Wow. The Winton Train arrives at Liverpool Street Station today – with passengers rescued from Prague 70 years ago – the train will be met by the person who masterminded the rescue – Nicholas Winton (pictured). Nicholas Winton is 100 years old.
Altogether he managed to rescue 669 children transporting them by train from Prague to Lon don. Most of them were Jewish children who otherwise would have become victims of the holocaust. They have become known as the Winton Children – and that family of 669 has now become a family of 5000. This was part of the Kindertransport rescue mission which began a few days after Kristallnacht (1938) when some British Jewish leaders petitioned the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, to accept unaccompanied Jewish children from Europe to protect them from Nazism. Six million Jews were killed in the holocaust. A quarter of them were children.
Dagmar Simova is one of the Winton Children on the train. Her response to the question of what it felt like to be once again being on a train from Prague is on the Winton Train Project’s blog: “My mother, father and grandfather came to the station with me. We all wept. This time my husband and daughter came to see me off. When we waved, suddenly it struck me. I was looking at them, but again I saw those three.”
Nicholas Winton never mentioned anything about this. It only became known 50 years later when his wife, Elizabeth, came across some papers when she was cleaning out their attic.
People like Nicholas Winton are honoured in a memorial park in Prague called the Orchard of Saviours. It celebrates all who helped Jewish children at great cost to themselves. Four types of apple trees have been planted and the refurbished fountain has been named after Sir Nicholas Winton.
The Winton Train Project hopes to despatch another Winton Train with young people and their artworks inspired by goodness bound for other European cities, and that it become a tradition to commemorate the resilient determination of people to believe in goodness and actively take part in a common future.