Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ask not for whom the bell tolls: The death of Charles Fernley Fawcett

You probably read the title of this post and wondered "Charles Fernley Fawcett? Who's that? And why the rather melodramatic heading of 'for whom the bell tolls'?"

Charles Fernley Fawcett worked with Varian Fry [another too little known name] after the fall of France in 1940 to get desperate refugees out of the country. Many made their way to the United States where, in addition to finding refuge, they changed the face of American and, ultimately, all of Western culture.

Among the people saved by Fry with Fawcett's help were
Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, Jacques Lipchitz, Heinrich Mann, Franz Werfel, Alma Mahler Werfel, André Breton, Victor Serge, André Masson, Lion Feuchtwanger, Konrad Heiden, Hannah Arendt.

For more on Fawcett you can go to the page the Varian Fry Institute. You will also learn there about the forthcoming documentary by Pierre Sauvage who did the compelling documentary [a must see] on Le Chambon, Weapons of the Spirit.

Often this blog devotes space to characters who do no good and who do much bad. It's nice to devote space, even at this sad moment, to someone who did so much good.

When he is buried in London the bells will be tolling for all of us, given how he risked his life to do good. May his memory be for a blessing.


John-Paul said...

In related news, Sir Nicholas Winton, the "British Oskar Schindler" who saved 669 children from the Nazis, has been nominated for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize.

Andy said...

Dear Professor Lipstadt

Charlie was a good friend of mine, and I first got to know him and his dear wife, April, while writing my book about Varian Fry.

I was glad to see your kind note on his death, and, having read some others on the web, following the publication of the newspaper obituaries, I wonder if Charlie is about to find a second fame.

His funeral is in London on Monday, Feb 18, and I will be speaking there at April's request. Incidentally, he will not be buried but cremated. On Wednesday we are traveling to Paris, with his daughter from his first marriage, to scatter half his ashes on the Seine. The other half will return to Greenville, SC.


Andy Marino

jar said...

Charlie Fawcett was a great friend, when I lived in Rome back in the 60's. I will never forget him. I posted a verbal remembrance of Charlie on Countessa Isabella Vacani's blog, as well as this recent slide show I created in memory of Charlie, posted on YouTube.

Here's the link to Isabella's blog:


Jeanne Rejaunier