Nicholas Winton and the Rescue of Children from Czechoslovakia, 1938–1939

On 19th May this year, Sir Nicholas Winton turned 105.

Re-blogged from Nicholas Winton and the Rescue of Children from Czechoslovakia, 1938–1939

Nicholas Winton was born Nicholas Wertheimer on May 19, 1909, in West Hampstead, England, and baptized as a member of the Anglican Church by decision of his parents who were of German Jewish ancestry. He was a stockbroker by profession. Nicholas Winton organized a rescue operation that brought approximately 669 children, mostly Jewish, from Czechoslovakia to safety in Great Britain before the outbreak of World War II. In December 1938, Martin Blake, a friend and an instructional master at the Westminster School in London, asked Winton to forego his planned ski vacation and visit him in Czechoslovakia, where he had traveled in his capacity as an associate of the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia. This committee had been established in October 1938 to provide assistance for refugees created by the German annexation of the Sudeten regions under the terms of the Munich Pact. Convinced that a European war was imminent, Winton decided to go.

In Prague, Blake introduced Winton to his colleague, Doreen Wariner, and arranged for him to visit refugee camps filled to capacity with Jews and political opponents from the Sudetenland. After Munich, Winton had been certain that the Germans would occupy the rest of Bohemia and Moravia before long. He had been alarmed further by the violence against the Jewish community in Germany and Austria during the Kristallnacht riots in November 1938. When he heard of subsequent efforts of Jewish agencies in Britain to rescue German and Austrian Jewish children on the so-called Kindertransport, an effort that eventually brought about 10,000 unaccompanied children to safety in Great Britain, Winton summoned a small group of people to organize a similar rescue operation for children imperiled by the impending German dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in March 1939…

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