Honor Varian Fry, Ridgewood Native – Support Stamp CommemorationVarian Fry, a Ridgewood native, was a journalist responsible for saving over 2,000 lives in Vichy France from sure death. Mr. Fry’s story, like Oskar Schindler’s, deserves to be remembered. After visiting Berlin in 1935 and recording Nazi’s brutality toward Jews for an American political journal, he volunteered in 1940 for what was to have been a short term mission in occupied France. He established a clandestine network to rescue intellectuals, artists, and musicians.France has awarded Varian Fry the Cross of the Legion of Honor, and Israel has also designated him as “Rightous Among Nations” for his heroic actions.There is a new effort to recognized Mr. Fry’s acheivements by having a stamp named in his honor. To support this effort send a brief signed note of support to: Virginia Noelke, Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, 475 L’Enfant Plaza, S.W., Room 4474E, Washington, D.C. 20260-2437
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Varian Fry, a 32 year old Harvard-educated classicist and editor , helped save thousands of endangered refugees who were caught in the Vichy French zone escape from Nazi terror during World War II. Yet this man, known as “the American Schindler,” died in obscurity, without recognition, having been reprimanded by the US government for his actions.
Despite having had no training in underground work and no knowledge of forgers, black marketeers, or secret passages, within 24 hours after his arrival in France Fry committed himself to a mission that saved prominent persons such as artists Marc Chagall and Max Ernst, writer Hannah Arendt, and sculptor Jacques Lipchitz.
Fry said, “I stayed because the refugees needed me. But it took courage, and courage is a quality that I hadn’t previously been sure I possessed.” This man who found the courage to save some of Europe’s greatest artists, writers and thinkers remained unrecognized by his countrymen and unacknowledged by his country until recently.
In 1991, 50 years after his courageous actions in France saved thousands of innocent lives and 24 years after his death, Fry received his first official recognition from a United States agency, the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. In 1996, Varian Mackey Fry was named as “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Heros and Martyrs Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem — the first American recipient of Israel’s highest honor for rescuers during the Holocaust, an honor also received by Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg.©1997 The Varian Fry Foundation Project/IRC