Fittko, Lisa. Escape through the Pyrenees (Northwestern University Press, 1991).
Fittko's book is a memoir of life as an "enemy alien" in France before and after the Nazi invasion of 1940. As a Jewish leftist reared in Berlin, Fittko and her husband Hans fled Germany in 1933 to apparent safety in France. German emigres were regarded as grave political threats, however, and they were rounded up and isolated in concentration camps in France. Fittko experienced the hunger, disease, and chaos of the Gurs camp. As Hitler's army swept through France, she and several comrades escaped. She was reunited with her husband at the foot of the Pyrenees. They made their way out of the country through a tortuous mountain pass. They also guided other refugees to safety. The book is illustrated with historical documents and original photographs (not seen). Although the story is unique and heroic, the prose is acceptable at best and often difficult to follow. (Susan Dearstyne, Schenectady City Community College for Publisher's Weekly)
Marseilles, France....August, 1940 The Gestapo's blacklist was thousands of names long...How many people could he get out before Hitler sealed the frontiers? Varian Fry didn't know any more about being an undercover agent than what he'd seen in the movies. But, he was the one man who could get into Vichy France, where thousands of people had fled Hitler's Germany. Unless he could get them out, they'd be trapped-turned back to the concentration camps and death camps. An exciting, true story of World War II - Varian Fry describes the methods he used to get thousands of hunted men and women to safety.
Fry, Varian. Surrender on Demand (Johnson Books, 1997).
Like Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg, Varian Fry risked his life to rescue those targeted by the Gestapo in "the most gigantic man-trap in history." Now, more than fifty years later, the story of this neglected American hero is back in print.
Varian Fry, a young editor from New York, traveled to Marseilles after Germany defeated France in the summer of 1940. As the representative of the Emergency Rescue Committee, a private American relief organization, he offered aid and advice to refugees who found themselves threatened with extradition to Nazi Germany under Article 19 of the Franco-German armistice—the "Surrender on Demand" clause.
Working day and night in opposition to French and even American authorities, Fry assembled an unlikely band of associates and built an elaborate rescue network. By the time Fry left France after 13 months, he and his colleagues had managed to spirit more than 1,500 people from France, among them some of Europe’s most prominent politicians, artists, writers, scientists, and musicians. Their arrival in the United States significantly expanded the intellectual exodus from Europe that began when Hitler came to power, and permanently changed the face of American culture.
Isenberg, Sheila. A Hero of Our Own: the Story of Varian Fry (Random House, 2001).
In 1940, a young Harvard-educated American named Varian Fry, inexperienced and not at all certain that he possessed any courage, went on a secret mission to Marseille. There, with only three thousand dollars and a list of names, he was to help those who had fled Nazi Germany and were now trapped in southern France.
The list he took with him had been prepared by, among others, the Museum of Modern Art and Eleanor Roosevelt. It included most of the premier writers, painters, and scientists of Europe, many of them Jews?people like Marc Chagall and Max Ernst, Jacques Lipchitz, Marcel Duchamp, Hannah Arendt, Franz Werfel, André Breton, André Masson, and other sur- realists, and hundreds more. When Fry witnessed their plight, he became determined not just to give them immediate aid but to find ways for them to escape. Slowly he built up a group of people who could help, forging passports and finding secret paths across the Pyrenees into Spain and then to Lisbon.
Fry himself was constantly in great danger, but he seemed to experience a divine inspiration, achieving greatness and glimpsing immortality by acting as the hero he never thought he could be. His own government tried again and again to stop him and send him home, but he managed to continue his rescue operations for more than a year. Only in the past decade has the world begun to honor Fry, who died in 1967. He is, for instance, the only American honored at Israel?s Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, as one of the ?Righteous Among the Nations.?
Using letters and records unavailable to anyone else, as well as interviews with numerous survivors, Sheila Isenberg has given us an inspiring story of how the brave and determined actions of one individual can help change the world.
Marino, Andy. A Quiet American: the Secret War of Varian Fry (St. Martin's Press, 1999).
The story of Varian Fry, called the "real Rick" of Casablanca, is perhaps one of the most unknown, yet extraordinary sagas of World War II. This penetrating biography follows Varian Fry through his adult life--from his beginnings in the 1930s as a Harvard graduate and political journalist to his arrival in Marseille in 1940 where he managed to spirit away thousands of Europe's cultural elite by falsifying passports, creating new identities, and always resorting to subterfuge.
