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Defying the Nazis: The Sharps' War

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3.78  ·  Rating details ·  184 ratings  ·  51 reviews
The little-known story of the Sharps whose rescue and relief missions across Europe during World War II saved the lives of countless Jews, refugees, and political dissidents. Official companion to the Ken Burns PBS film.

For readers captivated by the story of Antonina Zabinski as told in The Zookeeper's Wife and other stories of rescue missions during WWII, Defying the Naz
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Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 6th 2016 by Beacon Press (first published October 27th 2015)
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Cheryl
In 1939, the Reverend Waitstill Sharp was a young Unitarian minister working at a parish in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts when he was asked by church authorities if he would consider a mission overseas. The Unitarian hierarchy was very troubled about the rise of Nazism in Europe, especially when Czecholslovkia was forced to cede the Sudeten region to Germany the previous year. They wanted one of their own ministers to go to Czechoslovakia to assist refugees who were trying to leave the country. ...more
Monical
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed in this book. Its hard for me to understand how such an amazing story would be related in dry boring prose. I suspect that the lack of documentation (apparently neither of the couple ever wrote their memoirs) contributed to the problem.

I hope the PBS documentary is better, because it would be a sorry effort if the book is translated directly to the film. I think some additional visuals would enliven the story so I'm hopeful.
Anne Slater
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Not because I an a Unitarian Universalist, but because I sigh and am grateful to all who risked their lives to save Jews from the terror of the Nazis and of the bureaucracy of other nations (all nations of the western world) to get adults and children out of harm's way during the Nazi horror.

This history, documented as a film by Ken Burns (which tells you the seriousness with which HE viewed this story), was written by the Sharp's grandson.

This Unitarian minister and his wife, were the only volu
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Annia Lennox
This was an interesting story. It blended the Sharps personal and "professional" life very well. And it was eye-opening. Now, I don't read a lot about the Nazis and World War II, but I've been exposed to a decent amount through school.

But it does show me that through all the horror there were people helping. I had never heard of the Sharps before, but they did a brave and admirable thing. Anyone who helped someone escape the Germans/Nazis should be remembered.


Originally posted: https://daydreami
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Katie
Aug 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I spotted this book on the new arrivals shelf at the library and recognized it from the substantial buzz the accompanying documentary drew in UU circles. Waitstill and Martha Sharp were a Unitarian couple (he was a minister in Massachusetts) who were sent to Prague to help refugees there... right before the Nazis invaded, somewhat complicating their work. They undertook a great deal of sneaking around under the Nazis' noses (and a not-insubstantial amount of money laundering) to help people thre ...more
ANGELA
Sep 29, 2016 marked it as to-read
Official companion to the Ken Burns film premiering September 20, 2016, on PBS tells the little-known story of the Sharps, an otherwise ordinary couple whose faith and commitment to social justice inspired them to undertake dangerous rescue and relief missions across war-torn Europe, saving the lives of countless refugees, political dissidents, and Jews on the eve of World War II.
In 1939, the Reverend Waitstill Sharp, a young Unitarian minister, and his wife, Martha, a social worker, accepted a
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Luke Johnson
Dec 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Defying the Nazis is the true story, written by the grandson, of a family who helped children escape from war torn regions of Europe during WWII. The stories first third takes place is Czechlovakia, the middle in Vichy France, and the rest back home in the U.S. Yes comparisons to Schindler's List are inevitable and not out of line in the least. But what Schindler's List does right that this book does wrong is belay a deep sense of risk. For the most part the Sharp's seem relatively safe through ...more
Kate Baxter
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Here it is 77 years later and stories of heroism in World War II still stir emotion and great interest in the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. This is a story of The Sharps, an amazing couple serving in Czechoslovakia in 1939 and beyond: he, a Unitarian minister with a Wellesley, Massachusetts flock and she a social worker. They are called to serve in Europe as the Nazis grab for land and power. Other Unitarian ministers had declined requests to serve and surely a couple with two small ch ...more
Roger Smitter
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Joukoqsky gives us a powerful and, to my reading of WW2 stories, a very powerful story about humanity. We learn about a minister and his wife leaving a very comfortable church assignment to launch ways to bring children from Europe at the start of WWII. In some passages, we get way more information than we need. But it’s a powerful story that gives us insight into history and into a family. The audio version is powerful in the use of multiple dialects.
Liz
Nov 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Really interesting story - but would have moved so much faster if it had been written in first person - or had some more interesting movement with voice. Read like a list of facts more than the dramatic story it is! Nevertheless, I'm glad I read it and look forward to the film.
Brittany
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Martha and Waitstill Sharp are 2 of 5 Americans that are proclaimed "Righteous Among the Nations." Their names are there along with the likes of Oskar Schindler for their humanitarian efforts during WW2. In 1939, the Sharps left their two young children at home in Massachusetts to go on a Unitarian church mission in Czechoslovakia. Stuff that 99% of people would say no to (and some 20-some people did before them), but the Sharps are selfless people. They have to actively defy the Nazis, learn th ...more
Cindy
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is written by the grandson of Waitstill and Martha Sharp, Artemis Joukowsky. He started with the stories told to him, then searched for documents so that he could tell the full story of the remarkable journeys they made to rescue people from the Nazi regime. Although they had backing from their church and othr humanitarian groups, it ais their determination, "the importance of finding the joy in serving others" that inspired them to "do with their lives what is important". They were Am ...more
Amit
Dec 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The author, Artemis Joukowsky, details the rescue of over 100 children and adults from the horrors of Nazi Germany by his grand father the Reverend Waitstill Sharp and his grandmother Mrs. Martha Sharp. Like a James Bond thriller, it keeps the reader on his/her edge! I wish we have more daring and kind folks like the Sharps to solve some of our acute problems around the world today!

