Adapted from Julie Orringer’s novel, “The Flight Portfolio,” the Netflix drama miniseries, “Transatlantic” revisits the incidents of 1940 when the world witnessed its second most tragic war, the World War II. The series centers on the Emergency Rescue Committee, which was founded by an American intellectual, Varian Fry, with the primary purpose of assisting Jewish refugees and artists in fleeing Nazi-controlled French territory to the United States. Together with Fry, an American heiress named Mary Jayne Gold continued to provide assistance to the refugees in whatever way she could. Despite hailing from an affluent family, Mary Jayne had a kind heart. Both Varian Fry and Mary Jayne played a significant role in the mission, which they accomplished, but they both had the misfortune of not being able to end up with the people they loved. Let’s learn more about these real-life personalities who were represented in the show from a fictitious point of view.
One of the series’ main protagonists was Varian Fry, who was an American journalist in real life. He went to Berlin while serving as a journalist for an American publication. In 1935, while living in Berlin, he conducted a close inspection of the Nazi party’s persecution of Jews. This experience haunted him long after he returned to America. His anti-Nazi sentiments stoked a rage inside of him, which inspired him to devise a plan to free the Jews from Nazi Germany. He knew that only by aiding them in their escape to the United States, could he actually rescue these refugees, who were at great risk living under the Nazis.
Varian, as a patron of art and literature, opted to free the Jewish authors and intellectuals by assisting them in escaping Marseille, controlled by the Vichy government. Varian Fry is shown in “Transatlantic” as an honorable man who only focuses on the mission and on legitimate ways to carry out the rescue efforts. Even though there was a financial crisis, he didn’t once consider straying from the path he’d chosen. He was never in control of his emotions, yet we witness him maintaining a secret love life and bonding with Thomas.
Despite being homosexual, he made the conscious decision to repress his impulses out of a fear of social rejection. Being a married man at the time, he respected the marriage by letting go of his relationship with Thomas. In 1940, attitudes toward homosexuality were quite similar to those toward mental health. People in that period frequently disregarded both of these factors. They were aware that homosexuality existed, but they decided to cover their eyes and refuse to acknowledge it. This mentality also affected Varian Fry. He knew his feelings for Thomas were real, but he didn’t pursue them because he worried the two of them wouldn’t be able to combat the biases of the entire nation. As a result, Varian and Thomas’s relationship did not have a happy ending. Varian decided to leave France with Marc Chagall, a Russian-French painter who was travelling with his wife.
Although it was somewhat disputed whether Varian Fry was truly gay or not, a number of his connections with other men have been mentioned. He had several relationships with men while being twice married and having three children, but he never expressed his thoughts in this respect, and we think it shouldn’t matter what his sexual orientation was. He made a significant contribution to freeing those defenseless immigrants from Nazi persecution, and for that, he will always be remembered.
Mary Jayne Gold
American heiress Mary Jayne Gold was born into a prosperous family. Yet, despite being a wealthy and well-educated woman who would not have been short on suitors, she chose to live in Paris instead of returning to America. She became involved in the rescue operation in Marseille, which was under the jurisdiction of the Vichy government, and teamed up with Varian Fry to help intellectuals and refugees depart Vichy for the United States. “Transatlantic” portrays her struggle with her decision to stay in France because of her father’s persistent requests for her to return home and, even worse, his cessation of financial support. However, for a strong and independent woman like Mary Jayne, returning home would have been an admission of defeat; thus, she continued in her pursuit of several opportunities to make money to support the rescue operations. Nonetheless, she is beginning to act impulsively at this point, as seen by her decision to sleep with Patterson in order to win his support. She even made the decision to join British Intelligence for financial reasons, and unlike Varian Fry, she didn’t care about the fact that her decision to join British Intelligence was treason in the eyes of the United States. Her decisions, however, did not always work out well for her or for her rescue committee. She fell in love with German refugee Albert Hirschman, but their relationship ended when he decided to join the resistance rather than settle down. Albert bid her goodbye and made the decision to remain in France to continue the revolution against the Nazis.
Mary Jane and Varian Fry were both real-life heroes who enabled large numbers of refugees from French territories to escape to the United States. Regardless of their personal relationships or whether they were real or fictional, they were some notable historical figures. Varian Fry and Mary Jayne Gould fought side by side against Nazi oppression, creating extraordinary remarks for which they will always be remembered.