The list of those saved includes: Hannah Arendt, Andre Breton, Franz Werful and his wife Alma Mahler, Heinrich Mann, Marc Chagall, Jacques Lipchitz, Andre Masson, and Max Ernst among others. A Quiet American is an effort to extensively examine the life of a genuine American hero whose political and cultural influence is still largely unacknowledged.
Meyerhof, Walter. In the Shadow of Love, Stories from my Life. (Fithiam Press. 2002).
Walter Meyerhof was born in 1922 and was raised in Germany. His roots were Jewish, but he and his siblings attended the Lutheran church. His father was a prominent physiologist who won the Nobel Prize the year that Walter was born. As he grew, Walter too became interested in science, but the one he chose—or the science that chose him—was physics, a passion that would last a lifetime. Now a professor emeritus at Stanford University, he still has the microscope his parents gave him as a boy. He describes that instrument with the same respect and awe as he feels for the two-mile-long linear accelerator in the Stanford hills.
That microscope is one of several "artifacts" that have inspired the reminiscences in In the Shadow of Love—Stories From My Life, a warm collection of autobiographical essays. A photograph of his mother, his father’s pocketwatch, letters written in haste…these all serve to bring the author’s memories into focus. What unfolds in these pages is a long life full of wonder, danger, hard work, love, and accomplishment.
Growing up in Germany during those years was not easy for a young man with a Jewish "background." Walter Meyerhof and his family experienced the growth of Nazi bullying, until finally they left for friendlier countries. Walter became a student in France, but then France too fell under the shadow of Nazi occupation. Part of the book tells of the Foreign Workers Camp where he had to put in his time, and of his eventual escape to Portugal, a hair-raising adventure of lost and faked documents, near capture, and the heroic and generous help of an American named Varian Fry, who helped many refugees escape Vichy France. By the time Walter was able to join his parents in Philadelphia, he had already been through more danger than most men face in a lifetime.
His years in America were devoted to academic accomplishment and to learning about life as a young man. He delicately and respectfully recounts a couple of his romances. Then, in the summer of 1947, he took a trip to England, and met a young woman named Miriam. They’d actually met as teenagers; she had called him a "dumb ape" when he asked to go out with her. But this time love took over, and the couple was engaged within a matter of weeks. That love affair has lasted more than fifty years.
Now Walter Meyerhof is retired, after a forty-three-year career as a Professor of Physics at Stanford University. He is co-directing the Varian Fry Foundation Project to educate the young about Fry. And he’s writing the stories of his life. In the Shadow of Love leaves us with the fond impression of an elderly man who takes walks and stops to have conversations with an elderly dog named Sam. Sam is a good listener, and Walter Meyerhof is a good storyteller.
American National Biography Online series is an exploration of American history through the lives of the men & women who shaped the nation.
U.S. Consulate, Marseille, France, 1940 (photo by Dr. Hans Cahnmann)
And Crown Thy Good: And Crown Thy Good (2010), Director: Pierre Sauvage, Running time: Not known.
Varian Fry (1907-1967) was a New York intellectual who after the fall of France to the Nazis spent a year in the Southern port city of Marseille leading one of the most remarkable and successful rescue efforts of the Nazi era. Defying the Nazis, the French Vichy regime, and his own government, Fry, a dapper, 32 year-old intellectual, led a unique mission that helped to save some 2,000 artists, intellectuals, and anti-Nazi refugees, Jewish and non-Jewish. He was the first American to be singled out by Israel's Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem as a Righteous Among the Nations.
An extended overview of the Fry mission and why it matters is available at Varian Fry in Marseille. As the feature documentary will underscore, Varian Fry did not work alone. And Crown Thy Goodis a production of the Varian Fry Institute, a division of the Chambon Foundation, a nonprofit foundation committed to documentary exploration of the Holocaust—and especially of those necessary and challenging lessons of hope intertwined with the unavoidable lessons of despair.
Varian's War (2001), Director: Lionel Chetwynd, Running time: 121 minutes
This is the untold story of Varian Fry (William Hurt), a forgotten hero of World War II. He built an elaborate underground rescue network that managed to save some of the most influential cultural figures of our age. He saved artists (such as Marc Chagall), writers, and scientists. The safe arrival of these treasured individuals in the United States permanently changed the face of American culture and enriched all of our lives forever.