You must also see the companion film directed by Ken Burns and Artemis Joukowsky.
Nancy Mccorkle
May 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Quite a story about a couple who left their young children to help People escape the Germans in Europe. Saved children and adults. Unitarian missionaries. Felt concerned for their young children. They were away from them for long periods of time. Ultimately their marriage ended, but they were behind the scenes heroes for those people they helped escape.
David
This book tells the story of the Unitarian pastor Waitstill Sharp, and the rescue missions he performed along with his wife Martha, in Europe during World War II. I had never heard the story of the Sharps, and it was fascinating to listen to this, knowing these are real events.

Their lives were uprooted by the Unitarian leadership, twice during the early years of the war. Many of the people they rescued survived in other countries.
Jennifer
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was looking forward to reading this book because the actions of the Sharps seemed so important. I know that both Sharps felt that they did what needed to be done, but I felt that the telling of their story was very dry.
Joni
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
A loving portrait of the author's grandparents concerning a little known rescue of over 100 Jews from the Holocaust. Waitstill and Martha Sharp leap from the pages as their story is recounted and their heroism known for all to admire and praise.
Ferris
Jul 13, 2018 rated it liked it
A very good piece of non-fiction about a courageous couple, the Sharps, who defied the Nazis during WWII, aiding escaping Jews. A good example of people living their moral convictions!
Cheri
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating book about Waitstill & Martha Sharp who saved many people during WWII.
Susan Procter
Jun 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Overall the story was very interesting, but the book was a little slow going in spots especially toward the end.
Susan Baker
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wonderful story of the heroic Sharps during WWII.
Dona
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Grandson did a great job of telling his Grandparents story of how they help - tons of people escape the Nazi's and help provide aid to those needing food in WWII.
Brynlee
Jul 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Amazing story, not great writing.
Lisa
Nov 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: world-war-2
I've read a lot of stories about the heroes of World War 2, those who saved many Jewish lives. This couple took such risk to save the lives of Jewish children.
Mike
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wow. An impressive story of people following their convictions.
Sandi
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This story of bravery during the War they helped people and children all through the war after all this they could not live together anymore that was sad
Joann Glasser
Oct 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent
Whitney
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-2
From the moment I read the introduction to this book I was intrigued. I found it fascinating that the author did not know the incredible role his grandparents had played in rescuing people during World War II until his Mother suggested he speak to his grandparents about their activities during the War for a school assignment. After reading this book, I cannot help but wonder what stories I do not know about my family. Although we will not all find something as momentous as the author, his discov ...more
Jim Gallen
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“Defying The Nazis” is the inspiring story of Rev. Waitsill Sharp and his wife Martha who devoted their lives to aiding people in distress. Written by their grandson, it is the companion to the PBS documentary of the same name.

While serving a Unitarian congregation in Wellesley, Massachusetts in 1939 Waitsill was asked by an official of the American Unitarian Association that they travel to Czechoslovakia to lead a relief mission in areas menaced by Nazi expansion. Accepting the call, they left
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Heidi
Jun 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Joukowsky’s account of Rev. Waitstill and Martha Sharp’s activities during WWII almost feels like a novel about top secret agents, except their stories are not fiction and they were never spies. Joukowsky, author and grandchild of the Sharps, set out to honor them, their courage, and their triumphs with archival research, interviews, and unpublished family papers, demonstrating that ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things. The young American couple accepted their first mission from t ...more
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