Assignment: Rescue, The Story of Varian Fry and the Emergency Rescue Committee

November 23, 1997 - March 29, 1998

A dramatic installation recounts the daring mission of Varian Fry, who was responsible for rescuing some 2,500 Jews and opponents of the Nazis, including such great figures as Marc Chagall, Hannah Arendt, Max Ernst, and Jacques Lipchitz.

This exhibition recounts in a dramatic installation the daring mission of Varian Fry, an editor at the Foreign Policy Association in New York, who was responsible for rescuing some 2,500 Jews and opponents of the Nazis, including such great figures as Marc Chagall, Hannah Arendt, Max Ernst, and Jacques Lipchitz.

Based in Marseilles in Vichy France, Fry’s Emergency Rescue Committee arranged clandestine passage out of Southern France for Jews and political refugees who otherwise could be “surrendered upon demand” to the Gestapo. Among those rescued were some of the great artists, writers, and intellectuals of Europe, including Marc Chagall, André Masson, Hannah Arendt, Max Ernst, Jacques Lipchitz, Franz Werfel, and André Bréton.

Fry, who died in 1967, has only recently been recognized as a hero whose courage and defiance enabled many of the century’s most important cultural figures to flee to safety. Through a wealth of photographic materials, artifacts, and related documents, as well as a fascinating evocation of many key aspects of his mission to France in 1940–41, Assignment: Rescue, The Story of Varian Fry and the Emergency Rescue Committee illuminates Fry’s dangerous, yet remarkable operation.

This exhibition was reorganized for the showing at the Jewish Museum by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum with gratitude to Annette Riley Fry, Sylvia Varian Fry and James Duncan Fry.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum acknowledges major new grants from American Express Company and The Florence Gould Foundation. Generous contributors include Lester Robbins (deceased) and Sheila Johnson Robbins and Bell Atlantic.
The exhibition at the Jewish Museum is supported by the Keller-Shatanoff Foundation, Irving and Yetta Geszel, and The Joe and Emily Lowe Foundation, with additional funding from the Alfred J. Grunebaum Memorial Fund. Assignment: Rescue education and public programs are supported by a grant from American Express Company.