Commemorating the Birthday of Sir Nicholas Winton, Lifesaver of 669 Children
On This Day in Jewish History: May 19th, 1909.
The Lifesaving Hero: Sir Nicholas Winton
Picture a world where you’re a child, whisked away on a train, never to see your parents again. Imagine narrowly escaping death, and for 50 years, living unaware of the identity of the person who saved your life.
Today, we celebrate the birthday of Sir Nicholas Winton, the lifesaver of 669 children, primarily of Jewish descent, who he rescued from the terrifying grasp of the Holocaust.
Winton, a British stockbroker with German-Jewish roots, became deeply concerned by the reports emanating from Czechoslovakia in 1939. Immigration was closed to the region, and the children striving for survival were ignored.
Despite the challenges, Winton persevered, maintaining his day job as a stockbroker, while negotiating with the British government at night. Eventually, Britain agreed to accept the children, but only on the condition that Winton found homes for each child. He succeeded by sending their photographs around, hoping to find families that would take them in.
The rescue operation began with the departure of the first twenty children from Prague on March 14, 1939. Seven trains traveled from Prague through Germany that spring and summer, ferrying over 600 children to Holland, followed by a ferry ride to the English coast, and then a train to London.
A Tragic Halt to the Rescue Mission
Plans were in place for an eighth train to make the same journey and bring another 250 children to safety. However, as the train was scheduled to depart on September 1st – the day war erupted – that train never left the station. Tragically, those children did not survive. In total, 1 million Jewish children were lost in the Holocaust.
It wasn’t until the BBC investigated and publicized Winton’s heroic efforts, reuniting him with some of the children he saved, that the world discovered his extraordinary heroism, fifty years later.
In 2016, at the age of 106, Sir Winton passed away.
Experience the incredible moment where the children Sir Winton saved met him as adults by following the link in the bio.