International Holocaust Remembrance Day – January 27th

Sir Nicholas Winton

Yesterday, I had no recollection of knowing anything about Nicholas Winton.

I do start my day quite early and getting the news of the world is always paramount. There is only one “real” source of world news and that is the BBC. They are always current, clear, and exact with little of the embellishment that we get from Canadian and American news reports. I follow this up with the Business section of the Globe and Mail which is nothing more than the habit that has continued even after 26 years of retirement.

But this morning I stuck with the BBC longer than normal and learned something about a man that I cannot remember ever hearing anything about before. His name was SIR NICHOLAS WINTON.

He lived to be 106 years old and 7 months before his death, in 2015 he was interviewed by Stephen Sackur on Hardtalk on the BBC. In 1938, at age 29, he was a very successful stockbroker in England. His family were Jewish and had left Germany in 1907, two years before he was born. He had been raised and educated in England. His parents were German Jews that had moved to England in 1907, two years before Nicholas was born. At a young age, he became a very successful stockbroker.

In late 1938, while he was planning a ski trip to Switzerland his family was contacted by Jewish friends in Prague Czechoslovakia fearing for the lives of their children who were destined to be moved to a concentration camp. He went there and with the threat of WII looming Nicholas created a plan to save Jewish children in Prague who were destined for concentration camps. He developed a plan to send them to England where they would be foster children in English families.

Train travel between Prague and London existed right up to September 1, 1939, and he succeeded in getting 669 children to England before that

date when England declared war on Germany following the invasion of Poland and the train from Prague to Western Europe stopped.

Nicholas died on July 1, 2015, the same day, 76 years after the largest group of children, 241, left Prague by train for England in 1939.

The interview showed the remarkable intellect that this 105-year-old man had. He spent his life as a humanitarian looking out for the less fortunate.

When Stephen asked him “Why did you do it?” his one-word answer was “Ethics”. When asked to explain what he meant, he said “Goodness, Kindness, and Love”.

It was all about “Ethics” for Nicholas.

SIR NICHOLAS WINTON received his Knighthood in 2003.

Written by G. William Streeter January 25, 2024