A scrapbook belonging to Sir Nicholas Winton collected dust in his attic until one day his wife stumbled upon it. Curious, she looked through it confused about what it was. Imagine his wife’s surprise when she learned it was a scrapbook of memories from her husband’s heroic past when, during the holocaust, he saved the lives of 669 children. Most of the children were Jewish Czech refugees. Most of the members of the children’s families ended up in concentration camps. The children had no idea who saved them, only that somehow they survived when others didn’t. “I suppose there’s quite a number of things which husbands don’t tell their wives,” Winton said modestly, as though his valiant life-saving efforts were a mere trip to the hardware store.
Winton arranged for the children to be transported to England. The children stayed in British foster homes, which he also arranged. He wished that he could have done more. The British would only allow him to transport as many children into the country as he could arrange homes for. Still, the British were more welcoming than the Americans. When asked who else he contacted, Winton explained writing a letter to the President of the United States. “The Americans. But the Americans wouldn’t take any. Which was a pity. We could have gotten a lot more out,” Winton recalled.
With everything out in the open, the children are now called “Nicky’s Children.” He spent three weeks in Prague to facilitate the first steps of his mission. Three weeks was the maximum amount of time he was allowed to take off of his job. Nicholas worked as a stockbroker. In the eight months that followed, he was a stockbroker by day and a child hero by night, as he worked into the evening to complete his mission until the last train was cancelled.
May 16 this year, he turned 105. At his birthday party, he explained that goodness isn’t passive. He said that it was active. He said that the world needs good people to do more than just not harm others, but actively seek out people in need of help. At his birthday party, an announcement was made that in October, Winton would be awarded the highest order of the Czech Republic: The Order of the White Lion. Winton’s motto, according to The Guardian is:
“If it’s not impossible, there must be a way to do it.”
A petition on Change.org has requested that the Nobel Peace Prize be awarded to Winton. The Czech government nominated him in 2008. Today, according to The Guardian, there are over 6,000 people alive that owe their lives to Nicholas Winton. He was knighted “Sir Nicholas Winton” in 2002.
Vera Egermayer, a holocaust survivor, said, “He did a kind act and never told anybody.”
Nicholas Winton, though, remains modest:
“I didn’t really keep it secret. I just didn’t talk about it.”
Sir Nicholas Winton Saved 669 Children During The Holocaust, Told His Wife 50 Years Later [Video]
This statue honors Nicholas Winton at the Prague Main railway station. It was installed in 2009.
This sculpture of Nicholas Winton stands at the Prague Main railway station.
The Winton Train's headboard is at London Liverpool Street Station honoring Nicholas' valiant efforts.
In London, a tribute to Nicholas Winton was created in the form of a train's head board.
Sir Nicholas Winton was knighted in 2002, and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008.
6000 people owe their lives to Nicholas Winton, a modest man who believes that if it's not impossible, he will find a way.
[Photos via GNU Free license on Wiki Commons]