From English Wikipedia: Varian Mackey Fry (October 15, 1907 – September 13, 1967) was an American journalist. Fry ran a rescue network in Vichy France that helped approximately 2,000 to 4,000 anti-Nazi and Jewish refugees to escape Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.
|Born||Varian Mackey Fry
October 15, 1907
New York, New York
|Died||September 13, 1967 (aged 59)
|Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York
|Alma mater||Harvard University|
|Known for||Emergency Rescue Committee|
Early lifeWorld War I, at 9 years of age, Fry and friends conducted a fund-raising bazaar for the American Red Cross that included a vaudeville show, ice cream stand and fish pond. He was educated at Hotchkiss School from 1922 to 1924 when he left the school due to hazing rituals. He then attended the Riverdale Country School, graduating in 1926.
An able, multi-lingual student, Fry scored in the top 10% on the entrance exams to Harvard University and, while a Harvard undergraduate, founded Hound & Horn, an influential literary quarterly, in 1927 with Lincoln Kirstein. He was suspended for a prank just before graduation and had to repeat his senior year. Through Kirstein's sister, Mina, he met his future wife, Eileen Avery Hughes, an editor of Atlantic Monthly who was seven years his senior and was educated at Roedean School and Oxford University. They married on June 2, 1931.
JournalistWhile working as a foreign correspondent for the American journal The Living Age, Fry visited Berlin in 1935 and personally witnessed Nazi abuse against Jews on more than one occasion and "turned him into an ardent anti-Nazi". He said in 1945, "I could not remain idle as long as I had any chances at all of saving even a few of its intended victims."
Following his visit to Berlin, Fry wrote about the savage treatment of Jews by Hitler's regime in the New York Times in 1935. He wrote books about foreign affairs for Headline Books, owned by the Foreign Policy Association, including The Peace that Failed. It describes the troubled political climate following World War I and the break-up of Czechoslovakia and the events leading up to World War II.
Emergency Rescue CommitteeGreatly disturbed by what he saw, he helped raise money to support European anti-Nazi movements. Following the Occupation of France in August 1940, he went to Marseille as an agent of the newly formed Emergency Rescue Committee in an effort to help persons wishing to flee the Nazis, and circumvent the processes by French authorities who would not issue exit visas. Fry had $3,000 and a short list of refugees under imminent threat of arrest by agents of the Gestapo. Clamoring at his door came anti-Nazi writers, avant-garde artists, musicians and hundreds of others desperately seeking any chance to escape France.
Some later confessed they thought it a miracle that a white American Protestant would risk everything to help them.
Beginning in 1940, in Marseille, despite the watchful eye of the collaborationist Vichy regime, he and a small group of volunteers hid people at the Villa Air-Bel until they could be smuggled out. More than 2,200 people were taken across the border to Spain and then to the safety of neutral Portugal from which they made their way to the United States.
Martinique, from which they too could go to the United States. Among Fry's closest associates were Americans Miriam Davenport, a former art student at the Sorbonne, and the heiress Mary Jayne Gold, a lover of the arts and the "good life" who had come to Paris in the early 1930s.
When the Nazis seized France in 1940, Gold went to Marseille, where she worked with Fry and helped finance his operation. Also working with Fry was a young academic named Albert O. Hirschman.
Especially instrumental in getting Fry the visas he needed for the artists, intellectuals and political dissidents on his list was Hiram Bingham IV, an American Vice Consul in Marseille who fought against State Department anti-Semitism and was personally responsible for issuing thousands of visas, both legal and illegal.
From his isolated position in Marseille, Varian Fry relied on the Unitarian Service Committee in Lisbon to help the refugees he sent. This office, staffed by American Unitarians under the direction of Robert Dexter, helped refugees to wait in safety for visas and other necessary papers, and to gain ship passage from Lisbon.
He was forced to leave France in September 1941 after both the Vichy France and United States State Department disapproved of his covert activities. In 1942, the Emergency Rescue Committee and the American branch of the European-based International Relief Association joined forces under the name the International Relief and Rescue Committee, which was later shortened to the International Rescue Committee (IRC). The IRC is a leading nonsectarian, nongovernmental international relief and development organization that still operates today.