New Burns film 'Defying the Nazis' to get advance screening before Sept. 20 on-air debut
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Ken Burns' "Defying the Nazis" will screen Thursday.

By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer

An American minister and his wife who risked their lives to save refugees from Nazi Germany will be profiled in a new documentary co-directed by Ken Burns.

Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War, from Burns and Artemis Joukowsky, will premiere at 8 p.m. Sept. 20 on PBS.

Panhandle PBS will partner with the Amarillo Unitarian Universalist Fellowship for a free advance screening of the film at 7 p.m. Thursday at the fellowship, 4901 Cornell Street.

The film tells the story of Waitstill and Martha Sharp, a Unitarian minister and his wife from Wellesley, Mass., who left their children behind in the care of their parish and boldly committed to multiple life-threatening missions in Europe.

Over two dangerous years, they helped to save hundreds of imperiled political dissidents and Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi occupation across Europe.

“The story of Waitstill and Martha Sharp is one of the most incredible tales of compassion, sacrifice and heroism that I have ever heard, and I was completely unaware of it until five years ago when Artemis Joukowsky first shared it with me,” Burns said. “Nearly three years before America as a nation became involved in the Second World War, these two unassuming, so-called ‘ordinary’ Americans gave up everything they knew and loved and risked their lives to become involved in a war 4,000 miles away because they knew there were people in grave danger who needed help.”  

For more information on the screening, please call 806-355-9351. 



Chip Chandler is a digital content producer for Panhandle PBS. He can be contacted at, at @chipchandler1 on Twitter and at on Facebook.