Numerous stories of death, destruction, and pure horror have been told of the Holocaust, and it's unlikely that all of the stories born from that terrible period will ever be told in full. However, among the countless tales of death and evil there are also many tales of good and heroism. Normal men and women became heroes during this time, risking their life and liberty to help save the lives of others. Varian Fry is one perfect example of this, and he played a major role in saving the lives of thousands.
Fry was an American journalist who ran a quarterly magazine known as Hound and Horn. He took a position as a foreign correspondent for The Living Age, and was sent to Europe during the early days of the Third Reich. During a 1935 visit to Berlin, Fry witnessed firsthand various abuse that Jews suffered at the hands of the Nazis. This triggered a deep desire to help combat the Nazis by helping save as many Jews as possible.
He helped raise money to support various anti-Nazi movements initially, but once France was occupied in 1940 Fry took on a more hands-on role. He went to Marseille to help those attempting to flee the Nazi regime, armed with 3,000 dollars and a list of refugees who were facing imminent arrest by the Nazi Gestapo.
Fry and several collaborators hid groups of people at the Vila Air-Bel, gradually smuggling them out of the country through Spain and into Portugal. From there, the refugees were moved into the United States. During this time, Fry helped save the lives of between 2 and 4 thousand people.
After these efforts, in December of 1942, Fry wrote a piece for The New Republic that was titled "The Massacre of Jews in Europe". It focused not only on the atrocities committed by the Nazis, but on the various immigration policies of the US that actually had a hand in causing many Jews to be refused entry into the country, eventually leading to their deaths.
Fry was eventually known as the American Schindler, and became the first US citizen who was listed as one of the Righteous Among the Nations. He received numerous additional accolades including the Commemorative Citizenship of the State of Israel. Additionally, he has streets named after him in Berlin as well as in his home town of Ridgewood New Jersey. His actions have been the subject of several major films including one starring William Hurt.
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