DEFYING THE NAZIS reveals the untold story of an American husband and wife who spent nearly two years on life-threatening missions in Europe to save refugees and dissidents. Waitstill Sharp was a Unitarian minister and Martha was from Wellesley, Massachusetts. In 1939 they left their children behind in the care of their parish and boldly committed to helping to save hundreds of imperiled political dissidents and Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi occupation across Europe.
“The story of Waitstill and Martha Sharp is one of the most incredible tales of compassion, sacrifice and heroism that I have ever heard,” said Ken Burns. “Nearly three years before America as a nation became involved in the Second World War, these two unassuming, so-called ‘ordinary’ Americans gave up everything they knew and loved and risked their lives to become involved in a war 4,000 miles away.”
DEFYING THE NAZIS is cinematically told through the letters and journals of the Sharps, with Tom Hanks as the voice of Waitstill and Marina Goldman as the voice of Martha. It features firsthand interviews with the now adult children whom the Sharps saved, as well as leading historians, authors and Holocaust scholars.
“Beyond the cloak-and-dagger suspense of my grandparents’ experience, it is a story of how a small but effective underground network of rescue workers saved as many lives as they could, and how important that lesson is for what is happening today,” said the film’s co-producer and grandson of the Sharps, Artemis Joukowsky.
Steve Hunegs, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Minnesota and the Dakotas, was a guest speaker in May, 2106 when the Fagen Fighters WWII Museum dedicated their Holocaust Boxcar exhibit. The JCRC is the public affairs voice of the Jewish community fighting anti-Semitism and prejudice, promoting tolerance and social justice.
Fagen Fighters WWII Museum is home to a pristine collection of fully operational, active aircraft and vehicles from World War II. Also featured are fine art, bronze sculptures and interactive multimedia displays. The United Church of Christ of Granite Falls and Montevideo has been serving the region for more than 140 years.