American couple honored for saving Jews during WWII

In a ceremony at the memorial, Martha and Waitstill Sharp became only the second and third Americans to be inducted into the memorial's "Righteous Among the Nations" group for non-Jews who saved Jews.

Six million Jews were killed by the Nazis and their collaborators, part of the Nazi "final solution" aimed at wiping out the Jews of Europe.

The Sharps left their home in Boston to travel to Prague in 1939, where they helped hundreds of refugees escape the Nazi occupiers of Czechoslovakia. There they had to burn evidence of their work when they fled the country six months later as the Nazis marched into Prague.

Later, they traveled to Lisbon, where they helped refugees flee Nazi-occupied France into Spain, then Portugal and then to the United States.

A grandson of the Sharps, Artemis Joukowski III, said it was their ability to work well with little funds and their social skills that made them good at sneaking people out of Europe to the United States. Joukowski accepted the honor for his grandparents at the Yad Vashem ceremony.

Waitstill Sharp, a minister, and Martha Sharp, a social worker, were sent by the Unitarian Service Committee to try to save people during the war. As part of their work, the couple had to bribe Spanish border guards with cigarettes, build connections with U.S. missions to obtain visas, sometimes without U.S. State Department approval, and find Americans to adopt refugee children.

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