Czech Republic Honors Civilian Hero

The Czech Republic was where Sir Nicholas Winton, a British stockbroker, saved the lives of hundreds of Jews. To be exact, he saved 669 children of Jewish descent who would have otherwise become targets of the Holocaust. Now, Winton is to receive the Order of the White Lion, which is the highest show of honor that the nation has to offer. All of the children that Winton saved were from the Czech Republic.

Winton was tacit about his actions, not out of secrecy but out of modesty. He did not see himself as having done anything that the average person would not do. When he set up over 650 children to be moved safely into Great Britain rather than suffer at concentration camps, his service to the Czech Republic was not (in his eyes) anything of note. This humble man has now lived to a remarkable age of 105 before being awarded the renowned Order of the White Lion for his incredible feats of benevolence.

The president of the nation himself honored Winton for his part in freeing the young children, stating that no better gift could have been given to them. Winton was not a military men and did not have to uphold any sort of service duty. He went to the Czech Republic when he had originally had plans to go skiing in Switzerland. He wasted no time in saving lives, immediately finding that the laws of Great Britain at the time made it easier to transport people of a younger age.

For every child needing safe haven, Winton located a willing home for them. Some of them found it impossible to return, as the war claimed many of their parents. He did it all in secrecy, and even his own family only found out about his work in the Czech Republic when his wife just happened to stumble upon an old book of his which contained some of the information he used in saving the children, The Telegraph reports.

The Czech Republic aired a television special one night before Winton turned 105 years old, and in his interview he claimed that he did not like being in the spotlight. Still, there is no denying his contribution to the effort of saving Jewish lives. Somewhere around five thousand relatives of the original children he saved are now living today. In October of this year, Winton will journey to the Czech Republic to receive the Order of the White Lion over 70 years following his efforts to save the nation’s youth.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE