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Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War 1x79, 1x57

Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ Warco-directed by Ken Burns and Artemis Joukowsky, tells the little known story of Waitstill and Martha Sharp, an American minister and his wife from Wellesley, Massachusetts, who left their children behind in the care of their parish and boldly committed to a life-threatening mission in Europe. Over two dangerous years they helped save scores of imperiled dissidents and refugees fleeing the Nazi occupation across Europe before and after the start of World War II.

During this time, the Sharps would face harrowing encounters with Nazi police, narrowly escape arrest and watch the Third Reich invade Eastern Europe. Their marriage would be tested severely and the two children they left behind would grow saddened by their parents’ absence. But dozens of scientists, journalists, doctors, powerful anti-Nazi activists and children would find their way to freedom and start new lives in America because of the efforts and sacrifices of the Sharps.

“The story of Waitstill and Martha Sharp is one of the most incredible tales of compassion, sacrifice and heroism that I have ever heard, and I was completely unaware of it until five years ago when Artemis Joukowsky first shared it with me,” 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 because they knew there were people in grave danger who needed help.”