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Defying the Nazis

The Sharps' War

Author: Artemis Joukowsky   Foreword by: Ken Burns

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, the Reverend 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. Seventeen ministers had been asked to undertake this mission and had declined; Rev. Sharp was the first to accept the call for volunteers in Europe.

Armed with only $40,000, Waitstill and Martha quickly learned the art of spy craft and undertook dangerous rescue and relief missions across war-torn Europe, saving refugees, political dissidents, and Jews on the eve of World War II. 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.

A fascinating portrait of resistance as told through the story of one courageous couple, Defying the Nazis offers a rare glimpse at high-stakes international relief efforts during WWII and tells the remarkable true story of a couple whose faith and commitment to social justice inspired them to risk their lives to save countless others.

A companion documentary film was directed by Ken Burns and Artemis Joukowsky.
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“A clear, unpretentious volume that justly celebrates a couple who risked all for others.”
Kirkus Reviews

Defying the Nazis hooks you, catches you up in the narrative, and pulls you along by all the elements of great storytelling...It reads like a spy novel, but it’s all true.”
—Ken Burns

“This gripping tale of intrigue and courage, of love’s power and its loss, is both entertaining and inspiring. Heroes are often thought to be super-human. But Defying the Nazis proves that true heroes emerge not from the pages of comic books but the halls of everyday life. The common denominator is a stubborn faith in humanity and a conviction that the shape of history is ultimately in each of our hands.”
—William F. Schulz, president of the UUA, 1985–1993; executive director of Amnesty International USA, 1994–2006; and president of the UUSC, 2010–2016

Foreword by Ken Burns

Preface

CHAPTER ONE
The Eighteenth Choice

CHAPTER TWO
Learning the Ropes

CHAPTER THREE
Witnesses to History

CHAPTER FOUR
The Dying Republic

CHAPTER FIVE
Einmarsch—The Invasion of Czechoslovakia

CHAPTER SIX
Under the Swastika

CHAPTER SEVEN
Changing the Rules

CHAPTER EIGHT
Helping the Kulturträgers

CHAPTER NINE
Money Talks

CHAPTER TEN
Last Days in the Protectorate

CHAPTER ELEVEN
The First Choice

CHAPTER TWELVE
In Lisbon

CHAPTER THIRTEEN
Helping Hands

CHAPTER FOURTEEN
Reunion in Cerbère

CHAPTER FIFTEEN
Dividing Forces

CHAPTER SIXTEEN
The Emergency Rescue Committee

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
The Milk Arrives

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN
Refugees’ Odyssey

CHAPTER NINETEEN
Escape from Marseille

CHAPTER TWENTY
The Children’s Journey

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE
The Home Front

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO
The Family

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE
Back to Europe

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR
A Run for Congress

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE
Palestine

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX
Civil Rights and Chicago

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN
Divergent Paths

Epilogue

Rescue and Relief Organizations

Acknowledgments

Notes

Works Consulted

Index

Watch the trailer for the documentary co-directed by Ken Burns and Artemis Joukowsky.


Defying the Nazis

ISBN: 978-080701302-1
Publication Date: 8/29/2017
Size:6 x 9 Inches (US)
Price:  $18.00
Format: Paperback
Availability: In stock.
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