Life & Culture

New Holocaust series from Unorthodox creator coming to Netflix in April

The story will focus on the heroes who rescued Jews from Nazi-occupied France


A new seven-episode limited series about the evacuation of Jewish refugees during the Holocaust is coming to Netflix on April 7, from ‘Unorthodox’ creator Anna Winger and based off the novel “The Flight Portfolio” by Julia Orringer.

‘Transatlantic’ is a fictionalised retelling of the phenomenal real story of Protestant American journalist Varian Fry who, in 1940 at great personal risk, helped to form the Emergency Rescue Committee. The ERC oversaw the rescue and transportation to America of Jewish refugees and anti-Nazi dissidents from Nazi-occupied France.

Along with American heiress Mary Jayne Gold and German economist Albert Hirschman, Mr Fry and the ERC helped to save the lives of between 2,000-4,000 prominent thought leaders, artists, and writers, some of whom appeared on the Nazi’s most-wanted list.

Among those rescued by Mr Fry were Jewish writer Franz Werfel, poet and writer Andrew Breton, painter and sculptor Max Ernst, and the relatives of novelist Thomas Mann. For his heroic efforts, Mr Fry became the first American to be named ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ in 1994 by Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum.

“Gotham” actor Cory Michael Smith will star as Varian Fry, alongside “Community” star Gillian Jacobs as American heiress Mary Jayne Gold. The series will also star American Jewish actor Corey Stoll from “House of Cards”, Israeli “Unorthodox” star Amit Rahav, and “The Witcher” star Lucas Englander, who will play Mr Hirschman.

As a journalist writing for The New York Times in occupied France in 1935, Mr Fry saw first-hand the plight of Jews under Nazi occupation and how they were brutalised freely in public without repercussions.

The series will depict how Mr Fry and his collaborators rented the “Villa Bel Air” outside the city of Marseilles where refugees were housed secretly until they could arrange for their transportation to America. Despite pressure from American authorities, who saw Mr Fry as meddling with international relations and intruding into America’s official position of neutrality, he continued his smuggling efforts until his arrest in August 1941.

Mr Fry continued to write about the plight of Jews in Europe even after being kicked out of France. His writings, notably “The Massacre of the Jews” which was published in The New Republic in 1942, were some of the first to be published in America about the horrors of the Holocaust.

The ERC went on to become part of the International Relief Association, which was founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein to assist refugees fleeing the Nazi regime. It has since become known as the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and has helped over 20 million refugees in more than 40 countries since its founding.

In a Netflix press release, creator Anna Winger said: “The human ability to live fully, find joy and keep a sense of humour even in the darkest of times lies at the heart of Transatlantic, I can’t wait to bring audiences into this story.”

‘Transatlantic’ will premiere on Netflix on April 7 as a seven-episode limited series.

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