RIP Nicholas Winton, Holocaust hero

Written by Peter Smith on .

WINTON 1A remarkable era came to an end Wednesday with the death of Nicholas Winton, who rescued hundreds of Czechoslovak Jewish children from death at Nazi hands in the late 1930s and lived long enough to be an enduring witness to what one person can do to resist evil.

Mr. Winton died at 106 in his native Britain. Many had signed petitions asking that this last living "Schindler" be honored with the Nobel Peace Prize, but alas, as the award only goes to living persons, that chance has now passed.

"I did it merely because it had to be done and nobody else was doing it," Mr. Winton told me in 1998 in Prague, when I was working as a freelancer and covered a reunion with many of the graying "children" he had rescued.

He is credited with rescuing 669 children, most of them Jewish, by arranging transports to Britain and Sweden. 

At the time a young stockbroker, Mr. Winton went to Prague at the request of friends who were working with refugees as Czechoslovakia was coming under Nazi occupation. He bent rules, falsified papers and did whatever else he could to enable the escape of children whose parents couldn't or wouldn't leave themselves. He always said he was most haunted by the failure to get the last and largest transport out of the country; the train trip was canceled due to the September 1939 outbreak of World War II.

But to see some of those he rescued, click here for one of the most powerful pieces of television you will ever see (hint: after the 40 second mark).



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