Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Not So Quiet Legacy of Sir Nicholas Winton

 

On the heels of a recent post by @Jon about legacy, I read a story about a man who, at the tender age of 29, began to create a legacy that would not be revealed for 50 more years. Jon asked the question, “How do you want to be remembered? Sometimes fate answers that question for us. Even in the midst of the darkest of times, a light was shining brightly, illuminated from a quiet soul with no thoughts of legacy, who rose to the challenge of his day.

In 1938-1939, Nicholas Winton single-handedly began to rescue Jewish children from the Holocaust. He brought 669 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia to Great Britain, in an operation later known as the Czech Kindertransport, helping them to find new families who gave them a home. Most of the children’s parents would perish in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. He never mentioned the children he rescued to anyone.

One day, some 50 years later, his wife, Grete, found a notebook in the attic containing the names and pictures of all the children that her husband had saved. Grete gave the notebook to a journalist and Winton was invited to appear on a television program. He didn’t know the audience was comprised of all the people whose lives he had saved. Now adults, they came to express their profound thankfulness. When counting the 669 children that he saved, along with their offspring of children and grandchildren, Nicholas Winton saved the lives of over 15,000 people.

The people whose lives he saved never knew who did this kind act until contacted by the television program. They came with tears and joy, hugging and kissing the man who helped them escape the gas chambers, many who now have children, that would have otherwise never existed.

As a six-year-old, former Labour MP, Lord Dubs, was one of the children who was put on a train out of Czechoslovakia.

He paid an emotional tribute to his rescuer as “just one of those very special human beings”. “The real fact is that he was a man who saved my life, and a lot of us who came on the Kindertransport owe him an enormous debt.

“His legacy is that when there is a need for you to do something for your fellow human beings, you have got to do it,” he said.

A legacy was being written on the pages of history by a person who never mentioned a word of his heroic deeds all those years ago, when evil seemed to rein, yet heroes prevailed.

Sir Nicholas Winton was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2003 and was awarded the Order of The White Lion by Czech president Milos Zeman. His humility and courage has inspired new generations, told in the video here. He passed away in 2015 at the amazing age of 106.

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  1. MarciN Member

    Oh my gosh. What a legacy indeed.

    Thank you.

    • #1
    • October 30, 2017, at 5:19 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  2. Lois Lane Coolidge

    I have to like this because I use Sir Winton in my class about the time everyone feels humanity is completely bankrupt, and no one does anything to stop evil from advancing. I’m glad he was eventually recognized, and I cry every single time the kids he rescued stand up all around him in the “This is Your Life” video. Every. Single. Time.

    • #2
    • October 30, 2017, at 5:21 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
  3. MarciN Member

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    I have to like this because I use Sir Winton in my class about the time everyone feels humanity is completely bankrupt, and no one does anything to stop evil from advancing. I’m glad he was eventually recognized, and I cry every single time the kids he rescued stand up all around him in the “This is Your Life” video. Every. Single. Time.

    I’m sure they do. :)

    • #3
    • October 30, 2017, at 5:22 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    I have to like this because I use Sir Winton in my class about the time everyone feels humanity is completely bankrupt, and no one does anything to stop evil from advancing. I’m glad he was eventually recognized, and I cry every single time the kids he rescued stand up all around him in the “This is Your Life” video. Every. Single. Time.

    One of the most moving things I’ve ever seen.

    • #4
    • October 30, 2017, at 5:25 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  5. MarciN Member

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    I have to like this because I use Sir Winton in my class about the time everyone feels humanity is completely bankrupt, and no one does anything to stop evil from advancing. I’m glad he was eventually recognized, and I cry every single time the kids he rescued stand up all around him in the “This is Your Life” video. Every. Single. Time.

    A little bit off the subject, but I have a funny story that warms my heart every time I think about it.

    One rainy day, I had a house full of middle school kids. So we went to BlockBuster to get a movie for the afternoon. The kids couldn’t decide on one, so I grabbed Man of la Mancha. I made the popcorn and left the kids while I went into my office to work. In a scene I will never forget, I came out of my office to get some coffee, and all of the kids in the room were in tears. “Mom, you may never pick the movie again!”

    Here’s a great video that I love to watch from the movie.

    • #5
    • October 30, 2017, at 6:44 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  6. tigerlily Member

    Thanks for posting this FSC.

    • #6
    • October 30, 2017, at 7:40 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  7. Gossamer Cat Coolidge

    Well, that certainly helped my dry eyes! Heroes are among us; and they don’t use twitter.

    • #7
    • October 30, 2017, at 11:27 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  8. Patrick McClure Coolidge

    Bravery comes in unassuming packages. Makes me wonder if I would have the courage of my convictions as strong as Sir Winton did.

    • #8
    • October 31, 2017, at 4:45 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Thanks, FSC. These stories always restore my hope for mankind. As long as these people exist, we can all hope.

    • #9
    • October 31, 2017, at 6:05 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat

    Patrick McClure (View Comment):
    Bravery comes in unassuming packages. Makes me wonder if I would have the courage of my convictions as strong as Sir Winton did.

    I thought of that too – so many risked their lives to save others during that awful time. He is an inspiration to me – I wonder how many unspoken heroes we have today, working quietly behind the scenes, that we may never know?

    • #10
    • October 31, 2017, at 7:10 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  11. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Thanks, FSC. These stories always restore my hope for mankind. As long as these people exist, we can all hope.

    Me too – PS – I hope you will keep a journal on your visit to Israel to share with us.

    • #11
    • October 31, 2017, at 7:11 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    Me too – PS – I hope you will keep a journal on your visit to Israel to share with us.

    Thanks, FSC. My intention is do that, but we’ll see.

    • #12
    • October 31, 2017, at 8:40 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. Profile Photo Member

    The math–that a legacy of 669 is now a legacy of more than 15,000–is a stark reminder of the way that even a single good deed can blossom. Make you want to do one more thing each day.

    • #13
    • October 31, 2017, at 11:30 AM PDT
    • 5 likes

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