October 24, 2008

‘British Schindler’ meets the Queen

by David Masters

The Queen today met a man known as ‘Britain’s Schindler’ during her visit to Slovakia.

Ninety-nine year old Sir Nicholas Winton helped to rescue hundreds of Jews from the hands of the Nazis before World War Two broke out in 1939.

As a 29 year old stockbroker in 1938, Winton visited Czechoslovakia for a holiday.

Upon arrival, he found thousands of Jews staying in refugee camps having fled the Nazi occupation in Sudentenland.

Taking compassion on the refugees, Winton organised for over 600 young people to be transported from the camps to the UK, an action that almost certainly saved their lives.

Although he was brought up a Christian, Winton’s family had Jewish roots, a factor that influenced his decision to put pressure on the British government to accept Jewish refugees into the country.

One of the children rescued was Labour peer Lord Alf Dubs.

Lord Dubs met Winton again alongside the Queen, calling him an ‘incredible man’ to whom he owes his life.

Winton’s modesty meant that his actions to save Jews were kept secret, even from his wife, until the 1980s, when a child he rescued decided to search for him.

He was knighted in 2002, and this year he was nominated for a Noble Peace Prize by the Czech government.

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