It was 1938, Nicholas Winton and his friend Martin Blake were supposed to go to Switzerland for a skiing holiday, but they went to Prague instead. It was this seemingly light decision that proved to be critical for hundreds of people. At first, Blake wanted to help some of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who escaped into the city from the German armies, and in the end, it was Nicholas Winton who was responsible for saving 669 lives from certain death.
Nicholas Winton, known as ‘British Schindler’, single-handedly managed to persuade the home office and arrange 8 trains to carry 669 children from Czechoslovakia through Germany to Britain right at the outbreak of the World War II in 1939. Upon their safe arrival in the UK, the orphaned children were all sent to foster parents, while their own died in the horrors of the Holocaust.
“Can you imagine putting your children on a train, saying goodbye to them, knowing you might never see them again? We had the opportunity to thank Nicky [Winton] personally, but never to thank our parents,” said one of the survivors.
Almost 50 years later, the silent hero’s wife found a scrapbook in the attic where Mr. Winton saved all the names, pictures and documents of the children he rescued. Nicholas Winton never liked talking too much about his heroism, and he always tried to keep the story to himself, but a UK television programme called That’s Life! had other things in plan. Mr. Winton was invited to the show as a member of the audience, completely unaware of what was going to happen. The fact was the rest of the people in the audience around him were, indeed, the grown up children he had rescued decades ago. The point of revelation became one of the most emotional moments in TV history, have a look below:
“Don’t be content in your life just to do no wrong. Be prepared every day to try and do some good.”
Sir Nicholas Winton
The humble hero died in 2015 at the age of 106. Nicholas Winton was knighted by the Queen in 2003, he received a statue at Prague railway station, and he was awarded with Czechoslovakia’s highest honor – the Order of the White Lion. Two Czech astronomers even named a small planet after him! But it was in May, 2017, that a belated thanks came from the surviving children he had rescued. The unique monument is a replica of a 1939 train door, showing hands of children on one side and those of parents on the other. It is simply named “The Farewell Memorial”, and according to the eternally grateful survivors, it is a belated expression of thanks to their hero and savior.