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Forces War Records Blog


Blogger: GemSen At 104 years old, Sir Nicholas Winton is the oldest ever candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of the Jews he helped save during World War II and his story is a fascinating one. In 1939, Winton, helped save 669 mainly Jewish children from Czechoslovakia, which was under occupation by Nazi Germany at the time. Ultimately, risking his own life he organized train transports of the children to the safety of Great Britain, which was not yet affected by the war - he then found them new homes which allowed them to start a new life, away from danger. A humble man, Winston never talked about his deed and his family weren't even aware of his work in Czechoslovakia, until a clear-out of his loft in 1988 revealed a list of those saved. As reported by the Telegraph, Sir Nicholas Winton still dislikes being thought of as a hero or compared with Oskar Schindler or Raoul Wallenberg, however, that doesn’t stop others believing that his compassion deserves this highest humanitarian award of all, before it is too late. Pupils at the English speaking Open Gate School in Prague indeed believe that Winton should be awarded the Nobel Peace prize, and have subsequently launched a campaign that has attracted 195,000 signatures. “Our aim is to spread the story of Nicholas Winton,” says David Nitsche, one of the teachers at Open Gate. “He did something he did not have to do, to help people he did not know. Winton’s list has the same weight as Schindler’s list, but not many people know about it.” Organisational genius In 1939, Winton who was living in the UK in Hampstead and working as a stockbroker, received a call from a friend in Czechoslovakia who needed help saving Jews from the Nazis - he had to get involved. Winton then put his own life on hold to work in Prague for three weeks, helping to evacuate Jewish children to Britain, also known as ‘Kindertransport’, before returning to Britain to organise their resettlement. Winton's own family was Anglicised German-Jewish and his relatives had moved to Britain in the 19th century. The organisational genius behind the Kindertransport, Winton sorted out travel permits, foster homes, and the obtained passage on trains for the transport of children through the heart of the Third Reich and towards safety. Parents, however, were sadly left behind - only child refugees were to be permitted entry by the British Government. Sadly, the last Czech Kindertransport train with 250 children on board was halted on the platform when it was about to leave Prague. Hitler had invaded Poland and the borders of the Reich had been sealed- not one of the children on that train survived the war. Of course there were lots more tragedies, but between March 1939 and the following August, Winton and a group of British humanitarians had saved 669 children, mostly Jewish, from the extermination camps. And it is important to recognise that without Sir Nicholas Winton's involvement this would have never been achieved and the fatalities would have been even worse. Knighted in 2002, 60 years had passed before Winton was recognised for his significant organisational role behind the Czech part of  Kindertransport. In the article by the Telegraph, Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines, who fled Czechoslovakia on a Winton train said: “Nicholas is a very modest person and he insists on pointing out that he was only part of a team. But, he found the foster families in Britain and raised the money and made the whole thing possible.” A massive 259 nominations have been received for this year’s Peace Prize and the winner will be announced in Oslo, in October. Visit to read more about the campaign and to sign the petition. Source: Telegraph What are your thoughts on this story? Do you think Sir Nicholas Winton should win the Nobel Peace Prize? Comment below and let us know...
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