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Defying the Nazis: The Sharps War - Movie Review

November 15, 2019

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What story can be made of a couple with two children serving a Unitarian Church in Wellesley, Massachusetts?  In the late 1930s to 1940 it’s a story of sacrifice, hardship and peril.

Waitstill and Martha Sharp were the 17th couple asked by the Unitarian denomination to rescue Jewish dissidents and refugees in Czechoslovakia under recent Nazi occupation.  The other 16 couples had declined.

The documentary shows they were much more than a “common” couple and definitely the right people for the job.  Their lives were constantly in danger from police and foreign operatives.  Their service took a great toll on their family.

Ken Burns’ compelling narrative knits together interviews of their children and fourteen of the hundreds of those rescued by the Sharps.   Original photos and news footage tell the story.  The score and cinematography are what we have come to expect from Burns.

Grade:  A+


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