Most of you probably know about Sir Nicholas Winton, but I did not until I ran into some posts about him on twitterworld today. So, here is some quick info on the incredible story about this hero, who supervised the rescue of 669 children, most of them Jewish, from Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II, in an operation known as the Czech Kindertransport. Most of the info below has been lifted from en.wikipedia.org/...
Winton’s work went unnoticed by the world for over 50 years, until 1988 when he was invited to the BBC television programme That's Life!, where he was reunited with several of the children that he had saved
Here is the video of that TV event that has been posted many times over the past few days -
Sir Nicholas Winton MBE (19 May 1909 – 1 July 2015), was born to German-Jewish parents who had emigrated to Britain.
Shortly before Christmas 1938, Winton was in Prague, Czechoslovakia, which was then in the process of being occupied by Germany. Winton established an organization to aid children from Jewish families at risk from the Nazis. In November 1938, following Kristallnacht in Nazi-ruled Germany, the House of Commons approved a measure to allow the entry into Britain of refugees younger than 17, provided they had a place to stay and a warranty of £50 was deposited for their eventual return to their own country.
Winton ultimately found homes in Britain for 669 children, many of whose parents would perish in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
He also wrote to US politicians such as Roosevelt, asking them to take more children. He said that two thousand more might have been saved if they had helped, but only Sweden took any besides those sent to Britain.
The last group of 250, scheduled to leave Prague on 1 September 1939, were unable to depart. With Hitler's invasion of Poland on the same day, the Second World War had begun. Of the children due to leave on that train, only two survived the war.
His rescue achievements went unnoticed for half a century until in 1988 his wife found a detailed scrapbook in their attic, containing lists of the children, including their parents' names and the names and addresses of the families that took them in. She gave the scrapbook to Elisabeth Maxwell, a Holocaust researcher and wife of media magnate Robert Maxwell. Winton himself could not remember the reason why this was done. Letters were sent to each of these known addresses and 80 of "Winton's children" were found in Britain.
On 28 October 2014, he was awarded the highest honour of the Czech Republic, the Order of the White Lion (1st class), by Czech President Miloš Zeman. He died in 2015 at the age of 106.
The train route from Prague to London -
On 1 September 2009, a special "Winton Train" composed of one or two steam locomotives (out of a set of six) and carriages used in the 1930s set off from the Prague Main railway station for London via the original Kindertransport route. On board were several surviving "Winton children" and their descendants, who were welcomed by Winton in London.
He was knighted in 2003 -
Here is a “60 Minutes” segment from 2014 —
A few tributes —
His statue at the Prague main railway station, unveiled on 1 September 2009.
Heroes never think of themselves as heroes —
What lessons can we learn for saving the refugees of today?
The story is a poignant reminder that one person can change the world — for many, who might have perished otherwise. Yet, here we are today, where many in our society feel no pangs about separating children from parents and putting them in cages.
Were you aware of the story of Sir Nicholas Winton? What are your memories of this incredible hero?