About this item

Official companion to the Ken Burns film premiering September 20, 2016, on PBS tells the little-known story of the Sharps, an otherwise ordinary couple whose faith and commitment to social justice inspired them to undertake dangerous rescue and relief missions across war-torn Europe, saving the lives of countless refugees, political dissidents, and Jews on the eve of World War II.

In 1939, Rev. Waitstill Sharp, a young Unitarian minister, and his wife, Martha, a social worker, accepted a mission from the American Unitarian Association: they were to leave their home and young children in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and travel to Prague, Czechoslovakia, to help address the mounting refugee crisis. Armed with only $40,000, the Sharps quickly learned the art of spy craft and covertly sheltered political dissidents and Jews, and helped them escape the Nazis. After narrowly avoiding the Gestapo themselves, the Sharps returned to Europe in 1940 as representatives of the newly formed Unitarian Service Committee and continued their relief efforts in Vichy France. This compulsively readable true story offers readers a rare glimpse at high-stakes international relief efforts during WWII. Defying the Nazis is a fascinating portrait of resistance as told through the story of one courageous couple.



About the Author

Artemis Joukowsky

Artemis Joukowsky is an author, filmmaker, and socially conscious venture capitalist. He is the grandson of Waitstill and Martha Sharp and has spent decades researching his grandparents' heroic rescue missions in Europe. He is also codirector, with Ken Burns, of the companion PBS documentary film Defying the Nazis: The Sharps' War.

Author photo: Michelle Pinage



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