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An 'American Schindler' who helped 4,000 Jews escape from the Nazis

By Samyuktha
|

London, Aug.18 (ANI): At least 4,000 Jews, some of them the brightest Jewish minds from art and literature, were shipped from Nazi Germany to New York in the early 1940s, newly released passenger figures show.

According to The Telegraph, a journalist-Varian Fry, who is known as the American Oskar Schindler, saved them from almost certain death.

Among those saved were Marc Chagall, the Jewish French-Russian artist, Claude Levi-Strauss, the French anthropologist, and surrealist artist, Marcel Duchamp. Others who owed him their life to Fry were artists Max Ernst and Andre Breton, the Nobel laureate physiologist Otto Meyerhof, mathematician Jaques Hadamard, and writers Franz Werfel, Hannah Arendt and Heinrich Mann.

Passenger lists of ships bound for New York from Europe have now revealed the true extent of Fry's heroic effort 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.

This month marks the 70th anniversary since Fry first arrived in Marseille as part of the Emergency Rescue Committee (ERC) an independent organization set up by wealthy Americans concerned with the persecution of the Jews.

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.

A documentary film about the time he spent in Marseille is currently in production. (ANI)

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