Martha Ingham Sharp

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Martha Ingham Sharp (Dickie)

Birthplace: Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Wife of Waitstill Hastings Sharp

Managed by: William Tully
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Martha Ingham Sharp

Martha Ingham Dickie Sharp-Cogan (1905 - 1999) was an American philanthropist who, along with her husband Waitstill Sharp, helped hundreds of Jews to escape Nazi persecution by sending them off through Czechoslovakia.


In 1995 Varian Fry, The American Schindler, became the first United States citizen to be listed in the Righteous Among the Nations at Israel's national Holocaust Memorial, Yad Vashem. In the summer of 2006, Martha's and Waitstill's names were added to the wall in Israel for Gentiles who risked their own lives in helping as many escape the Holocaust as they could. To date {2010} Fry and the Sharps are the only three Americans so honored.

In 1939, the Rev. Waitstill Sharp, 37, a Unitarian minister, and his wife, Martha, 33, of Wellesley, Massachusetts, left their two young children behind and arrived in Czechoslovakia a month before the German occupation and began assisting Prague's growing refugee population.

Over the next two years, the Sharps helped secure food, shelter, visas, and freedom for hundreds of Jews and non-Jews targeted by the Nazi regime. They seldom spoke publicly about their work abroad.

The Sharps' first trip abroad ended in August 1939, with the Gestapo closing in on them and Martha facing imminent arrest. Less than a year later, they headed for Lisbon under the auspices of the newly formed Unitarian Service Committee. As much of southern France soon fell under Vichy control, the Sharps focused on two especially vulnerable constituencies: prominent intellectuals and refugee children.

Artemis Joukowsky, their grandson, said:

Waitstill and Martha learned the legal and illegal escape routes out of occupied France. They traded money on the black market in order to bribe border guards and pay for rail, air, or sea transportation for the refugees. On occasion, they personally escorted high-profile refugees out of France.

The refugees included Nobel laureate physicist Otto Meyerhof and writers Heinrich Mann (brother of Thomas), Franz Werfel (The Song of Bernadette), and Lion Feuchtwanger (Proud Destiny). Feuchtwanger's rescue from Marseilles was particularly dangerous, and therefore of special interest to Yad Vashem, because his name had been posted on the Nazi's most wanted list.

Dr. Mordecai Paldiel, director of Yad Vashem's Righteous Among the Nations Department, wrote in an e-mail that the commission was particularly impressed by Martha Sharp's heroism:

Sharp, who dressed up as a French farming woman, accompanied Lion Feuchtwanger on a risky train ride from Marseilles to the Franco-Spanish border. She then distracted . . . Spanish border guards so Feuchtwanger's false identity would not be discovered. ....


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Martha Ingham Sharp's Timeline

Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Age 94