Nicholas Winton has died on Wednesday in Maidenhead, England at the age of 106.
Winton was born in may of 1909 in Hampstead, London to German Jewish parents. In the 1930s, he came involved with socialist friends who were part of a left-wing circle who were concerned about the dangers posed by the Nazis who were quickly gaining power.
In 1938, he went to Prague to help Martin Black with Jewish welfare work at the time, however, when he saw how much work was needed, he established an organisation to help children from Jewish families who may have been at risk from the Nazis. After the night of Kristallnacht, the Dutch government closed its borders to Jewish refugees, returning them from Germany if they were found. Fortunately, Winton’s agreement with the House of Commons in Britain made it easier for him to help find homes in Britain for 669 children.
Unfortunately for the children, many of their parents ended up dying in concentration camps, including Auschwitz. The last group to leave Prague in September of 1939, unfortunately did not make it as Hitler invaded Poland, this train did not make it at all and the children perished.
Despite his obvious good efforts, Winton has acknowledged the crucial roles of Beatrice Wellington, Doreen Warriner and Trevor Chadwick who were often placed in more dangerous positions than he and his mother, who simply helped to find homes for the children in Britain. Additionally, Winton kept quiet about his efforts for most of his life, until his wife found a scrapbook in 1988 that contained the lists of children he had saved, their parents and the addresses of the families that had taken them in. Just by sending letters to these addresses, 80 of the Winton children were found in Britain.
This incredible man saved so many lives and is loved by all. It was announced on July 1st, 2015 by the Rotary Club of Maidenhead that he had indeed died with his daughter and two grandchildren at his bedside. His death comes exactly 76 years after the 241 of the children he saved left Prague on a train, destined for safety.