Sir Nicholas Winton dead at 106

July 2, 2015 by J-Wire Staff
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Nicholas Winton, who rescued 669 children during the Holocaust and was dubbed the “British Schindler” (after German Holocaust rescuer Oskar Schindler), has died at the age of 106.

Sydney's Norah Huppert looks up at Sir Nicholas Winton...the man who rescued her from Prague.   Photo: Henrty Benjamin

Sydney’s Norah Huppert looks up at Sir Nicholas Winton…the man who rescued her from Prague. Photo: Henry Benjamin

According to his son-in-law Stephen Watson, Winton died peacefully in his sleep at Wexham Hospital in the U.K, the BBC reported. His death coincided with the anniversary of the departure of a train carrying his largest group of rescued children, 241, from Czechoslovakia. During the Holocaust, such rescue-by-train missions were part of a system known as the “Kindertransport.”

Sir Nicholas Winton...at the age of 103

Sir Nicholas Winton…at the age of 103

For nine months beginning in December 1938, Winton worked in Prague, Czechoslovakia, to save hundreds of children, mainly from Jewish families, from near-certain death. Winton used a new British law that allowed children under 17 to obtain refugee status if they had a deposit placed for their eventual return. His story was hidden from the public for nearly 50 years. Today, more than 370 of the children he saved have never been traced.

But by the time he died, Winton had obtained international fame for his efforts during World War II, including knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 2003.

“I called myself Honorary Secretary of the Children’s Section of the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia,” Winton told the Washington Post in 1989.

“The other people, they just called me a bloody nuisance,” he added, referring to government bureaucracies and other entities.

Report: JNS.org

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “The Jewish people and the State of Israel owe an eternal debt to Nicholas Winton who singlehandedly saved hundreds of Jewish children from the Nazis.

In a world plagued by evil and indifference, Winton dedicated himself to saving the innocent and the defenseless. His exceptional moral leadership serves as an example to all humanity.

Nicholas Winton will forever be remembered by us with the deepest admiration and gratitude. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

The Sydney Jewish Museum has joined communities around the world in mourning the passing of Sir Nicholas Winton.

The Museum itself has a small community of ‘Kinder Kids’ who tell their stories to visitors, including John Gruschka, a Holocaust Survivor from Czechoslovakia who was sent to England for safety on his fifteenth birthday.

Israel’s president Reuven Rivlin added: “Just as the Holocaust will forever remain etched in the Jewish consciousness, so too,  the names of those who risked their own lives to save Jews, and especially Jewish children will remain in our memory as heroes of those darkest of times. Sir Nicholas Winton was a man who valued human life above all else, and there are those who are alive today as a testament to his dedication and sacrifice. May his memory be blessed.”

Norman Seligman, Chief Executive Officer of the Sydney Jewish Museum commented: “The death of Sir Nicholas Winton reminds us how important it is to reflect on the stories of compassion and humanity that come out of the Holocaust. Mr Winton was a man who saw people suffering and did not turn his back. It is a message we try to share with all Museum visitors.”

Sir Nicholas Winton and Vera Egermayer

Sir Nicholas Winton and Vera Egermayer

While often compared to the likes of Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg, Winton was a reluctant hero, saying nothing about his rescue efforts for decades. It was only when Winton’s wife discovered a dusty record of names, pictures and documents in the attic of their family home that his efforts to find foster carers, raise money and co-ordinate the mass rescue effort in Czechoslovakia truly came to light.

Janet Murker, Vice President of the Kindertransport Association in Australia said “The Association mourns the loss of a great humanitarian and innovator of the Kindertransport in Czechoslovakia. Mr Winton’s actions gave life to hundreds of Kinderkids, many of whom called themselves ‘Winton’s Children’.”

The Sydney Jewish Museum is dedicated to teaching the history of the Holocaust, reflecting on its contemporary relevance and the remembrance of its victims. Visitors are also afforded an opportunity to speak directly with Holocaust survivors and hear their personal histories through the Museums monthly ‘Remember Me’ talks. (held on the 3rd Sunday of each month).

Mr Seligman noted that “Seventy years since the liberation of the Concentration Camps in Europe, we urge people to come to the Museum, to hear the vital testimonies of our survivors while they are still here to give them in person.”

Co-President of Melbourne’s Jewish Holocaust Centre Pauline Rockman added: “Sir Nicholas George Winton, MBE, who passed away yesterday in the UK at  the age of 106,  will be mourned by countless Holocaust survivors worldwide, among them hundreds of those who survived through his incredible and selfless efforts to arrange their passages from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia on the eve of the Second World War. The 669 children whose lives he saved – a story which only saw the light of day by chance in 1988 – were undoubtedly destined to be incarcerated and exterminated by the Nazis. Dubbed a reluctant hero, Sir Nicholas’s humanitarianism serves as a true testament to man’s goodness, juxtaposed against what the political theorist, Hannah Arendt, referred to as ‘the banality of evil’ – the scourge of Nazism.”

Dr Dvir Abramovich, Chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, issued the following statement: “We will never forget the truly incredible and abiding impact Sir Winston had

SIr Nicholas Winton

SIr Nicholas Winton

on humanity. The world has lost one its most remarkable and humble heroes. Sir Winston’s extraordinary and exceptional legacy was a shining light that will live forever in our hearts and will continue to inspire future generations.  In many ways, he embodied the Jewish dictum that “whomever saves one life saves the world entire”.  A  rare and unique humanitarian, Sir Winton exemplified the ideals of compassion and bravery, and is one of a handful of individuals who stood up in the name of conscience and  moral courage. His incalculable bravery  and service was a living example to us all, and an invaluable lesson about the value of stepping forward in moments of moral collapse, and against overwhelming odds, and doing whatever is necessary to prevent the murder of innocent people.  His fearless actions showed what a difference one selfless and devoted individual can make in  affecting and improving the lives of so many. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family,  his friends, and to the thousands of descendants of the children he rescued. He will be sorely missed”

Survivor Vera Egermayer, a former child survivor of the Terezin Concentration camp told J-Wire in 2013: ”I  have just had confirmation from his daughter that Sir Nicholas Winton will be honoured to be  a patron of the New Zealand Children’s Holocaust Memorial. Having the support of Nicky  Winton who has made such an outstanding contribution to humanity strengthens our resolve to get the Memorial built.”

Dr George Foster, immediate past president of The Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants, added: Just as the Holocaust will forever remain etched in the Jewish consciousness, so too the names of those who risked their own lives to save Jews, and especially Jewish children will remain in our memory as heroes of those darkest of times. Sir Nicholas Winton was a man who valued human life above all else, and there are those who are alive today as a testament to his dedication and sacrifice. May his memory be blessed.”

 

 

 

Comments

3 Responses to “Sir Nicholas Winton dead at 106”
  1. Cody Flecker says:

    Sir Nicholas Winton’s real name was Wertheim. His parents were German Jews who had converted to Christianity, and then changed their name from Wertheim to Winton.

  2. George Foster says:

    The Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants adds its voice to those who mourn the passing of Sir Nicholas Winton, an exceptional human being who saw his efforts in saving Jewish children as an “normal” reaction to persecution. He was genuinely surprised by the reaction of people who marvelled at his unselfish and brave action particularly in defiance of British bureaucracy. He shall always be remembered with great affection.
    George Foster
    Immediate Past President
    AAJHSD

  3. Serge Liberman says:

    A lamed-vavnik of the mid-20th century. May his memory be remembered and honoured for all time.

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