Varian Fry, a 32 year old Harvard-educated classicist and editor from New York City, helped save thousands of endangered refugees who were caught in the Vichy French zone escape from Nazi terror during World War II. Yet this man, known as "the American Schindler," died in obscurity, without recognition, and having been reprimanded by the US government for his actions.
Despite having had no training in underground work and no knowledge of forgers, black marketeers, or secret passages, Fry within 24 hours after his arrival in France committed himself to a mission that saved prominent persons such as artists Marc Chagall and Max Ernst, writer Hannah Arendt, and sculptor Jacques Lipchitz.
Fry said, "I stayed because the refugees needed me. But it took courage, and courage is a quality that I hadn't previously been sure I possessed." This man who found the courage to save some of Europe's greatest artists, writers and thinkers remained unrecognized by his countrymen and unacknowledged by his country until recently.
In 1991, 50 years after his courageous actions in France saved thousands of innocent lives and 24 years after his death, Fry received his first official recognition from a United States agency, the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. In 1996, Varian Mackey Fry was named as "Righteous Among the Nations" by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Heros and Martyrs Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem -- the first American recipient of Israel's highest honor for rescuers during the Holocaust, an honor also received by Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg.
It was in part thanks to the Nazis' dependence on the military optics that Leitz's factory produced, as well as their belief in the importance of the Leica camera for their propaganda purposes, that he was able to succeed in his plan to spirit Jewish workers and their families out of Germany. Many times the Gestapo turned a blind eye to what Leitz was doing, so important was it to them that production at the plant continued.
"He was able to act in the way he did because the Nazis needed our factory for their military production," Günther Leitz said. "But no one can ever know what other Germans had done for the persecuted within the limits of their ability to act."
And so his story might have been forgotten were it not for the doggedness of the rabbi. He first came across Leitz's story as a student in a brief mention of the refugees in a photography magazine.
The most complete biography of the Leica refugees belongs to camera mechanic Kurt Rosenberg. There is evidence that Leitz paid for his journey to New York in 1938 and got him a post at the Leica showroom on Fifth Avenue. As with other workers, he helped him get a visa. He also provided them with a Leica as financial security because it could be easily exchanged for cash.
Leitz's transports only ended in 1939 when, following Hitler's invasion of Poland, Germany's borders were closed.
Like Schindler, Leitz - who was a member of the Nazi party - is unlikely to be viewed by historians as a straightforward character. Although the allegations were never proven, Holocaust survivors filed a legal suit against the company for employing slave labour in 1988 and along with other companies, Leica paid into a compensation fund for slave labourers in 1999.
Myanmar has the highest number of forcibly conscripted child soldiers in the world, rights activists say. The government is attacking ethnic Karen minority villages forcing many thousands to flee. Refugees say the military has shot children.
Some 70,000 children make up a fifth of Myanmar's army (Human Rights Watch).
Many have been forced to commit atrocities against ethnic minorities (HRW).
Rebel groups are also accused of recruiting child fighters.
Children and teenagers are used for forced labour and portering.
Thousands of children are living as refugees in Thailand, India and Bangladesh.
Many others are hiding in the jungle with no food after fleeing attacks.
"I have no idea where my parents are now."
Dang, 18, now living in a camp after escaping an army raid on his village.
Child Soldiers and Project AK-47
Project: AK-47 is a team of people who are always ready to invade the next hopeless situation for children in armed conflict. Our staff members on the ground are nationals who are committed to rescuing and restoring the lives of children who otherwise would only know lives of violence and exploitation. We also do a fair share of raising awareness and advocacy for these children, but we don't stop there. We can't stop there. And we hope that you won't either.
Some 1.8 million children have been affected by a three-year conflict in Darfur, according to the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF), where they risk being recruited to fight and are especially vulnerable to disease and malnutrition.
"It is a traumatised population and you can see it in the children's faces," said Hollywood actress and UNICEF goodwill ambassador Mia Farrow, who last month visited camps for some of the 2.5 million displaced by Darfur's war.
"Everyone has lost family, seen villages burn, seen relatives raped, been raped."
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres - who selected Congo, Uganda and the Sudan/Chad border, where some 200,000 refugees from Darfur eke out an existence - pointed to the physical and psychological consequences of living in crowded, underfunded camps "which are not conducive for a healthy child development".
In southern Sudan, children also suffer the effects of low-level violence, poverty and a lack of basic services. The region is struggling to recover from a 21-year civil war with the north that killed 2 million people, as 600,000 refugees forced to flee the country trickle home.
AlertNet, a humanitarian news website run by Reuters Foundation, asked 112 aid experts and journalists to highlight the world's most dangerous places for children.
After Sudan, they chose northern Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Somalia, India, the Palestinian territories, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Myanmar - with the top three clearly ahead.
More than 2 million children worldwide have died as a direct result of armed conflict in the past decade, and about 20 million have been forced to flee their homes, according to UNICEF. More than a million have been orphaned or separated from their families.
Life continued on the home front as the military fought on the battlefields. The war was all consuming. Scores of women went to work to take the jobs of men who had gone off to war. Factories that were once making toys were making weapons and “top tunes” became patriotic. Listed below are a number of different activities, that will require some research, but when completed will offer a different perspective on how involving the Great War was, and how it affected so many peoples lives. Each activity can be prepared as a report. Power point presentations could also be made. Illustrations should be incorporated into the reports.
World War I Slang. Any prolonged major event brings with it a language of its own. The Great War was no exception. Words like “buck private,” “chat,” “Dixie,” and “British warm” all had unique meanings. Research WWI slang. Create a WWI Slang Dictionary.
The Plight of Refugees. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced because of the war. Most of the movement of people occurred in Europe. There are first hand accounts of refugees and some incredible photographs of their relocation. Research and illustrate a report of refugees. Include maps and photographs in your report.
Chemical Weapons. The Great War was the first war in which chemical weapons were used. Research the creation of the weapons and the proliferation of their use in the war. There are a number of exceptional photographs showing soldiers using protective gear. As you conduct your research try and locate information on accidents that occurred when chemical weapons were used.
Animals in the War. A number of four legged friends were used to help in the war. Horses, mules, camels, dogs and even cats were used. Carrier pigeons also played a significant role. Research and illustrate a report on the role that animals played in the war. Maps can also be included as animals were used in geographic locations where they were needed and would excel. You may wish to add a special section on animal heroes of the war.
Auxiliary Organizations. The Red Cross is an organization that we recognize immediately as being significant in playing a major role whenever a disaster occurs. The Red Cross is international and its branches throughout the world were involved in helping with relief efforts during the war. So were a number of other groups: Jewish Welfare Board, the Salvation Army, the Knights of Columbia and even the YMCA along with scores more of smaller organizations. Prepare a report on the role that auxiliary organizations played during the war. Illustrate your report.
Weapons of the War. Artillery and rifles were the most prominent weapons of the Great War. However, pistols, mortars, grenades, tanks and other weaponry were used. Prepare a report on the use and limitations of World War I weapons. Your report can go into detail on the differences of weapons. Illustrate your report with photographs and drawings.
Posters and Post Cards of the Great War. A number of countries produced propaganda posters and post cards for the war. Locate posters and/or post cards from Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy and the United States. Show what type of propaganda was used for each poster. You can refer back to the activity “Recruiting the Navy” to obtain a list of types of propaganda techniques.