Today would the the 112th birthday of a man who I have come to realize was the very soul of kindness and courage and humility. Englishman Nicholas Winton rescued at least 669 Czech children from the Nazis, and managed to keep it quiet for almost half a century. While rummaging in the attic one day in the 1980s, Winton’s wife found a scrapbook filled with the names and photos of the children he saved. Winton brushed it off, and told her to throw the scrapbook away. Instead, she contacted the media, which inspired the British TV program That’s Life to invite Winton to sit in the audience for a taping. Unbeknownst to the old man, the audience was filled with some of the people he’d rescued as children. In fact, many of the now-adult rescuees were likewise unaware their rescuer would be there with them. It was an understandably emotional show, but the very-private Winton was understandably annoyed by being blindsided like that on national television.
A few months later, a documentary film company known as Menemsha Films began a documentary based on Winton’s experiences and also started a petition to The Nobel Prize Committee.
“In 1939 a British man, Sir Nicholas Winton, saved 669 mainly Jewish children from Czechoslovakia, which was under occupation by Nazi Germany. While risking his own life he organized train transports of the children from the endangered area to Great Britain which was not yet affected by the war. There he found new homes for them and allowed them to start a new, safe life. He never talked about his deed and had it not been for his wife, who in 1988 by chance discovered documents about the whole operation, his heroic act would be forever hidden from the eyes of the public and the saved children.– Menemsha Films Nobel Peace Prize Petition
“Dozens of Winton’s children have been found and to this day his family has grown to almost 6,000 people, many of whom have gone on to achieve great things themselves. Winton’s story has also inspired thousands of children in countries around the world to follow in his footsteps through charitable deeds and life-saving efforts.”
Six years ago, at the age of 106, Winton died peacefully in his sleep. He died on the 76th anniversary of the departure of a train in 1939 carrying a staggering 241 children, the largest number rescued at one time. Though Winton was never awarded a Nobel, his epic acts of bravery and kindness live on. The documentary Nicky’s Family can be viewed for free if you have Amazon Prime or for a couple of dollars on YouTube.