One of the great parts of being an author is speaking to audiences about my books. While I enjoy every group, some are extra special. Recently I had the opportunity to travel to Miami, Florida, to share my book In Defiance of Hitler: The Secret Mission of Varian Fry. This book is about Varian Fry, an American journalist who volunteered to go to Nazi controlled France in 1940 to order to rescue (mostly) Jewish refugees whose lives were in danger. This true story of one man who believed he could make a difference is filled with intrigue and danger. Ultimately, Varian Fry rescued more than 2000 people. Yet few Americans have ever heard his name.
I was invited by the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach to share the work of Varian Fry as part of Holocaust Education Week. They asked me to speak to three different audiences. The first night, I presented my program for the public at the Holocaust Memorial. It was an honor to speak about rescue during the Holocaust at a place dedicated to the memory of so many who were not rescued. Every Holocaust Memorial is different, and here the centerpiece is the massive statue of a hand reaching toward the sky with human figures huddled around the bottom. The sculpture is powerful and moving. It says so much-silently. In the audience that night, listening to my program were Holocaust survivors and the descendants of some who had been killed at Auschwitz.
The next morning I spoke to university students at Miami Dade College. Many in the audience – including one of the administrators – had come to American as refugees. As I shared about the refugees of 1940 leaving their homes, these young adults understood the concept in a much more personal way than my usual audience does.
In the afternoon, I presented my program to students at a private Jewish high school. These modern American students carrying their backpacks entered the room and chatted as they took their seats. While relating the work of Varian Fry, I told them about several people who helped him. One of them was a seventeen-year-old boy named Justus Rosenberg. He was their age and his life was in danger because he was Jewish. Rosenberg survived but countless other teens didn’t.
I shared the work of Varian Fry with three different audiences in Miami. Each one was very special.
Carla Killough McClafferty
We are currently running a giveaway for IN DEFENSE OF READ-ALOUD that ends at midnight on April 1. (CORRECTION NOTE: There was a typo in an earlier post that said the end date was April 6. The correct end date is April 1.) For more details see Esther Hershenhorn’s post:http://www.teachingauthors.com/2015/03/a-two-for-price-of-one-interview-with.html