Documentary celebrating the Irish aid worker who saved the lives of many Jewish children during WW11
"It’s estimated that at least 80 children were directly saved by Mary Elmes. She never sought any attention for her actions, and her story has only recently become known".
In her new radio documentary feature, ‘Mary Elmes’, premiering this weekend on Newstalk 106-108fm as part of the Documentary On Newstalk Series, producer Bairbre Flood tells the extraordinary true story of Irish relief worker, Mary Elmes, who smuggled dozens of children to safety during WW2.
The radio premiere of ‘Mary Elmes’ airs on Newstalk 106-108fm on Sunday 31st May at 7am, with a repeat broadcast airing on Saturday 6th June at 9pm.
In ‘Mary Elmes’, producer Bairbre Flood tells the story of the only Irish person recognised as ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ for saving Jewish children during the Holocaust.
Mary Elmes was an Irish aid worker credited with saving the lives of dozens of Jewish children during the Holocaust, by hiding them in the boot of her car.
A fascinating character for many reasons, her work during the Spanish Civil War and then in Rivesaltes Refugee Camp in the South of France are noteworthy even in themselves. But it’s for risking her life, rescuing Jewish refugees who were being sent to concentration camps that she’ll be most remembered.
Her story raises all kinds of questions about moral courage and humanitarianism - and contrasts sharply with the official policy of the Irish government during the Holocaust.
Producer Bairbre Flood talks to Ronald Friend and Charlotte Berger-Greneche (two of the people whose lives she saved), her biographers Clodagh Finn and Paddy Butler, her family, long-time Quaker researchers Bernard and Janet Wilson, Mervyn O’Driscoll (Head of History, UCC), and Heino Schonfeld of the Holocaust Education Trust Ireland.
It’s estimated that at least 80 children were directly saved by Mary Elmes. She never sought any attention for her actions, and her story has only recently become known.
‘She was not alone. There were a lot of people doing the same thing with her. She couldn’t do all that without other people,’ - Mary’s daughter, Caroline.
Caroline pointed out that her mother never desired recognition for her work, eschewing a saviour narrative, and acknowledging the many people who worked together to do what they could under dire circumstances.
And yet, there’s no doubt Mary Elmes was a remarkable woman - a humanitarian who ‘had a tremendous ability and persistence to do what was right,’ as her cousin, Mark Elmes puts it. ‘She stuck with it through thick and thin, and all she was concerned about were the victims.
The radio premiere of ‘Mary Elmes’ airs on Newstalk 106-108fm on Sunday 31st May at 7am, with a repeat broadcast airing on Saturday 6th June at 9pm. Podcast goes live after first broadcast.
CREDITS: ‘Mary Elmes’ was produced by Bairbre Flood and funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the Television License Fee. as part of the Sound And Vision Scheme.funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the Television License Fee. as part of the Sound And Vision Scheme
PODCAST: ‘Mary Elmes’ is broadcast as part of the Documentary and Drama On Newstalk Series, which showcases the best of original, homegrown and groundbreaking Irish Radio features. Podcast full series here:
Sound And Vision Funding Scheme: Sound and Vision is a funding scheme for television and radio that provides funding in support of high quality programmes on Irish culture, heritage and experience, and programmes to improve adult literacy. The scheme is managed by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.