Vox Tablet

Who Shall Live

Reporter Dara Horn admires Varian Fry, who saved Jewish intellectuals from the Nazis, but she questions his belief that not all lives held equal value

January 17, 2012
Refugees outside the American consulate in Marseille, France, 1940-'41.(United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Hiram Bingham)

Refugees outside the American consulate in Marseille, France, 1940-‘41.(United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Hiram Bingham)

When Varian Fry, an American journalist, went to Europe in 1941 on behalf of the Emergency Rescue Committee, he went with a mission: to save a group of European artists and intellectuals from the Nazis. His endeavor succeeded. With the help of a small team, he rescued Hannah Arendt, Marc Chagall, and more than 2,200 others. But at a time when Oskar Schindler and Raul Wallenberg are familiar names, Fry has been largely forgotten.

Journalist Dara Horn was determined to tell his story. In a revelatory Kindle Single published today by Tablet Magazine, Horn reports on how Fry came to his rescue work and what became of him after the war. (You can read a preview on Tablet.) But how did this hero decide whom to save in the first place? Horn spoke to Vox Tablet host Sara Ivy about Fry’s exploits, the arguably eugenics-like nature of his mission, the cultural heritage that was not protected by his and other rescue missions, and why so few know of his heroic work. [Running time: 22:09]

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Vox Tablet is Tablet Magazine’s weekly podcast, hosted by Sara Ivry and produced by Julie Subrin. You can listen to individual episodes here or subscribe on iTunes.

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