Challenging Injustice, Advancing Human Rights

Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War

Ken Burns presents the story of UUSC’s founders

In September 2016, PBS aired Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War, a new documentary directed by Ken Burns and Artemis Joukowsky that tells the story of Martha and Waitstill Sharp, two of UUSC’s founders.

The film explores the lives and work of the Sharps, a young Unitarian minister and his wife, as they undertook vital missions in Nazi-occupied Europe to rescue Jews, dissidents, and refugee children at great personal sacrifice. As the film’s website describes:

“Drawing from the couple’s journals & letters, with Tom Hanks providing the voice of Waitstill Sharp, along with compelling commentary from people they saved as well as holocaust scholars, the film is a suspenseful and intimate look into the lives of a husband & wife willing to risk their lives to save others.”

UUSC urges you to use this film as a unique opportunity to deepen your commitment to social justice and the values that Sharps embodied. Resources for discussion, dialogue, and outreach are available below.

Seize this moment to explore a rich history of advancing human rights and carry on the Sharps’ legacy of courage and compassion. To learn more about the film and companion book, visit the Defying the Nazis website. For more information and congregational resources, visit

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