Ken Burns says new Nazi documentary evokes refugees’ plight

Historians in the News
tags: Nazi, Ken Burns



When Ken Burns screened clips of his latest documentary at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, a fearful woman approached him and asked, “Is this going to happen to us again?”

The documentary, “Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War,” tells the story of a Wellesley, Massachusetts, couple who rescued refugees and dissidents in Europe before and after the start of World War II. It airs on PBS on Tuesday, the day Democratic President Barack Obama and other world leaders host a summit aimed at securing new commitments to support today’s refugees.

The parallels to today weren’t lost on Burns, who co-directed the film with the couple’s grandson Artemis Joukowsky.

“It’s about sacrifice, and it’s about cost,” Burns said. “We live in a very narcissistic age, and people don’t make those gestures, or at least we live in a media culture that does not isolate and focus on people who make these kinds of selfless gestures without the PR attached to it.”

He added: “And it’s about resonance, because we now find ourselves in a refugee crisis in the world that is only second to the second World War, and we’ve got to figure out what we’re going to do and what kind of people we are. Are we going to be guided by fear and demagoguery, or are we going to be guided by compassion, love and sacrifice?” ...




comments powered by Disqus