In 1939, Waitstill and Martha Sharp left behind the safety of their home in Wellesley, Massachusetts and flew to war-torn Europe. In Nazi-occupied Prague and Paris, in the grim detention camps of Vichy France and on hidden trails through the Pyrenees, they risked their lives to help feed, shelter, and rescue thousands of refugees, including anti-Nazi dissidents and Jews.
Why did this Unitarian minister and his social worker wife undertake such a demanding mission? How did they help those in need, and what are their legacies today?
For their work in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia and Vichy France, the Sharps have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem—the highest recognition accorded by the state of Israel to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during World War II. They are two of only three Americans to be so honored.