Is Transatlantic on Netflix based on a true story?



Netflix will be dropping its period drama Transatlantic on Friday, April 7 with a total of seven episodes in the show. Transatlantic boasts a large international cast including Corey Stoll, Luke Thompson, Gillian Jacobs and Corey Michael Smith, Jonas Nay and Amit Rahav, among others.

Is Transatlantic on Netflix based on a true story?

Yes, is the simple answer with the seven-part drama serving as an adaptation of Julie Orringer’s 2019 novel The Flight Portfolio, which follows journalist Varian Fry (played by Smith), Mary-Jayne Gold (Jacobs) and Albert Hirschmann (Lucas Englander).

The show follows the work of the Emergency Rescue Committee (ERC) during World War II and helped between an estimated 2,000 and 4,000 refugees escape from Marseilles and the Nazis.

Transatlantic features a mixture of real-life figures and characters created for the story.

Among the historical figures include Andre Breton, Hannah Arendt, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, and Marc Chagall.

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The ERC has now become the International Rescue Committee (IRC) after merging with the International Relief Association, which was founded in 1933 by physicist Albert Einstein.

The two organisations became the ERC in 1942 and have been helping displaced peoples all over the world fleeing from conflict and natural disasters.

With the current refugee crisis, Transatlantic is likely to strike a chord among audiences with clear parallels between 1933 and 2023.

As the TV show highlights, Fry worked tirelessly with others to help anti-Nazi and Jewish refugees escape the Holocaust after witnessing the horrors of the Third Reich firsthand while serving as a foreign correspondent for the American journal The Living Age.

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Some of Fry’s supporters included Mary Jayne Gold, who was an American heiress living in France in the 1930s, and American sculptor and painter Miriam Davenport.

Fry was also helped by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to set up the ERC.

Gold helped to finance the ERC with young academic and economist Albert O. Hirschman also aiding the organisation.

Others who helped Fry were the American Vice Consul in Marseilles Hiram Bingham IV (Thompson), who obtained visas for refugees and Museum Director at the MoMa Alfred Barr and his wife and art historian Margaret Scolari Barr.

Transatlantic’s creator and showrunner Anna Winger opened up about the story being “close to my heart” and said she was drawn to “journeys from darkness into light”.

Speaking about making the series, Winger said: “When I was growing up in the United States, my parents were professors. Many of their colleagues and friends had come over as refugees during WWII.

“Their deeply affecting stories of getting out of Europe were the stuff of local legend—some with the Kindertransport, some via Shanghai, others via Japan—and a few were helped by Varian Fry. Two had even worked with him in Marseille.”

Winger has now been living in Berlin for two decades and said the influx of refugees from Syria and Afghanistan to Germany in 2015 had touched the lives of people in Germany “profoundly”.

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