To Save Jewish Children

Stand for Israel  |  May 19, 2020

British humanitarian that rescued children from Nazi Germany, Nicholas Winton
Nicholas Winton

You might not know Nicholas Winton, a hero of the Holocaust who would have been 111 today.

Until the above video aired on British television, not many people knew his story. And that’s too bad, because as you’ll learn, Winton saved the lives of many, many people.

A Christmas Miracle

At Christmas of 1938, Nicholas Winton prepared for a ski trip to Switzerland. Instead, a friend asked for help in Prague, saving Jewish Czech children already at risk from the looming Nazi threat in Europe. Nicholas happily canceled his vacation and headed to Czechoslovakia to do good. Right there at his hotel room table, he set up an organization to help Jewish children.

Nicholas took Jewish children being threatened in Czechoslovakia (most of their parents would end up murdered in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp) and helped them reach safety in his native England. There were some obstacles to this, however.

First, even many allied nations (the U.S. and Great Britain among them) hesitated to let many Jewish refugees in, despite the fact that their very lives were being threatened. But the British House of Commons did allow refugees younger than 17 past British borders, so Nicholas realized he could save children.

Secondly, the route to England passed through the Netherlands, and Dutch borders closed to Jews after Kristallnacht. But even so, Winton found ways around these restrictions.

The British Schindler

In the end, Nicholas Winton saved 669 Jewish children from certain death at the hands of the Nazis, leading to the belated recognition above. Nicholas lived to the age of 106. And when he finally passed on to his greater reward, Yad Vashem (Israel’s official Holocaust memorial) said that this hero of the Holocaust — dubbed the British Schindler — “acted relentlessly, courageously and with integrity to save children and for that is worthy of our admiration.”

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