Anya Schiffrin teaches at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She is the editor of the books Global Muckraking: 100 Years of Investigative Reporting from Around the World (2014) and African Muckraking: 75 Years of African Investigative Journalism from Africa (2018). (October 2019)

Follow Anya Schiffrin on Twitter: @anyaSIPA.


How Varian Fry Helped My Family Escape the Nazis

Jacqueline Breton, André Masson, André Breton, and Varian Fry at the Villa Air-Bel, near Marseille, France, 1941

During the year he spent in Marseille, from 1940 to 1941, the American journalist Varian Fry and his colleagues created a rescue network that saved at least 2,000 people from the Nazis—including Hannah Arendt, Marc Chagall, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Arthur Koestler, Max Ophüls, Anna Seghers, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and scores of other writers, artists, and philosophers. Fry was tenacious and creative in his means of getting people visas and onto boats in a desperate rush against time. Because of his extra-legal methods, Fry was shunned by the US Consul in Marseille. But the refugee rescue organization that Fry and his helpers built has been credited with saving from annihilation a crucial piece of European culture.