Portrait of Martha Sharp standing next to a fireplace.
Photograph | Photograph Number: 98285
1930 - 1945
- Photo Designation
RESCUE MISSIONS -- Diplomatic Rescue -- France: American Rescue Missions -- Sharp/Unitarian Service Committee
- Photo Credit
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Renee Rizzoni
Portrait of Martha Sharp standing next to a fireplace.
- Renee Suzanne Goldschmied (1928- ) is the daughter of Albin Rudolph Goldschmied (1897-1990) and Louise (nee Ohs) Goldschmied (1902-1998). Albin was the son of Leopold Goldschmied (1863-1942) and Katerina (nee Pick) Goldschmied (1859-1938). Leopold was born in Nagy Abon, Hungary, where his family owned a vineyard, and Katerina was born in Rohozov, Bohemia. They met and married in Prague, where Albin and his older brother, Josef, were born. Louise was the daughter of Bernhard Ohs (1852-1934) and Rosa Kamilla (nee Lowenthal) Ohs (1863-1942). Bernhard was born in Pisek, Bohemia, and served as a diplomat and press chief at the German embassy. Rosa was born in Dessau, Prussia, and was a published poet. She became deaf at the age of 17 as a result of scarlet fever, but was able to read lips and maintain communication with her family. Like her mother Rosa, Louise was a poet, as well as an artist and a dancer. Albin held a PhD in philosophy and taught pedagogy at the German Music Conservatory. Albin and Louise met at the bank were they had both been employed, married, and had one daughter, Renee, who studied at a French elementary school.
After the Nazis occupied Prague, Albin lost his teaching position. Although he had been an active member of the Unitarian church, he was of Jewish heritage so he, Louise, and Renee were forced to leave their apartment and lost almost everything. Through the Unitarian church, they met Waitstill and Martha Sharp, who worked with the Unitarian Service Committee. The Sharps aided the Goldschmied family in securing non-quota visas and helped them escape via train to Utrecht, Netherlands, where they stayed briefly with the family of a clergyman. They then traveled from Rotterdam on board the S.S. Noordam, arriving in New York on November 15, 1939. Louise’s mother, Rosa, was unable to obtain a visa, and remained in Prague. She was deported to Theresienstadt on July 13, 1942, then to another camp where she was killed on October 15, 1942. Albin’s older brother, Josef, married a U.S. citizen, Evelyn Steiner. Josef, Evelyn, and their son Harry (1926-2011) were able to immigrate to the United States in 1942.
The Sharps arranged teaching positions for Albin and Louise at the Chapel Hill School at Waltham, Massachusetts. Albin later taught at Middlesex University (later to become Brandeis University) in Waltham, while Louise took a position as a reference librarian at their medical school. After becoming U.S. citizens in 1945, they changed their last name to Gilbert. For the next two-and-a-half years, Albin worked as Educational Advisor to the American forces in Bavaria, Germany, Louise and Renee joined him later, and Louise taught art while continuing her career as a painter. After their return to the U.S., Renee attended Wheaton College where Albin became a professor of psychology and Louise a librarian. After college Renee became a social worker. In 1954, Renee married Eitel Rizzoni (1925-2011), and they went on to have two children, Walter and Vanessa (now Vanessa Sheldon). The Goldschmied and Sharp families maintained a close relationship throughout their lifetimes.
Martha Sharp was born on April 25, 1905, to British immigrants to America, James Edward Ingham and Elizabeth Alice Whelan. In her youth, Martha and her family worshipped at the First Baptist Church in Providence, Rhode Island. Martha attended Pembroke College, the woman's affiliate of Brown University. Upon completion, Martha studied Social Work at Northwestern University's Recreation Training School which centered in Hull House in Chicago. After completing her training, Martha became Director of Girl's Work and served as a social worker aiding over 500 girls.
Waitstill Sharp was born on May 1, 1902 to Dallas Sharp and Grace Hastings. Waitstill graduated from Boston University with degrees in history and economics; he went on to attend Harvard Law School. Immediately thereafter, Waitstill served as Secretary of the Department of Religious Education at the American Unitarian Association (AUA). In 1928, Martha and Waitstill married, immediately thereafter Waitstill enrolled in a masters program at Harvard Divinity School. Waitstill was ordained a minister in 1933 and assigned to a church in Meadville, Pennsylvania. Martha assisted him by organizing youth work along with educational and women's gatherings. In February, 1939, the AUA chose the Sharps to aid emigration and relief in Czechoslovakia, focusing on the safety of intellectuals and anti-Nazi political leaders. On March 23, 1939, Martha escorted thirty-five refugees including journalists, political leaders, and two children whose parents had committed suicide, to England. The remainder of the Sharp's work in Czechoslovakia was assisting emigration by: registering people, counseling them about U.S. emigration laws and quotas, attempting to get people with quota numbers released from prison, facilitating communication between Czechoslovakian and American government officials, arranging transportation to safer countries, aiding expenses, and securing a few scholarships for Czech students in the United States. The Sharps accomplished this by traveling separately and taking their curriculum vitae to contacts in London, Paris, and Geneva; these cities often provided job offers and sponsors, and initiated emigration procedures.
The Sharp's left Europe on August 30, 1939. Upon their return to America, they helped launch the Unitarian Service Committee (USC) dedicated to investigating opportunities in both America and abroad for humanitarian service. By request of the USC, the Sharps returned to Europe on June 20, 1940. They spent their first few weeks in Lisbon, Portugal arranging for a shipment of condensed milk from the Nestle Company to Marseille, France. Once the Sharps arrived in Marseilles, they established a center of operations to transport relief supplies to the Pau region of France. Waitstill returned to Lisbon to as the representative of the Emergency Rescue Committee (ERC). During his time there, Waitstill aided the rescue of individuals such as: Nobel Prize winning biochemist Otto Myerhoff, writers Lion Feuchtwanger, Franz Werfel, Heinrich Mann, and their various family members.
Martha remained in Marseilles, France, to finish the child emigration project with Helen Lowrie, another USC volunteer. This project became a collaborative effort between the USC and the United States Committee for the Care of European Children. From September 15, 1940 to November 25, 1940, Martha and Helen obtained exit visas, permits, and various other documents necessary to arrange for the emigration of twenty-seven children and ten adults. In 1944, Martha became acting director of the Lisbon office and remained there until 1945. By May 1945, Martha facilitated the emigration of twenty Spanish Republicans to Venezuala and seventy-five to Mexico. Martha and Waitstill Sharp were named Righteous Gentiles by Yad Vashem in 2006.
- Photo Source
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial MuseumProvenance: Renee Rizzoni
Record last modified: 2020-03-11 00:00:00
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/pa1184225