In this week of ceremonies marking the start of the Second World War, London has celebrated the deeds of a man dubbed “Britain’s Oscar Schindler.”
As the storm clouds gathered 70 years ago, a British diplomat rescued 669 mainly-Jewish children, spiriting them out of Czechoslovakia by train to freedom in London. Nicholas Winton was a stock broker. During a visit to Prague he decided to organise a trans-European escape by rail. On this anniversary of the war, the journey from Prague to London was receated, with many of the survivors. Now elderly, they travelled to London to meet the man who saved them. He celebrated his 100th birthday in May.
“It’s wonderful to see you all again after 70 years,” said Winton.” Don’t leave it so long until we meet again.”
Winton managed to send seven trains to Britain, and helped arrange foster families to care for the children. He kept out of the limelight, both before and after the war, and many of the refugees only learned decades later who had saved them. An eighth train was due to leave on September 1st, the day war broke out, but the borders were closed and none of the people on board were ever seen again.