Not many people know the name of Nicolas Winton, who is now 101 years old. He was a stockbroker who became aware of the plight of Jewish when he was on holiday in Prague at Christmas 1938. In the months leading up to the outbreak of World War II he organised the rescue of 669 Jewish children from German-occupied Czechoslovakia through an operation known as Kindertransport. He found homes for the children and arranged safe passage for them to Britain. The last group, which left Prague on 3 September 1939, was sent back because the Nazis had invaded Poland. Many of the parents perished in Auschwitz.
Nicholas Winton kept the wonderful things he did, in saving so many Jewish children, secret for more than 40 years until his wife, Greta, found a detailed scrapbook in the attic in 1988. In 2002, at the age of 93, he received a Knighthood for this work.
Nicholas Winton illustrates the amazing contrasts there are in the actions of human beings. Seeing the growing power of the Nazis in Europe, which led to the death of millions of Jewish people, he took action to save lives. The death of millions of Jewish people in the Nazi concentration camps was one of the greatest acts of evil in the history of the world. It is a warning to us all of the frightening capacity for evil in the human heart. The courageous act of one man in saving so many lives shows us the amazing capacity of human beings for goodness and kindness.
The reticence of Nicholas Winton to tell people what he did is remarkable, especially in an age of shallow “celebrities”. Jesus spoke of the great day when God will judge all people. No-one will escape his righteous judgement. The King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” The righteous will say they can’t remember doing these things for him to which the King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these my brothers, you did for me.”