Britain's Own Schindler; the Extraordinary Story of the British Banker Who Saved Hundreds of Jewish Children from under Hitler's Nose as the Nazis Began Their Reign of Terror

Daily Mail (London), March 28, 1998 | Go to article overview

Britain's Own Schindler; the Extraordinary Story of the British Banker Who Saved Hundreds of Jewish Children from under Hitler's Nose as the Nazis Began Their Reign of Terror


Byline: GENEVIEVE FOX

FOR 30-year-old Nicholas Winton it should have been the quiet end to another unremarkable day. But the phone call he received on his return from work at the London Stock Exchange to his small Hampstead flat that December evening in 1938 changed his life.

The caller was his old friend Martin Blake and Winton assumed he had some last-minute arrangements for their forthcoming ski trip to Switzerland. 'The skiing's off,' said Blake, a Westminster schoolmaster. 'I am off to Prague instead.

I have a most interesting assignment and I need your help. Come as soon as you can. And don't bother bringing your skis.' Winton had known Blake for so long that he wasn't at all perturbed by the cryptic invitation. He trusted his friend.

He duly changed his travel arrangements and set off for Prague as soon as he could.

When the slim, bespectacled young man arrived at Prague's Hotel Sroubek (now Hotel Europa) late on a Tuesday evening just before Christmas, he had no idea what power he would come to wield.

He certainly did not imagine that between March 1939, when German forces marched into Czechoslovakia, and the outbreak of World War II in September that year, he would become the sav-iour of more than 600 Czechoslovakian Jewish children; that he would enter their names on a list as sacred as that drawn up by the industrialist Oskar Schindler some five years later; and that his name would be blessed, to this day, by those he helped to cheat death.

Martin Blake explained the cryptic summons to his friend: he had become an emissary for the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia, a body recently set up to deal with the flood of refugees and political enemies of the Third Reich who had fled to Prague after the occupation of the Sudetenland two months previously.

HITLER had convinced the British Premier Neville Chamberlain in September 1938 that his proposed annexation of the Sudetenland would be his 'last territorial claim' in Europe. But Nicholas Winton was one of those convinced that war was imminent and so he agreed without hesitation to help.

That December he established makeshift headquarters in a tiny office in the Hotel Sroubek in Wenceslas Square - then as now presided over by an equestrian statue of the eponymous saint who, according to legend, is ready to gallop into action to save the Czechs in their hour of need.

'It was only then,' explains Winton, now a robust 89 and living in Surrey with his wife, 'that I found out that the children weren't being looked after. I decided I'd help the children, too, if I could get permits when I came back to Britain.' Anti-Semitism was endemic throughout Europe and news of Kristallnacht, the bloody pogrom against German and Austrian Jews on the nights of November 9 and 10, 1938, had reached Prague. Jewish Czechs feared for their lives - and particularly those of their children.

Winton's immediate, unenviable task was to compile a list of the most vulnerable children.

Hearing of the Englishman of Wenceslas Square, Jewish parents formed long queues outside his office overnight. 'It seemed hopeless,' he said years later.

'Each group felt that they were the most urgent. How could I, or anyone else in London, choose the most urgent cases?

'Often it was heartbreaking.

Some had plenty of money, others not the price of a meal. Some of the mothers were already "on the streets" to get money to buy food for themselves and their children. I began to realise what suffering there is when armies start to march.' He did eventually compile his list and, on his return to Britain, embarked on the next stage of his mission: how to get these Jewish children to the UK.

Among refugee parents in Britain, the air was thick with rumours of an Englishman who was bringing six trainloads of Czechoslovakian children into the UK as part of the Kinder-transporte which, in all, would save the lives of 10,000 children from Nazi-occupied Europe. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Britain's Own Schindler; the Extraordinary Story of the British Banker Who Saved Hundreds of Jewish Children from under Hitler's Nose as the Nazis Began Their Reign of Terror
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.