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Surrender on Demand by Varian Fry; Preface by Warren Christopher (94,000 words, 21 illustrations)

Varian Fry, a young editor from New York, traveled to Marseilles after Germany defeated France in the summer of 1940. As the representative of the Emergency Rescue Committee, a private American relief organization, he offered aid and advice to refugees who found themselves threatened with extradition to Nazi Germany under Article 19 of the Franco-German armistice — the “Surrender on Demand” clause.

Fry risked his life to rescue those targeted by the Gestapo in “the most gigantic man-trap in history.” Working day and night with a few associates in opposition to France’s Vichy government and to American authorities, his elaborate rescue network managed to spirit more than 1,500 people — including prominent European politicians, artists, writers and scientists — to safety by the time Fry was expelled from France after 13 months.


Surrender on Demand is by turns wildly exciting, horrifying and exalting. Certainly, there has never been another book like it... Varian Fry is a good man. Through the people he has helped rescue — the doctors, the painters, the writers, the sculptors, the teachers — he has added to the sum total of the world’s happiness... an astonishingly good book.” — Russell Maloney, The New York Times

Surrender on Demand contains enough intrigue and conspiracy, enough narrow escapes and shady and flamboyant characters for three or four spy stories. But Mr. Fry has not written it for excitement... He has put down some plain and eloquent facts.” — Orville Prescott, The New York Times

“I have read and heard many accounts of escapes from Europe... but none surpasses this restrained and factual narrative in suspense and excitement... It tells of many triumphs and some defeats: it depicts with vividness and often with humor a large number of interesting and frequently distinguished persons; it describes the endless obstacles encountered and the ingenious and constantly changing shifts and devices contrived to overcome them; and throughout it makes one feel the undercurrent of potential tragedy which too often became actual.” —
New York Herald Tribune Weekly Book Review

“A novelist would hardly dare pack a novel with so many hair-breath escapes.” — Lewis Gannett,
New York Herald Tribune

“... a brilliant
exposé of the work accomplished by [Fry] in Marseille during the tragic days that followed the French defeat... Surrender on Demand is a unique contribution to the underground history of the war.” — Josef Forman, Free World

“There are a larger number of highly exciting and almost unbelievable stories in this deeply moving but often also highly amusing book. Friends of light adventure novels will undoubtedly like it. And friends of humanity will see much more in it than an adventure story although it deals with forging passports, with hiding and escaping from detectives, with secret messages hidden in a toothpaste tube, and with an underground railroad over a well protected border. They will see in it a memorial to the man who made what he modestly calls ‘an experiment in democratic solidarity’ and also to the women and men who sent him on his dangerous mission.” — Henry B. Kranz,
Saturday Review