“DEFYING THE NAZIS: SHARPS’ WAR” A NEW FILM BY KEN BURNS AND ARTEMIS JOUKOWSKY TELLS THE UNTOLD STORY OF A HUSBAND AND WIFE TRYING TO SAVE EUROPEAN REFUGEES FROM NAZI OCCUPATION

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 “DEFYING THE NAZIS: SHARPS’ WAR” A NEW FILM BY KEN BURNS AND
ARTEMIS JOUKOWSKY TELLS THE UNTOLD STORY OF A HUSBAND AND WIFE TRYING TO SAVE EUROPEAN REFUGEES FROM NAZI OCCUPATION

 

Click Here to View a Trailer of the Program

DVD Release Timed to Coincide with the Airing on PBS September 20th

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Arlington, Va. – August 26, 2016 – PBS Distribution announced today it is releasing “DEFYING THE NAZIS: SHARPS’ WAR”, a new documentary co-directed by Ken Burns and Artemis Joukowsky on DVD. This is the story of a little-known but important mission by an American minister and his wife to rescue refugees and dissidents in Europe before and after the start of World War II.

DEFYING THE NAZIS: SHARPS’ WAR” will be available on DVD September 20th, 2016. The run time of the program is approximately 90 minutes on 1 disc, and the SRP is $24.99. The program will also be available for digital download.  

The film tells the story of Waitstill and Martha Sharp, a Unitarian minister and his wife from Wellesley, Massachusetts, who left their children behind in the care of their parish and boldly committed to multiple life-threatening missions in Europe. Over two dangerous years they helped to save hundreds of imperiled political dissidents and refugees fleeing the Nazi occupation across Europe.

The story is cinematically told through the letters and journals of the Sharps, with Tom Hanks as the voice of Waitstill and Marina Goldman as the voice of Martha. It features firsthand interviews with the now adult children whom the Sharps saved, as well as leading historians, authors and Holocaust scholars, including William Schulz, Deborah Dwork, Modecai Paldiel, Ghanda DiFiglia and Yehuda Bauer.

Artemis Joukowsky, a film producer and co-founder of No Limits Media, is the grandson of Waitstill and Martha Sharp and has spent decades researching their story. He is the author of a companion book to the film, featuring a foreword by Ken Burns, which will be published by Beacon Press and released on September 6.

In January of 1939, as Americans remained mostly detached from news reports of the growing refugee crisis in the escalating war in Europe, Waitstill received a call from the Rev. Everett Baker, Vice President of the American Unitarian Association, asking if they would travel to Czechoslovakia to help provide relief to people trying to escape Nazi persecution. He invited Waitstill and Martha to take part in “the first intervention against evil by the denomination to be started immediately overseas.” The mission would involve secretly helping Jews, refugees and dissidents to escape the expanding Nazi threat in Europe. If they were discovered, they would face imprisonment, probable torture and death. Seventeen other members of the church had declined. With two young children at home, the Sharps accepted. They expected to be gone for several months.

Instead, their mission would last almost two years.

During this time, the Sharps would face harrowing encounters with Nazi police, narrowly escape arrest and watch as the Third Reich invaded Eastern Europe. Their marriage would be tested severely and the two children they left behind would be saddened by their parents’ absence. But dozens of Jewish scientists, journalists, doctors, powerful anti-Nazi activists and children would find their way to freedom and start new lives as a result of their efforts. To recognize their heroic sacrifice, Martha and Waitstill were honored at Yad Vashem in Israel and declared “Righteous Among the Nations.” Of the thousands so honored, there are only five Americans, including the Sharps.

Funding is provided by members of The Better Angels Society including Jan and Rick Cohen and Jonathan and Jeannie Lavine; The Starr Foundation; The Threshold Foundation; and donations from individuals.

 

About WETA
WETA Washington, D.C., is one of the largest producing stations of new content for public television in the United States. WETA productions and co-productions include PBS NewsHour; Washington Week With Gwen Ifill; The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize; The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song; In Performance at the White House; documentaries by scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr.; and films by Ken Burns, including The Civil War, Baseball, The War, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, The Central Park Five, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History and Jackie Robinson. Sharon Percy Rockefeller is president and CEO of WETA. The WETA studios and administrative offices are located in Arlington, Virginia. More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at www.weta.org.

 

About PBS Distribution

PBS Distribution is the leading media distributor for the public television community, both domestically and internationally, extending the reach of these programs beyond broadcast while generating revenue for the public television system, stations, and producers.

PBS Distribution offers a broad range of high quality content in multiple formats including DVD, Blu-ray, digital download, and digital streaming.  PBS International offers factual content for broadcast, cable, and satellite services internationally.  The PBS Distribution catalog includes films from Ken Burns, documentaries from award-winning series such as NOVA, FRONTLINE, AMERICAN MASTERS, NATURE, and AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, dramas from MASTERPIECE, as well as films from independent producers and popular children’s programming.

 

DEFYING THE NAZIS: SHARPS’ WAR

Street Date: September 20, 2016

Genre: Documentary

Run Time: Approximately 90 Minutes on 1 disc

SRP: DVD $24.99

Format: DVD