Yad Vashem recognizes first American woman
By Mary Korr
Her escape from
Feigl spoke at a tribute to her rescuer held Nov. 14 at Brown Hillel. “I proudly stand up before you as one of the children Mrs. Sharp saved,” Feigl, 79, said. “Even as a child, I knew she helped us because she was a fine human being.”
She said six of the nine Jewish children who came over with her are still living, including “the Diamant triplets from
Rabbi Serena Eisenberg, executive director at Hillel, said Sharp became known as the “guardian angel of European children.” She rescued thousands.
Sharp was a 1926 graduate of Brown. She then trained as a social worker in Hull House in
Sharp’s daughter, Martha Sharp Joukowsky, is a professor emerita at Brown.
She said her mother was “noble, brave and without pretense.”
Sharp and her then husband, the late Rev. Waitstill Sharp, a Unitarian minister, first went to
Yad Vashem has also recognized him as “Righteous Among the Nations.”
They are only the second and third Americans to be recognized; their names will be inscribed in June on the Wall of Honor in the
In March, the Nazis took over
When the Sharps accepted a second mission, this time to Lisbon and Marseilles, in 1940, their greatest pain was in leaving their two children, ages 2 and 6, again. In a letter to her son Hastings, she wrote: “Here in France children do not have enough food or milk…the children are cold and sick…I must give up seeing you until your birthday — and what a celebration it will be…”
Coincidentally, the event at Brown was held on Hastings Sharp’s 65th birthday.
“And what a celebration this is,” Sharp’s daughter said.
Sharp’s grandson, Artemis Joukowsky, and Keene State College filmmakers are shooting a documentary on his grandmother. It is expected to air on PBS this summer.
At the reception, another grandson, Misha Joukowsky, said his grandmother “would march in her high heels right into the internment camps and ask to see the commandant,” he said. “She never gave up.”
Jane Joukowsky, who married into the family, remembered meeting the matriarch of the family. “Her first words to me were: ‘What have you done to save the world today?’ ”