Time Magazine reports:
“Britain’s Schindler” stepped up to save children while the world was burning
What if the only way you can be good is to be great? There are moments in history when people are confronted by moral choices so stark that they either have to take risks or turn away. In 1938 it became clear that the Jewish children of Europe were marked for extinction. All across the world, people came to know this shocking truth. And all across the world, people did what we all do—they turned the page of the paper, took another sip of coffee, shook their heads at the tragedy of it all.
Sir Nicholas Winton, who died Wednesday at the age of 106, realized the threat while traveling through Czechoslovakia. Great turning points in human history do not take place in public but in a secret chamber in the hearts of human beings. The heart must be awake before the dramatic action. Winton, a Jew by descent who had been raised as a Christian, decided that he could not simply shake his head and drink his coffee and know that these children would die. His heart woke; he decided to be good by being great.
Winton arranged trains to carry children from Nazi-occupied Prague to Britain. He became the “one-man children’s section of the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia.” His plans were ambitious: He drew up lists of thousands of children and persuaded families to accept these refugee children.
So many people today are alive thanks to him. But remarkably he told no one about it.
Winton kept quiet about his work, and the truth of his heroism did not come to light for decades. For almost 50 years he was silent until his wife found documents in the attic, and his story was told.
He didn;’t even tell his wife he saved 669 children from extinction. He saw his actions as ordinary.
He will not be forgotten.