THE parents of documentary filmmaker Pierre Sauvage, the speaker at the tenth annual Fred Marcus Memorial Holocaust Lecture, 4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 28, were among the 5,000 Jews saved by villagers in the area of LeChambon, France during WW II. Sauvage was born there. His personal experiences have naturally piqued his interest in the Holocaust and, in particular, the subject of rescuers.
Following the success of his award-winning film, “Weapons of the Spirit,” which Sauvage showed at the 2004 Marcus Lecture, Sauvage founded the LeChambon Foundation.
His next film was about Peter Bergson, one of the few peoplewho spoke out in the US about what was happening in Europe in the 1940s.
At the October lecture, Sauvage will show and discuss excerpts from his latest film, “And Crown Thy Good: Varian Fry in Marseille,” which will be released next year.
THIS work in progress tells the full story of the most successful private American-led rescue effort during the Nazi era. Fry, a 32-year-old intellectual from New York who had been a foreign policy analyst, defied the Nazis and his own government, leading a unique mission that helped to save some 2,000 artists, intellectuals and anti-Nazi refugees, both Jewish and non-Jewish, in 1940-41.
He was the first American to be singled out by Yad Vashem in Israel as a Righteous Among the Nations.
Fry did not work alone. He was aided by a few non-Jewish Americans, including Mary Jayne Gold, a charitable heiress; Miriam Davenport, a scholarly art student; Charles Fawcett, an adventurer from South Carolina; and Leon Ball, whose own account is revealed for the first time in Sauvage’s film.
Fry was also assisted by a righteous US consul in Marseille: Hiram Bingham IV.
Together, this tiny group was able to save some 2,000 people, including Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, Jacques Lipchitz, Hannah Arendt, Heinreich Mann, Marcel Duchamp and Franz Werfel.
Sauvage’s film brings recognition to Fry’s heroic work which, in spite of its importance, is still fairly unknown. The filmmaker also created the Varian Fry Institute (part of the LeChambon Foundation) as a repository for Fry’s documents and as a further aid to publicizing Fry’s accomplishments.
The Marcus lecture is sponsored by the DU Holocaust Awareness Institute, and is presented this year in cooperation with the MACC at the JAAMM Festival.
There is a small fee for the lecture, but the event is free for Holocaust survivors and students.
Information: www.maccjcc.org/jaamm or call (303) 316-6360.