Britain’s Schindler: Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved 669 Jewish children during Holocaust set to receive highest Czech honour at age 105

Published: June 17, 2014


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Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved more than 650 mostly Jewish children from the Holocaust by organizing the 'Kindertransports' to the UK, will receive the Order of the White Lion.

CEN AGENCY

‘Britain’s Schindler’ – a man who saved Jews from certain death in Nazi extermination camps in occupied Prague before the start of WW2 – is to receive the Czech Republic’s highest honour.

Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved more than 650 mostly Jewish children from the Holocaust by organizing the ‘Kindertransports’ to the UK, will receive the Order of the White Lion.

The decision was confirmed by the government this week, several weeks after President Milos Zeman said he wanted to award Sir Nicholas the distinction at an official ceremony on October 28th, marking the day in 1918 when the country, then known as Czechoslavakia, was founded.

Recently Sir Nicholas celebrated his 105th birthday at the Czech embassy in London where most of the guests were the offspring of the children rescued by him. Today they call themselves “Nicky’s children”.

When the heirs of the rescued Jewish children are taken into account, there are estimated to be around 6,000 people alive in the world who owe him their lives. It was late in December 1938 when the stockbroker from Hampstead cancelled a holiday and instead went to Prague to see what was happening to refugees.

He immediately set about organizing eight evacuations of the threatened children on the Czech Kindertransport train. He advertised in newspapers for foster homes, organized residency permits from the immigration office in the UK, and persuaded the Germans to let the children go.

“Nicky is a national hero in the Czech Republic,” says Vera Egermayer, a Holocaust survivor who was interned at the Theresienstadt transit camp. “In England, you don’t know about him but everywhere else we do. He did a kind act and never told anybody.”

Sir Nicholas is still living at his home in Berkshire, with only a day carer. At his party he said: “I am always surprised every time I come here to see all kinds of people who have come really very great distances to say hello. As far as I am concerned, it is only Anno Domini that I am fighting – I am not ill, I am just old and doddery.”

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