Author Dara Horn has managed to capture one of the greatest little known WWII stories in her very excellent nonfiction book about American journalist Varian Fry who might have saved as many as 4,000 persons from the Nazis during WWII. Fry was for all intents and purposes the American version of Oskar Schindler, the German businessman who was responsible for the rescue of so many Jews during WWII. Varian Fry was deeply troubled by the growing wave of Nazism in Europe, and when Germany went to war, systematically eliminating Jews throughout Europe, Fry formed a rescue committee that helped to save many artists, writers and intellectuals in Europe by helping to acquire both legal and illegal visas to get them to the United States or other safe havens. Fry had problems with anti-Semitic policies within the U.S. State Department at the time, only making his job far more difficult. And Britain also put sharp limits on immigration of Jews as well. Both the U.S. and Britain were very poor at allowing Jews to escape Nazi oppression, and both greatly contributed the huge number of deaths of Jews through their anti-immigration curbs at the time. The later creation of the state of Israel seemed to be the only real solution to allowing a homeland for Jews with open immigration policies to save them from historic oppression.
The long list of writers, artists and others that Fry helped to save is too long to list here. But, it includes some great names in culture. So many Jews were amazed that a White American Protestant, such as Fry, would help to save them , because their Nazi persecutors were Catholics, Lutherans and other supposed Christians. It was only after the war that the United States and other supposed Christian nations seemed to feel any great sense of guilt over allowing the brutal deaths of six million Jews in Europe. Church leaders in the Catholic Church and Protestant churches, didn’t want to offend anyone during the war, and didn’t really want to take sides or speak out against the horrible crimes against civilians in Europe, and did virtually nothing to stop the slaughter of so many Jews. Yet, today most churches self-proclaim themselves as being somehow guardians of morality or right and wrong in society, although most took a cowards path during the war or even in some cases actually supported the Nazis in some way. Spanish Fascist leader Franco ruled largely due to the support of both the Nazis and the Catholic Church, for example.
Dara Horn has managed an awesome read with her great book about Fry. It is a very compelling book that has been drawing five star reviews from in the public. You won’t be able to put down this wonderful book. It is both deeply sad and damning book of the moral failures of some, and at the same time restores your faith that some Americans such as Varian Fry risked his life to make a real difference.
Art, music and literature is far richer today because Varian Fry wasn’t afraid to step up and do the right thing, while many other Americans failed to save lives during the war, including in the American government.
This great book is available at Amazon including a speciial $1.99 Kindle version as well.
The Bottom Line: What a great work this book is. This is a great story that needed to be told. ****(Four Stars, Excellent. Buy a copy to love and cherish).