Archive for November 26th, 2013

Nicholas Winton

Sometimes we hear a story of one person, doing one thing, which gets multiplied much like the Biblical story of the loaves and the fishes.

This is the case in the story of Nicholas Winton.

Nicholas Winton was born and grew up in London, England to German parents, of Jewish background, who had converted to Christianity.

In 1939 there was war in the air.

At the end of 1939, Nicholas traveled to Prague to assist a friend in the refugee camps. This was just weeks following Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass), when Nazi soldiers and German citizens attacked the homes, businesses and synagogues of German and Austrian Jews throughout the two countries. Many people were injured, killed or taken to concentration camps. The Final Solution was underway, and Winston’s eyes were opened to where Hitler’s plans were certainly going.

With the help of a handful of friends and family, Winston quickly set up “The British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia, Children’s Section.” This group raised money, found foster homes, and did all of the footwork to move children, by train, to the safety of families in England and Sweden.

As I was reading about Winston, and this horrific time in history, I found myself wondering how parents, how a mother, could hand her child over to the hands of a stranger. Then I realized what Winston and the parents of these children must have also realized … there was no hope for the future if you were in Czechoslovakia, and Jewish, at that time. Still, imagine the tears as final farewells were said …

And so, working from a hotel room, parents came, the arrangements were made for their children to be taken away to another land, to unknown foster parents. Six hundred and sixty-nine children were given safe passage to their new homes, their new families.

The largest number of children sent at one time was on September 1, 1939 … the day Hitler invaded Poland, all German-controlled borders were closed. The train, carrying two hundred and fifty children, left the station in Prague … the two hundred and fifty foster families awaiting their arrival in Liverpool waited … never was any child from that train heard from again.

Books have been written and movies have been made (one, Nicky’s Family, was just released this year) about the story of Mr. Winton. In June of this year, at the age of one hundred and four, Sir Winston said in an interview, “if the people lived by the fundamental ethics of goodness, kindness, decency, honor … the world would be a different place.”

In that same interview with Mr. Winton, he stated that his family now numbers about seven thousand …

loaves and fishes … a great miracle happened here!

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