Thursday, January 22, 2015

The British Schindler

The idea for today's crumb comes from a reader in Gaithersburg, MD, USA.

Sir Nicholas Winton, 105, of London, England, never expected so much fuss. In 2002 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. In 2010 he was named British Hero of the Holocaust, and in 2014 he was awarded Czechoslovakia's highest honor, the Order of the White Lion, by President Milos Zerman. All because of something he did 50 years ago and never mentioned to anyone.

Winton being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II

It began around Christmas, 1938. While working as a broker at the London Stock Exchange, Winton planned a ski vacation in Switzerland, but decided instead to visit Prague to assist the British Committee for Refugees with Jewish welfare work. During his three-week vacation, all by himself, he set up an organization to aid Jewish children in danger from the Nazis. When the British House of Commons allowed entry for children under 17 provided they had host parents and a warranty of fifty pounds, Winton found homes in Britain for 669 boys and girls. The British Home Office was sluggish about granting entry permits, claiming "nothing will happen in Europe," but Winton felt war was coming so he forged the permits. Nine months later, when war was declared and immigration no longer possible, Winton gathered all his papers into a notebook and stored it in his attic, telling no one about it -- not even his wife. Decades passed, and 669 children grew into adults, never understanding how they happened to be safe in England when their families perished in the Auschwitz concentration camp. The mystery continued until one day when Winton's wife Grete accidentally found the notebook. What happened next can be seen on this 10-minute video. Before it ends, you will hear the Dalai Lama of Tibet praise Winton, and you will have tears in your eyes.

No comments:

Post a Comment