Advertisement

Varian Fry in Marseille

  • Pierre Sauvage
Chapter

Abstract

In February 1941, in Marseille, France, an American wrote to his wife back in New York:

Among the people who have come into my office, or with whom I am in constant correspondence, are not only some of the greatest living authors, painters, sculptors of Europe… but also former cabinet ministers and even prime ministers of half a dozen countries. What a strange place Europe is when men like this are reduced to waiting patiently in the anteroom of a young American of no importance whatever.

Varian Fry, the young American, was 32 when he arrived in Marseille early in the morning of 14 August 1940 — only two months after France’s traumatizing defeat by the Nazis, and a full year and a half before Americans finally allowed themselves to get dragged into the war.

Keywords

Mass Murder Rescue Effort Relief Work Consul General Refugee Crisis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 7.
    Interview with Mary Jayne Gold (Crown). Also, Mary Jayne Gold, Crossroads Marseilles 1940 (New York: Doubleday, 1980), p.xvi.Google Scholar
  2. 8.
    Interview with Henri Amouroux (Crown). Also, Henri Amouroux, Pour en finir avec Vichy: 1, Les oublis de la mémoire 1940 (Paris: Robert Laffont, 1997), p.269. Anita Kassof points out that the German demand, on its face, was not unprecedented. ‘Singularly disturbing about the extraditions ordered under Article 19, however,’ she underscores, ‘was Vichy’s apparent willingness to surrender refugees whom the Nazis defined as guilty of crimes.’ (Anita Kassof, Intent and Interpretation: The German Refugees and Article 19 of the Franco — German Armistice, 1940–41, (M.A. thesis, 1992).Google Scholar
  3. 13.
    Blanche Wiesen Cook, Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 2, 1933–1938, (New York: Viking, 1999), p.312, in a chapter entitled ‘A Silence Beyond Repair.’ If the Fry story is in large measure a story about Americans, the perplexing relationship that the crusading First Lady had with the Emergency Rescue Committee — and indeed with the later massacre of the Jews — is a piece of the puzzle that deserves far greater research and analysis than the shallow and mostly evasive treatment it has received to date. What is one to make of her astounding question to a Zionist in January 1943, at a time when everybody had a sense of what was happening to the Jews of Europe: ‘Why can’t Jews be members of a religious body but natives of the lands in which they live?’ (Letter to Dr. Joseph Dünner, reprinted in his The Republic of Israel: Its History and Its Promise [New York: Whittlesey House, 1950]). In 1952, providing a preface to the publication of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (New York: Doubleday, 1952), all Mrs. Roosevelt saw in the work was ‘one of the wisest and most moving commentaries on war.’ She also felt no need to make any reference to Anne Frank being Jewish.Google Scholar
  4. 22.
    For information on Charles Fry and the Children’s Aid Society, see Annette R. Fry, The Orphan Trains (New York: New Discovery Books, 1994)Google Scholar
  5. 24.
    Varian Fry, Tribute to the Memory of My Father, 11 April 1958 (CF photocopy).Google Scholar
  6. 25.
    Andy Marino, A Quiet American: The Secret War of Varian Fry (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999).Google Scholar
  7. 31.
    Daniel Bénédite, La filière marseillaise: Un chemin vers la liberté sous l’occupation (Paris: Clancier Guénaud, 1984), p.273.Google Scholar
  8. 38.
    Lisa Fittko, Escape Through the Pyrenees (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern U. Press, 1991). Interview with Lisa Fittko (Crown). Google Scholar
  9. 62.
    Howard L. Brooks, Prisoners of Hope: Report on a Mission (New York: L. B. Fischer, 1942).Google Scholar
  10. 99.
    According to Donna Ryan and Serge Klarsfeld, Rodellec du Porzic would vigorously implement Vichy anti-Jewish policies throughout the war years. Interviews with Donna Ryan and Serge Klarsfeld (Crown). See also Donna Ryan, The Holocaust & the Jews of Marseille (Chicago: U. of Illinois Press, 1996), p.5.Google Scholar
  11. 120.
    Doris Kearns Goodwin, No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994).Google Scholar
  12. 122.
    A bizarre footnote to Fry’s stay in Marseille is the allegation put forward independently in the early 1960s by writers Victor Alexandrov and Marcel Wallenstein, and later repeated by Charles Wighton, that Adolf Eichmann met with Varian Fry in Marseille in 1940 thinking that Fry represented the American government (!) and wishing to negotiate the possibility of letting shiploads of Jews go to Madagascar, in return for $5,000 for each Jew and in the context of the attempt to reach a negotiated peace with Great Britain. Fry later denied that such an encounter or such discussions ever happened, even with Nazi officials other than Eichmann, and there is not a shred of credible evidence that they did. However, the notion of such a discussion taking place between German and American representatives in the summer or early fall of 1940 is not inherently absurd from a strictly political point-of-view, according to historian Yehuda Bauer, and given the good connections that Alexandrov and Wallenstein seem to have had with intelligence services — and the fact that they get some relatively obscure details right, though their accounts are riddled with absurdities — it would certainly be interesting to know how and why this completely forgotten story ever surfaced in the first place. See Victor Alexandrov, Six Millions de Morts: La Vie ďAdolf Eichmann (Paris, 1960);Google Scholar
  13. Marcel Wallenstein, ‘How “the Blackest Nazi” Tried To Bride the U.S. With Jewish Lives,’ Kansas City Star, 14 August 1960; Charles Wighton, Eichmann: His Career and His Crimes (London, 1961).Google Scholar
  14. 124.
    Philippe Burrin, Hitler and the Jews: The Genesis of the Holocaust (London: Edward Arnold, 1994). Introduction by Saul Friedländer.Google Scholar
  15. 127.
    Richard Breitman, Official Secrets: What the Nazis Planned, What the British and Americans Knew (New York: Hill & Wang, 1998), p.227.Google Scholar
  16. 130.
    Michael R. Marrus and Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews. (New York: Basic Books, 1981). Also interview with Robert O. Paxton (Crown). Google Scholar
  17. 133.
    Charles Higham, American Swastika (New York: Doubleday, 1985), p.82. Some ground-breaking reporting was done by Higham in both American Swastika and Trading With the Enemy (New York: Delacorte, 1983).Google Scholar
  18. 134.
    David S. Wyman, Paper Walls: America and the Refugee Crisis, 1938–1941 (Amherst, Mass: University of Massachusetts Press, 1968), p.22.Google Scholar
  19. 139.
    Yehuda Bauer, Jews for Sale?: Nazi-Jewish Negotiations, 1933–1945 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), p.32.Google Scholar
  20. 145.
    David S. Wyman, The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust (New York: Pantheon, 1984).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pierre Sauvage

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations