Defying Hate

anti-nazi"Defying the Nazis: The Sharps' War"

Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016 at 9 p.m. on KCTS9


In 1939 a Unitarian couple, Waitstill and Martha Sharp, risked their lives so Jews, dissidents, and children in Nazi-occupied Europe could live. Over two years they courageously saved hunderds of people. Directed by Ken Burns and Artemis Joukowsky III, the Sharps’ grandson, this new PBS film tells the Sharps' story.

This mission provided a foundation for the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), an international organization which continues to bring justice to people in need around the world. UUSC tells us a little about the Sharps' work.

They invented codes for the records they kept to avoid being discovered when their homes were raided and searched. They created false travel documents for some of the people they rescued to help them get past border guards. They kept moving west as the Nazi blitzkrieg rolled through Poland, Belgium, and France

And perhaps most difficult of all, they arranged for parents to send their children away from home and into the hands of strangers in order to keep them safe, knowing that for many of these families, it would be the last time they ever saw each other.

Watch the film trailer.


For those who like to absorb a story through reading, check out the book at Beacon Press: Defying the Nazis - The Sharps' War.

Tradition of social justice

The Sharps' story illustrates the Unitarian tradition of engaging in social justice work.

Another example of Unitarian Universalism justice work is that their publishing house, Beacon Press, published the Pentagon Papers to help bring an end to the Vietnam War. Many other publishers turned down the project, but the brave people at Beacon Press stepped forward to act with their conscience.