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Nicholas Winton, an Englishman (today 102 years old) organized the rescue of 669 Czech and Slovak children just before the outbreak of World War II. Winton, now 102 years old, did not speak about these events with anyone for more than half a century. His exploits would have probably been forgotten if his wife, fifty years later, hadn't found a suitcase in the attic, full of documents and transport plans. Today the story of this rescue is known all over the world. He was knighted by the Queen Elisabeth II and the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 583 recognizing his remarkable deed. Winton's story is a very emotional one, and thousands of children in many countries have decided to follow in his footsteps and do something important. They think up various charity projects and even help in the saving of lives of undernourished and sick children in Cambodia and Africa. 120,000 children in the Czech Republic signed a petition to award Nicholas Winton the Nobel Prize for Peace. ... Written by
It is related in a narrative style, where we go back and forth between modern times and 1939 to tell the amazing story of what one man did to save a large group of children from the Nazis.
That man is Nicholas George Winton. During the 1930's, he was a successful stockbroker living in London. He certainly looked like one, all dressed up and wearing his big glasses! In the winter of 1938, he was planning a skiing trip in Switzerland. His plans were changed by a last-minute phone call from a friend in Prague, Czechoslovakia. There was a serious problem there, since Nazi Germany had recently annexed part of the country (Sudetenland), and it looked like they were going after more.
Nicholas met with terrified and hungry refugees that had been displaced by the Nazis. They were desperate to leave. As we all know from the tragic history, no nations were willing to take them in. Even the United States kept its doors firmly shut.
What could anyone do to help these refugees? Nicholas found a way to save at least some of the children, by getting them adopted. This took an enormous amount of effort filling out lengthy paperwork, and of course money - 50 pounds per child. He founded an organization that placed these Czech children into British homes. It was heart-breaking for the Czech families to say goodbye to their children at the train station, but as the political situation steadily got worse, they knew it was the right thing.
In 1939, over 660 children were officially adopted into new homes. The flow of children stopped abruptly on September 1st, 1939, which is when the war officially started.
During the war, Nicholas enlisted in the Royal Air Force and flew missions into Europe. Afterwards, he returned to his business, got married, and started a family.
It was nearly 50 years later that his wife discovered a dusty suitcase in the attic of their house, showing all the documents and photos of the children. Nicholas, as humble as anyone could be, had never mentioned it to her. His wife thought it would be great to reach out and see how the children (now well into middle age) had fared, and she reached out to them.
We learn that many of them grew up to become successful citizens. Some remained in Britain, and others emigrated. They had never known who had been responsible for getting them out of Czechoslovakia, and were quite eager to meet and thank Nicholas Winton for his great deed.
In one excerpt from a live television show, we see people introduce themselves to Nicholas, now well into his 80's. He is moved to tears, and humble as always, says very little to them.
Not surprisingly, we learn the fate of the Czech parents who had to give their children away: they were sent to the death camps. The children that Nicholas was unable to save also perished there.
All of this shows what one man was able to do. People were so inspired by him that some organizations are now trying to do the same. As Nicholas Winton celebrated his 100th birthday, he then met with some different organizations that want to help people all over the world.
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