I came across Sir Nicholas Winton’s story quite by accident last month. While watching the Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert on PBS, towards the end of the broadcast, the narrator introduced and interviewed Winton’s son who told a story that I had never heard before.
Often referred to as England’s Oskar Schindler, in 1939, Winton set about helping 669 children escape Nazi controlled Czechoslovakia, where, like their parents they would have likely faced certain death during the Holocaust had they remained in their homeland.
Most of the children, never saw their families again, and many, due to their young age, never knew the man who had been so instrumental in their survival.
Winton’s story might have gone entirely unnoticed had his wife Grete (who he married years after the war ended) while cleaning out their attic one day, not come across a scrap book with detailed notes and photographs that documented all the children who had been rescued. Confronting her husband, she asked who all these children were and why she had never known about any of this. Winton’s mild-mannered response was that it all had happened a long time ago, before they knew each other.
After learning all the details, his wife insisted that the story be told. The result…a movie, One Life starring Anthony Hopkins and a book by his daughter Barbara Winton entitled, If it’s Not Impossible. Additionally, Winton was also profiled by the BBC in a documentary entitled, That’s Life.
When you have five minutes to spare, I think you’ll find this brief clip from the documentary illustrating how one man made a huge difference in the lives of over 6,000 people very moving.