Thursday, July 22, 2021

Remembering Sir Nicholas Winton

All photos courtesy of Unsplash 

Towards the end of 1938, a stock-broker, born to German-Jewish parents, travelled from England, which had become his home, to Prague, Czechoslovakia, knowing that upon arrival, he would find many people displaced from their homes. Some were living with relatives, others living rough or in camps with little food and trying their best to keep warm in the winter conditions. At the age of 29, he had so far lived a relatively comfortable life, but hearing about Jews who had lost their jobs and suffered other forms of persecution, he set out to see if there was anything he could do to help.

Whilst a number of organisations were working away, things were getting tougher. He was concerned with rescuing children, but amongst other challenges, was the problem of transporting unaccompanied children across Europe into Britain. Nicholas used his political connections to put certain things in order and his mother went to the ‘Home Office’ to make his rescue plan possible.
The British government had already begun to evacuate children from the south to the north, so, once in the country, it was a case of getting them included within that number. With help from others, including families prepared to take the needy children, Nicholas secured them homes and permission for transportation was given.

During the middle of 1939, a number of trains brought 669 children from Prague to Britain, travelling through Nazi Germany and the Netherlands. Another 250 were due to leave on the 1st of September 1939, but on that day, Hitler invaded Poland and Britain declared war on Germany. Sadly, the train never departed.

Although he never tried to hide what he did, neither did Nicolas talk about it very much and he was later publicly recognised for his tremendous work. Whilst some have acclaimed him as a hero; he said that apart from a brief period of time he spent in Germany, he was never really in any danger and gave credit to others who had helped him. Yet clearly, he did what he could to save as many children as possible at cost to himself in terms of time as well as money.

Amongst numerous honours, some awarded by the Czech government, in 2003 Nicholas Winton became ‘Sir Nicholas Winton’. Yet possibly the most memorable moment was when his tremendous work was openly acknowledged. In 1988 the BBC invited him as an audience member onto the show ‘That’s Life’ where Esther Rantzen asked all those who owed their lives to Nicholas Winton to stand up. It was an emotional moment for him, but also for the ‘children’, who for the first time had the opportunity to personally thank the one who had saved their lives. Some also kept in touch afterward.

Thinking of the great work accomplished by Sir Nicholas may remind us of another, greater sacrifice. Someone who left the splendour of heaven and came with great humility right to those who were in need. He came to ‘give His life a ransom for many’. Out of pity, He came; out of love He died, and I can say, ‘the Son of God... loved me, and gave Himself for me’.

God has honoured Him and exalted Him high over all.

Today, His great work is being made known all over the world.

Today, He waits to hear the appreciation of those who personally recognise His sacrifice for them.

Today, why not call Him by the name God has given Him? ‘Lord’.

Written by Tom Merriman For Messages with Meaning (19/07/21) & Your542Day 


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