ADL Honors Christians Who Saved Jews and Others During Holocaust
New York, NY, November 2, 2007 … In recognition of their heroic rescue of Jews and others during World War II, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) posthumously honored Martha and Waitstill Sharp with ADL's Courage to Care Award, which honors rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust.
The award was presented by Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, a Holocaust survivor who was hidden from the Nazis by his Polish Catholic nanny. The award was accepted by the Sharp's grandson, Artemis AW Joukowsky, III, during the League's annual meeting of the National Commission in New York City.
"In the horror that was Nazi Europe, a few brave Christians followed the tenets of their faith and became, against staggering odds, their brother's keepers," said Mr. Foxman. "Martha and Waitstill Sharp, full of courage, compassion and conscience, gave the greatest gift one human being can give to another – the gift of life. The Sharps made it possible for almost 2,000 stranded refugees, many of them Jews, to survive, when millions of others all over Europe did not."
"On behalf of my grandparents, I express profound gratitude in accepting the Courage to Care award," said Artemis AW Joukowsky, III. "My grandparents liked to describe themselves as parts of a whole, not the brightest stars in the sky. Yet their heroism stands to teach us how to be citizens of the world. They demonstrated a deep faith and moral commitment that is shared by ADL as agents of social change and justice."
As war clouds gathered in Europe, Waitstill Sharp, a minister in the Unitarian Church, and his wife Martha left their two young children for an assignment in Prague. Their mission was to rescue Unitarians, as well as others targeted by the Nazis who found themselves trapped in the city. Staying on well into the Nazi takeover, on March 15, 1939, the Sharps were able to assist many with their escape. One step ahead of the Gestapo, they were able to reach American shores before the war began.
Asked to return, the Sharps landed in Lisbon in June 1940. They immediately left for France where they helped set up an underground railroad to help refugees cross into Spain and Portugal in collusion with Varian Fry, the emissary of the American-based Emergency Rescue Committee. Martha personally arranged for the escape of 27 children, including 9 who were Jewish, from Marseilles to Lisbon and then on to the United States.
On October 19, 2005, Yad Vashem conferred upon the Sharps the title Righteous Among the Nations – the second and third Americans (after Varian Fry) to be awarded this prestigious title.
In 1987, ADL initiated a unique award to honor rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust era. The ADL Courage to Care Award is a plaque with bas-reliefs depicting the backdrop of the rescuers' exceptional deeds – the Nazis' persecution, deportation and murder of millions of Jews. The Courage to Care program is sponsored by Eileen Ludwig Greenland.
Past recipients of ADL's Courage to Care Award include: Khaled Abdelwahhab, Ernst Leitz II, Mefail and Njazi Bicaku, Hiram Bingham IV, Sir Nicholas Winton, Konstantin Koslovsky, Jan and Miep Gies, Aristides De Sousa Mendes, Jan Karski, Selahattin Ulkumen, Chiune Sugihara, the French town of Le Chambon-Sur-Lignon, Emilie and Oskar Schindler, The Partisans of Riccione, Italy and Johanna Vos.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.