Sir Nicholas Winton

Prime Minister David Cameron said that “the world has lost a great man.”

On July 1, 2015, the “British Hero of the Holocaust” Nicholas Winton has died in his sleep at the age of 106. Nicholas Winton is a British humanitarian who is highly regarded for saving the lives of more than 600 Jewish children of then Czechoslovakia from certain death in concentration camps during the Nazi rule. Because of his heroic act, he was considered to be the British counterpart of the Nazi icon Oskar Schindler.

The rescue operation planned and staged by Sir Nicholas Winton was named as the CzechKindertransport.

He originally planned to spend Christmas holiday skiing in Switzerland in 1938 but instead, he joined his friend in Prague associated with the British Committee for Refugees in its Jewish welfare efforts. He noticed the need to rescue children who are at risk from the Nazis especially after the Kristallnacht or raids and massacres against Jewish communities and properties in all Nazi territories.

In November of 1938, Nicholas Winton successfully gained the support of the British government to accept Jewish refugees under the age of 17. He has also obtained permission for his rescue train to pass Netherlands to be able to reach the Hoek van Hollan terminal where the children will embark for Britain. The total number of children rescued out of Czechoslovakia was 669. His last effort to save another 250 on September 1, 1939 eventually failed because the Second World War has already commenced and Germany has already invaded Poland.

The efforts of Nicholas Winton didn’t end there. He actively campaigned for the adoption and search of new homes for the 667 rescued Jewish children who have successfully made it to Britain.

His heroic efforts were not known to the public including his family until 1988 when his wife discovered his scrapbook and tried to locate the children on Winton’s list. BBC aired the first reuniting of Winton and the dozens of the individuals he has rescued back then in the show “That’s Life”.

It was about 50 years before Britain and the world has known the heroic acts of Nicholas Winton during the Holocaust. In 1998, he received the highest recognition Order of the White Lion by the Czech government. In 2002, Queen Elizabeth II has knighted him and the next year, he received the Pride of Britain Award for Lifetime Achievement. And in 2008, the Czech government has nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize.

After his death, several leaders have appreciated his contributions. In a statement, Prime Minister David Cameron said that “The world has lost a great man. We must never forget Sir Nicholas Winton’s humanity in saving so many children from the Holocaust.”

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