Sir Nicholas Winton saved nearly 700 Jewish children from death camps and then met them 50 years later.
Sir Nicholas Winton was an activist during World War II that helped organize the transport of 669 Jewish children on trains from Prague during its occupation by Nazis. He was a stockbroker who doubled as a life-saver starting in 1938, when the war was just getting started and the majority of the world did not yet know of the horrors occurring at the hands of Hitler and the Nazis.
In total, Winton organized a total of 8 trains to leave Prague and for the hundreds of children to eventually arrive in Britain. He battled bureaucracy and red tape the entire way and risked his own life to ensure the safety of others. Once the children arrived, he set up foster families to take the child refugees in by placing advertisements in newspapers.
While many of the biological parents of these children died in Nazi concentration camps, a fate these children were guaranteed to have met with Winton, they went on to grow up safely and start families of their own to share their story with. One of the children he saved, Alf Dubs, who was six years old when he was rescued, went on to become a Labour Member of Parliament. He said this of Winton:
“The real fact is that he was a man who saved my life and a lot of us who came on the Kindertransport owe him an enormous debt,” he said. “His legacy is that when there is a need for you to do something for your fellow human beings, you have got to do it.”
Winton kept the secret of what he had done for half a century, at which point many of the children, now grown-ups with their own children, had begun to publicly question who it was that arranged their rescue. Winton was invited onto a show called That’s Life in 1988, where he was unknowingly surrounded by people that owed their lives to Winton’s brave efforts. When it was announced that the people he was sitting next to were directly saved by him, he began weeping and used his handkerchief to dry his tears as he shook their hands.
The Queen knighted Winton in 2003 and several world leaders described him as exceptionally courageous and selfless. Sadly, Winton died at the age of 106 in 2015 and many regarded it as a terrible loss. Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted, “The world has lost a great man. We must never forget Sir Nicholas Winton’s humanity in saving so many children from the Holocaust.”
His son, Nick, said of his father’s legacy,
“It is about encouraging people to make a difference and not waiting for something to be done or waiting for someone else to do it.”
We can all take something from Winton’s courage and his story, as feeling passionate about something is easy but taking action to make the world a better place can often be extremely difficult. Sir Nicholas Winton will always be remembered and his legacy will live on in the generations to come.
Watch the video below to see the emotional reunion:
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