Defying the Nazis: The Sharps' War: Waitstill Sharp, a Unitarian minister, and Martha Sharp, a trained social worker, in February 1939, boldly commit to a life-threatening mission in Europe ... Read allDefying the Nazis: The Sharps' War: Waitstill Sharp, a Unitarian minister, and Martha Sharp, a trained social worker, in February 1939, boldly commit to a life-threatening mission in Europe to assist refugees.Defying the Nazis: The Sharps' War: Waitstill Sharp, a Unitarian minister, and Martha Sharp, a trained social worker, in February 1939, boldly commit to a life-threatening mission in Europe to assist refugees.
This is a typical Ken Burns documentary with outstanding recollections of the many of those who were saved interspersed with letters etc. from the Sharps. The music, re- enactments, and narration make for a very dramatic and tense retelling of the exploits of this couple. And, as in all his films, the story being told is more than the story itself. It delves into how some people are willing to risk their lives and fortune for others; how families were willing to give up precious time with their families for others; and, of course, how Hitler's regime was the embodiment of evil on the earth. It also touches on the fears of immigration and blatant racism prevalent in 1940's America.
JOHN 15:13 was in my mind as I watched this file: "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." The Sharps did this out of a love for humanity, a commitment to social justice and because someone had to do something about the situation.
This is a very dramatic and tense story which is portrayed in the most effective fashion by Burns. The rescue of Mr. X (unidentified to this day) from Prague in 1939 and the rescue of numerous French Jews across the French Alps into Spain are as suspenseful as any modern movie. And, of course, this was true.
The bravery and commitment of this couple put to shame the French capitulators who were hunting down their own countrymen to turn them over to their conquerors. It also put to shame their own America's leaders who knew about the atrocities of the holocaust, but decided to just focus on a military victory as the quickest way to send the suffering; therefore, doing nothing to impede the genocide of the Jewish population of Europe.
In addition, the scenes of the Czechs shipping their children off to escape the clutches of the Nazis was poignant and extremely touching. As I watched this, I was wishing that today's younger generation would see this and get a sense of how life can be and how important it is for Christian values and freedom to reign in our country.
This is not Ken Burns' best or most well-known film. But it is one which needs to be seen. If it only inspires a few people in America today to do "the right thing," it will have met its purpose.
You can find the film at the library or watch it on line at:
I hope you watch it. You will be moved by it.
- Dec 4, 2017