I read an inspiring article this morning that gave me hope and reminded me that despite the fact that there are and has been many evil people in the world, there are just as many good people who strive to make a positive change in this world. Mytake is about a remarkable man called Nicolas Winton who risked everything to save the lives of others---- This is his story.
Nicolas Winton organised a rescue mission that saved approximately 669 children, mostly Jewish, from Czechoslovakia in Great Britain before the outbreak of the Second World War.
Name: Nicolas Winton
Born:19 May 1909, Hampstead, United Kingdom
Died: 1 July 2015, Slough, United Kingdom
How the idea of a rescue mission formed
In December 1938, Martin Blake, a friend of Wintons' and an associate of the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia, gave him a call and asked for his help. Winton cancelled his Ski vacation and went down to help out, as he knew as well as everyone else did that a war was approaching.
Blake arranged for Winton to visit refugee camps filled to capacity with Jews and political opponents of the Nazis. Winton was stunned by the amount of violence that the Jewish community in Germany and other areas occupied by Germany was facing. It was the Kristallnacht riots in November 1938 that shocked Winton to the point that knew he had to do something immediately.
Kristallnacht, "The Night of Broken Glass" when Nazis violently attacked the Jewish community. Shards of shattered glass lined German streets —broken glass from the windows of synagogues, homes, and Jewish-owned businesses destroyed during the violence.
Planning the rescue mission
Winton got a small group of people together and came up with a plan to rescue the children out of Czechoslovakia. He used his Hotel room in Prague as an office and began taking applications from parents. Thousand of parents came to Winton begging him to save their children from the Nazis.
He returned to Britain where he finalized the plan on that end. Winton and his team persuaded British custom officials to allow all the children in despite incomplete documentation. The officials would only allow this providing :
1. The travel expenses of the children were paid
2. 50 pounds per child was paid
3. British families willing to take care of the refugee children have been found.
Winton placed adds with photos of the children in British newspapers and personally paid for all expenses that weren't being covered by sponsors.
During the day Winton still worked at his regular job on the Stock Exchange and commited his evenings to his rescue mission.
The rescue mission
On March 14, 1939, just hours before Adolph Hitler and the German Nazis took Czechoslovakia, the first train carrying Winton's rescued children left the country. Over the course of the next five months Winton and his team organized seven other successful evacuation trains. In all, 669 children made it to safety.Some of the children Winton saved can be seen in the picture below.
Winton never told anyone about the work he had done and about the lives he had saved.Not even his longtime wife, Grete Gjelstrup, whom he'd married in 1948 and had three children with.
In 1988, his wife stumbled across an old scrapbook stuffed with letters, pictures and travel documents. With Wintons permissions, she handed the scrapbook over to a Holocaust historian.
His story was published over and over again and everyone wanted to meet with this extradanary man.
He met with and received many letters over the years from children whom he saved.
Over the course of many interviews, Winton was asked why he did what he did. His answers were always answered in a humble manner:
"One saw the problem there, that a lot of these children were in danger, and you had to get them to what was called a safe haven, and there was no organization to do that," he told The New York Times in 2001."Why did I do it? Why do people do different things. Some people revel in taking risks, and some go through life taking no risks at all."
Sir Nicholas Winton died in Slough, England, on July 1, 2015. He will always be remembered as a great hero.