VARIAN & PUTZI: A 20th Century Tale
A Cinematic Mix of Biography and History
NTSC / 80 min; B/W & Color 

Varian & Putzi examines the lives of Varian Fry and Ernst ‘Putzi’ Hanfstaengl–hero and anti-hero– in the context of 20th century history and their differing responses to the cataclysmic events of their times.

Varian Fry—Harvard Graduate, class of 1931; writer, journalist, teacher; organizer of Clandestine Rescue Operation in 1940 that saved hundreds of Europe’s intellectual and artistic elite.

“In his life, [Varian Fry] was endlessly looking for himself and for the man he truly was.”    –Andy Marino, author, A Quiet American, The Secret War of Varian Fry

Ernst “Putzi” Hanfstaengl—Harvard Graduate, class of 1909; early supporter and confidant of Hitler; Foreign Press Chief of the Nazi Party; secret wartime advisor to Franklin Roosevelt.

“Putzi Hanfstaengl was constitutionally incapable of fitting in. He was an eternal exile; always apart, never at home.” David Marwell, author, Unwanted Exile: A Biography of Ernst “Putzi” Hanfstaengl

Varian Fry and Ernst “Putzi” Hanfstaengl met only once in 1935.  At that meeting, Putzi, then Foreign Press Chief of the Nazi Party, revealed to his fellow Harvard alumnus the Nazi’s plan to “exterminate” the Jews of Europe.  The impact of what Fry was told changed the course of his life. This documentary examines the lives of these two men, one a hero who rescued hundreds, the other an anti-hero who betrayed his fatherland when he became a secret wartime advisor to President Roosevelt.

Varian and Putzi: A 20th Century Tale is a compelling exploration of some of the twists and turns of twentieth-century history, a tale of circumstance and choice, and a recounting of two men’s personal journey through this history, and of their differing responses to the events of their times, and how the actions of a single individual can affect its course.