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Assignment Rescue

October 01, 1997 | Holocaust Teacher Resource Center | 60 minutes
Directed by: Richard Kaplan
Assignment Rescue is the dramatic account of Varian Fry, a New York journalist sent to Marseilles in 1940 by the Emergency Rescue Committee. His assignment was to help save scores of anti-Nazi refugees trapped in France and hunted by the Gestapo. Fry soon became a veritable Scarlet Pimpernel and was responsible for the rescue of hundreds of anti Nazis, including many of Europe's most distinguished artists, writers and scholars: among them Andre Breton, Marc Chagall, Max Ernst and Hannah Arendt.

The narration, spoken by celebrated actress Meryl Streep, provides the historical context for this compelling but little known tale of a young American who helped save several thousand political and intellectual refugees in the early years of World War II. Fry died in 1967, an unknown American Schindler, his courage largely unrecognized. Only recently has the United States begun to honor this authentic American hero. In 1996 Varian Fry became the only American to be honored as one of the “Righteous Among the Nations” at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. In the words of former Secretary of State Warren Christopher, “We owe Varian Fry our deepest gratitude, but we also owe him a promise – a promise never to forget the horrors that he struggled against so heroically, a promise to do whatever is necessary to ensure that such horrors never happen again.”

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