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updated: 3/28/2013 10:57 AM

UU Congregation in McHenry Premiers Two Who Dared Documentary Film

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  • The Rev. Waitstill Sharp and his wife Martha who risked their lives to rescue victims of Nazi persecution.

      The Rev. Waitstill Sharp and his wife Martha who risked their lives to rescue victims of Nazi persecution.
    Courtesy: Two Who Dared: The Sharps' War

 
Patrick Murfin

On Saturday, April 6 at 7 pm the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in McHenry (Tree of Life), 5603 Bull Valley Road in McHenry, will join dozens of other venues around the world in premiering Two Who Dared: The Sharps' War, a documentary about courage and sacrifice by a young couple fighting to save Jews and other potential victims of the Nazis at the onset of World War II.

After seventeen ministers declined the American Unitarian Association's request for relief volunteers in Europe, the Rev. Waitstill Sharp and his wife Martha committed to the dangerous undertaking. They left their two young children in Wellesley, Massachusetts and traveled to Czechoslovakia. In order to enable the clandestine transportation of refugees, they battled political and social blockades, broke laws to get imperiled individuals exit visas and laundered money on the black market. Over the course of two missions in Prague in 1939 and Southern France in 1940, the Sharps, and their underground confederates played a vital role in saving thousands from persecution.

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"If you remember the "letters of transit" in the film Casablanca, those was the kind of documents that the Sharps begged, borrowed, stole, or forged at great risk to help refugees escape war torn Europe," said Patrick Murfin, chair of the Social Justice Committee for the congregation which is sponsoring the screening.

Because of their actions to save Jews, the Sharps were named "Righteous Among the Nations" by Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial and museum. They are two of only three Americans to be so honored. The official premier release of the film in April co-insides with Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The film, which has already won honors at film festivals, was conceived, co-produced and directed by Artemis Joukowsky III, a grandson of the Sharps. He is an experienced documentary film maker, non-profit activist, and venture capitalist. Joukowsky and his associates spent more than two years gathering documentation including letters and diaries as well interviewing experts on the war, the Holocaust, surviving witnesses, and family members of the Sharps and those they saved. Rare film footage and never before seen photographs were used throughout the film.

The screening at the church will be followed by an open discussion period. The program is co-sponsored by the Social Justice Committee and the congregation's Fellowship Committee. Popcorn and refreshments will be available.

The program is open to the public. A voluntary $10 per family donation is requested to defer the cost of the program, but no one will be turned away.

For more information contact Patrick Murfin at 815 814-5645 or e-mail him at pmurfin@sbcglobal.net.

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