime, he and a small group of volunteers hid people at the Villa Air-Bel until they could be smuggled out. More than 2,200 people were taken across the border to the safety of neutral Portugal from which they made their way to the United States. Others he helped escape on ships leaving Marseille for the French colony of Martinique from which they could go to the United States. Among Fry's closest associates were Americans Miriam Davenport, a former art student at the Sorbonne, and the beautiful U.S. heiress, Mary Jayne Gold, a lover of the arts and the "good life" who had come to Paris in the early 1930s. When the Nazis seized France in 1940, Gold went to Marseille, where she worked with Fry and helped finance his operation.

Among those Fry aided were the following:

Back home in the States, in 1945 Fry's book about his time in France was published under the title, Surrender on Demand. In 1968, the US publisher Scholastic (which, as implied by its name, markets mainly to children and adolescents) published a paperback edition under the title Assignment: Rescue, and subsequent reprints have appeared under both of the above titles. He wrote and spoke critically against U.S. immigration policies particularly relating to the issue of the fate of Jews in Europe. In a December 1942 issue of the New Republic, he wrote a scathing article titled: "The Massacre of Jews in Europe."

In 1967, the government of France recognized his heroic contribution to freedom with the Legion of Honor. Beyond that, he was basically forgotten in life and death until recent years when his deeds began to be recognized after Mary Jayne Gold's 1980 book titled Crossroads Marseilles 1940, sparked an interest in Fry and his heroic efforts. Now being called the "American Schindler," in 1995 Varian Fry became the first and only United States citizen to join Raoul Wallenberg and Oskar Schindler among the gentiles designated as "Righteous Among the Nations" at Israel's national Holocaust Memorial, Yad Vashem. He was awarded the additional honor of "Commemorative Citizenship of the State of Israel" on January 1, 1998. Also Varain Fry wrote a rough draft of the book "Surrender on Demand".

On the initiative of Samuel V. Brock, the U.S. Consul General in Marseilles from 1999 to 2002, the square in front of the Consulate was renamed "Place Varian Fry."

In 1997 Irish film director David Kerr made a documentary called Varian Fry: The Artists' Schindler that was narrated by actor Sean Barrett.

Varian Fry's story was also told in dramatic form on film in 2001 when American entertainer Barbra Streisand co-produced the made-for-television motion picture, Varian's War written and directed by Lionel Chetwynd and starring William Hurt and Julia Ormond.


External links

pl:Varian Fry


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