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Nicholas Winton - rescuing children

Nicholas Winton has been in the news today because the Czechs are lobbying to have this British hero awarded the Nobel Prize. Wikipedia has the details.

Nicholas Winton, then a 29-year-old clerk at the London Stock Exchange, visited Prague, Czechoslovakia, in late 1938 at the invitation of a friend at the British Embassy. When he arrived, the British team working in newly erected refugee camps asked him to lend a hand.

He spent only two weeks in Prague but was alarmed by the influx of refugees, endangered by the imminent Nazi invasion. He immediately recognized the advancing danger and courageously decided to make every effort to get the children outside the reach of Nazi power. . .

He set up office at a dining room table in his hotel in Wenceslas Square in Prague. Word got out of the 'Englishman of Wenceslas Square' and parents flocked to the hotel to try to persuade him to put their children on the list, desperate to get them out before the Nazis invaded. 'It seemed hopeless,' he said years later. . .But Winton managed to set up the organization for the Czech Kindertransport in Prague in early 1939 before he went back to London to handle all the necessary matters from Britain.

Working day and night he persuaded the Home Office to let the children in. For each child, he had to find a foster parent and a £50 guarantee, in those days a small fortune. He also had to raise money to help to pay for the transports when contributions by the children's parents couldn't cover the costs.

In nine months of campaigning as the war crept closer, Nicholas Winton managed to arrange for 669 children to get out on eight trains, Prague to London. . .

They were Jewish children. Their parents were murdered by the Nazis, and they would not have survived if they had stayed. Winton watched from a distance at Liverpool Station as the exhausted children arrived and were met by their new British families. He never spoke about what he did. Years later his Czech "children" discovered the man who had saved their lives.

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