Nicholas Winton

Nicholas Winton ( Hampstead , London , 19 of maypole of 1909 – Slough , Berkshire , 1 of July of 2015 ) 1 was a philanthropist British origin Jew who saved 669 Jewish children from death at the hands of Nazi Germany just before the start Of World War II in 1939 , inside the episode called as Kindertransport . He lived in Maidenhead , a small town in southern England until 1 of July of 2015 , when he died at 106 years in Wexham Hospital in Slough , England . 2

Biodata

He was son of Rudolph Wertheim, bank manager, and Barbara Wertheimer, 3 4 5 both German Jews who migrated to London two years ago. 6 The family name was Wertheim , but changed by Winton as part of its interest in joining. 7 They also converted to Christianity , and Winton was baptized . 8 His childhood and adolescence passed in a calm and calm manner, as it corresponded to a young Englishman of family settled of principles of century.

In 1931 , after completing his studies, he went to work as a stockbroker in his hometown until the outbreak of World War II. In December 1938 he planned to spend a few days skiing holiday in Switzerland when he received a phone call from his friend Martin Blake , in which he asked him to cancel all the plans he had for those days and headed to Prague . “I have a very interesting proposal for you. Do not bother bringing your skis,” Blake told him. Arriving in Prague, Blake asked her to lend a hand and work temporarily in the fields of refugees in the area, where thousands of people, many of whom were children of Jewish origin, malvivían in subhuman conditions. The vision of the drama struck him deeply. He decided to set up an improvised office in the hotel room where he was staying and began to work out a plan to get as many Jewish children out of the country as possible to take them to other countries and save their lives.

In a short time, the Jewish community in the Czech capital echoed the presence of Winton in the city and the motive that drove him to stay there. Hence hundreds of families came to visit him to try to persuade him to include his children in the list of children he was going to try to save. The flood of requests caused him to be forced to open a new office on the street Vorsilska to be able to serve as many people as possible. His friend Trevor Chadwick personally took care of that office. In a few days hundreds of families had come to ask for help to save their children.

Aware of the magnitude of the problem before him, he contacted the ambassadors of the nations which considered that could take care of children, but only the Swedish government agreed to deal with a group of children. Meanwhile, Britain promised to accept those who were under 18 but only if before was to families willing to welcome them and also should commit to pay in advance a deposit of 50 pounds per child to pay their future back home .

Nicholas Winton in October 2007 .
Commemorative act, July 2015, before his sculpture

Finally Winton had to return to London to return to his job. His return did not stop him from continuing to shore up his rescue plan; He created an organization called the British Committee for Refugees of Czechoslovakia, Children’s Section, which initially had only himself, his mother, his secretary and a few volunteers.

Once the Committee was set up, Winton had to face a major problem: to obtain the necessary funding to pay the costs of train travel from Czechoslovakia to the host country and to find people who agreed to take care of these children and Pay the £ 50 claimed by the government. Winton began to publish advertisements in the British newspapers, in the churches and in the synagogues requesting help. The response from the Londoners was enthusiastic. In a few weeks, hundreds of families accepted to welcome the children and provided the necessary money to start the transport from Czechoslovakia to the English capital.

The first one took place on 14 of March of 1939 by plane. In the following months another seven transports were organized, all by train. The last one took place the 2 of August . The railways were destined for the station Liverpool Street , London, where the host families were waiting.

The eighth train had to leave Prague on 1 of September of 1939 and he would travel another 250 children, but that same day Germany invaded Poland and closed borders. The transport literally disappeared. None of the children was ever seen again. There were 250 victims who joined the more than 15 000 children killed in Czechoslovakia during World War II.

Winton rescued a total of 669 Jewish children. His feat, which would have deserved multiple decorations and acts of homage, remained in oblivion for 50 years, since he preferred to keep secret what happened. It was not until 1988 when Greta, his wife, found an old leather briefcase hidden in the attic of the house and, rummaging through the papers it contained, ran into the photos of 669 children, a list with the names of all of them and some Letters from his parents. Such a discovery made Winton have no choice but to explain to his wife what had happened decades ago.

Surprised by the story her husband had just explained, Greta got in touch with Elisabeth Maxwell , a historian specializing in the Nazi Holocaust and wife of the communication magnate Robert Maxwell , owner of newspapers such as the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror .

Maxwell, whose roots were Czech , was so impressed by Winton’s deed that he decided to publish the story in his diaries. Shortly after, the BBC echo of the events that had occurred half a century ago and the events precipitated were made. In a few days he went from being an anonymous person to becoming a national hero, both in his country and in the former Czechoslovakia. Thus, Queen Elizabeth II appointed him in 1993 Member of the British Empire ; 9 years later, the 31 of December of 2002 , decorated him with the title of Knight for his service to humanity; also holds the title of Liberator of the City of Prague and the Order of TG Marsaryk , received at the hands of Vaclav Havel the 28 of October of 1998 ; the 9 of October of 2007 he was awarded the highest Czech military decoration, the Cross 1st Class at a ceremony in which the Czech ambassador expressed his public support for driven students nationwide initiative, which already had more than 32 000 signatures and in which he was asked to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize . In 2010, the British Government also awarded him the Holocaust Hero medal, and his figure is expected to be prominently recognized in a permanent monument that is preparing to commemorate the tragedy that occurred in the Second World War. His last award was in 2014, in which Winton received the Order of the White Lion in Prague.

Winton’s feat remained anonymous for 50 years until his wife Greta found a photo album, children’s lists and parent letters in the attic of the family home.

The story of Nicholas Winton has served as inspiration for the realization of two films: All my loved ones ( All My Loved Ones ) (1999), 10 , directed by Czech director Matej Mináč , and Nicholas Winton: The Power of Good ( The Power of Good: Nicholas Winton ), a documentary that won an Emmy in 2002 .

Bibliography

  • Chadwick, William (2010). The Rescue of the Prague Refugees 1938-39 . Troubador Publishing. ISBN  9781848765047 .
  • Fast, Vera K. (2011). Children’s Exodus: A History of the Kindertransport . IBTauris. ISBN  9781848855373 .
  • López de Casenave, Licia (2009). The other children in striped pajamas: the angels of the Holocaust . Robinbook Editions. ISBN  9788493698133 .

References

  1. Back to top↑ British Schindler dies at age 106, Nicholas Winton
  2. Back to top↑ “Statue for ‘British Schindler’ Sir Nicholas Winton”. BBC News. 18 September 2010
  3. Back to top↑ «Ægteviede» [Married]. Kirkebog [ Parish Register ]. 1946-1955 (in Danish) . Vor Frelsers Sogn (Vejle Kommune) ( de ). October 31, 1948. p. 67.
  4. Back to top↑ Stephen Bates. Sir Nicholas Winton obituary . The Guardian . Retrieved on July 1, 2015 .
  5. Back to top↑ «Nicholas Winton and the Rescued Generation: Save One Life, Save the World – Muriel Emanuel, Vera Gissing» . August 27, 2008 . Retrieved on July 1, 2015 .
  6. Back to top↑ České drahy, ed. (2009). Winton bio . Winton Train . Consulted on September 3, 2009 .
  7. Back to top↑ «Index entry» . FreeBMD . ONS . Retrieved on April 30, 2011 .
  8. Back to top↑ « ” Profile: Nicholas Winton “, BBC News, 28 August 2009» .
  9. Back to top↑ LondonGazette núm 56797 31 December 2002. Accessed September 9, 2009}
  10. Back to top↑ «Všichni moji blízcí (1999)» . Internet Movie Database . Retrieved on 1 September 2009 .