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Free talks about life of the American dubbed ‘a Schindler in France’

Events associated with Varian Fry, whose actions helped to save around 2,500 lives of  Jews, artists and British soldiers during World War Two, are being held in Marseille

Varian Fry and right-hand man Daniel Bénédite at their offices in Marseille Pic: Archives Pierre UNGEMACH - Droits réservés

Four days of free talks and other events are being held in Marseille next week about the life of Varian Fry – an American journalist who, based in the city, helped save 2,500 lives, including Jewish people and intellectuals at risk from the Nazis during World War Two.

The ‘Rencontres Internationales’ event called ‘Varian Fry: Résister par l’Art et la Culture’ is from Monday (September 26) to Thursday at several locations including the former hôtel Splendide, where Fry lived briefly after moving to France, and the Villa Air-Bel, where some of those he helped were given refuge (see here for a programme with full details of times and places).

Though not currently a household name in France, Fry has been compared to the German industrialist Oskar Schindler, for his heroic actions during the war. 

Those he helped include a roster of famous names such as André Breton, Marcel Duchamp and Marc Chagall. He also helped some 300 British soldiers stuck in France after the Dunkirk evacuations.

Fry formed a team which helped give refuge to those at risk from the Nazis and the collaborationist French Vichy regime, and to help them escape to safer countries abroad, including the US.

He is to be the subject of a new Netflix series out next year called Transatlantic. The Connexion has an extensive article about his life, including memories from family members of his close collaborators, in our October edition, which will be with subscribers and in newsagents at the end of this month.

Those taking part next week include historian Jean-Michel Guiraud, who is president of the Association Varian Fry France, André Breton’s daughter Aube, Varian Fry’s son James D. Fry and the son of Fry’s right-hand man, Pierre Ungemach.

The events will include talks in English on the morning of Tuesday September 27, as well as talks and round-table discussions in French and film screenings.

Read more

Teacher uncovers wartime heroism to save Jews in France 

Jewish museum shares moving images of 1941 Paris round-up

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