The Heroic Man Who Saved Hundreds Of Children From The Holocaust
The story of Sir Nicholas Winton is one that you would imagine could only happen on the silver screen. Sir Nicholas Winton was a British man who went to heroic efforts, potentially putting himself at risk, during World War II. Sir Winton was responsible for ensuring the safety of six hundred and sixty-nine Jewish children by aiding their escape from countries occupied by Nazis. Ultimately, the Jewish children were brought to England where he worked to make sure families in his native country would help the kids by taking them into their homes. It is the story of individuals like this throughout history that reminds us we must always stand up for others who are facing discrimination in this world in order to make sure an event like the Holocaust never takes place again.
Recently, this unbelievable story has again been making the rounds on the Internet. Particularly after a rerun of the BBC show called “That’s Life” from 1988 aired, which featured Sir Winton. People from around the world were moved at the details of the story, with some proclaiming it to be the best story they’ve ever seen on the internet.
Sir Winton kept his entire plan completely secret — even his wife had no idea about his planning until fifty years later. While visiting a friend in Prague, Sir Winton began to set up an organization seeking to help the children from Jewish families fleeing a certain death at the hand of the Nazi regime. He arranged for eight trains to take the children through Prague. He was able to successfully ensure almost seven hundred children escaped with their lives. Sadly, the very last train carrying two hundred and fifty children was unable to disembark because WWII had broken out. Only two children from this train ended up surviving the war.
After the war, years passed and many people remained in the dark about Sir Winton’s extraordinary feat. Some fifty years later, his wife Greta was rummaging in their attic and discovered a scrapbook that Winton kept which documented the names of all the children that had boarded the trains. She worked with BBC and they produced a TV episode of their program “That’s Life” that served as an honor for Sir Winton’s noble work.
Winton’s wife sent out individual letters to all of the children found on the list. She received over two hundred responses and several dozen of those agreed to appear on the TV program. Greta secretly planned, with the BBC, a surprise for Winton. He is shown sitting in the audience while the presenter discusses his role in helping all of these children throughout the second world war. She mentions one woman in particular and then reveals that she is sitting right next to Sir Winton. He is clearly moved to see a young child he once helped as a grown lady who has been able to live her life. The presenter then asks who else was alive because of Sir Winton’s actions. All of the people in the audience around him stand up. Sir Winton is clearly astounded at the reveal and stands up to take in the faces of crowd – the children he once helped save. They offer him a round of applause, and everyone is moved by the special moment.
In 2003, Sir Winton was knighted by the Queen of England for his work in helping the children he transported to safety. He also received multiple awards from the Czechoslovakian government and was even nominated for a Novel Peace Prize. He also had a minor planet named after him by Czech astronomers. Sir Winton died peacefully in his sleep at the old age of one hundred and six, in 2015. Leaders around the world paid tribute. Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Daniel Taub, said, “He was a hero of our time, having saved 669 Jewish children from the Nazi regime. His legacy, as a point of light in an era of darkness, will forever be remembered.”
Before he died, Sir Winton gave an interview to a BBC radio program in which he observed, “I don’t think we’ve learned anything… the world today is in a more dangerous situation than it has ever been.” It is overwhelmingly important to heed Sir Winton’s words, particularly in times where politicians have sought to demonize entire groups of people based on their religious affiliation and ethnicity. Those who work to help those most in need – the children affected by wars and dangerous situations with no safe place to rest their heads – they will be remembered as heroes, just like Sir Nicholas Winton.