The following post is based on a true story. There once lived a man from London UK. Not a very tall, good looking or muscular individual. Neither boastful nor braggart like you might see in some super hero movie these days. Just a plain ordinary man to look at. He was somewhat intelligent but very modest and humble. He did play sports and had a decent job in the stock market. He lived by a simple philosophy... if something is not impossible, there must be a way of doing it. What is most intriguing about this story is that it almost went undiscovered for close to 50 years.
This tale begins in late 1938 when Europe was on the brink of war. The newspapers in London were writing of what Germany and Hitler were doing or going to do. This disturbed our protaganist greatly, his name is Nicholas. News articles with the headlines "Refugees in Czecho-Slovakia" Plight of Thousands Who Were Sent Back for Promised Plebiscites Exposed To German Persecution made Nicholas distraught and he simply wondered what could he do? Most of these refugees were Jewish and it was becoming increasingly apparent that Hitler did not have a fondness for them. So Nicholas decided to take a two week vacation and went to Prague.
When Nicholas arrived he went out into the camps where the people had been displaced and put. It was winter and it was cold. At this point in history immigration wasn't an option and the countries of the wolrd closed it's doors to these people. The conditions were brutal for the 150,000 people...especially the children. Nicholas decided to help.
He set up shop in a hotel at the city center of Prague and began looking into and thinking, "how can I help these refugees, especially the children get out of here." He was not a bureaucrat and had zero experience at this type of task at all. So he organized a small group of people with the simple goal of getting as many children out of Prague as quick as he could.
His idea spread like wildfire and people and parents starting coming to him in increasing numbers. There was simply not enough time in the day to speak with them all. He would work until 2 a.m. in the morning, taking down names. Nicholas would sleep but a few hours and then up at the crack of dawn to meet more people. All of them with the same plea, "take my child, please take my child."
Upon his return to London he had lists with hundreds of names of children and was determined that his government and the authorities take him seriously. Then he used his ingenuity and a printing press. He took "official stationary" from an established refugee organization, added the words "Childrens Section" and made himself the chairman. A smoke and mirror act to say the least but he was taken notice of. He had a tiny office with his mother in charge and a small staff of volunteers. Nicholas was a stock broker by day and fought British bureaucracy by night. He asked only one other country to help his cause and take in more children. He wrote to then President Roosevelt and a minor official at the U.S. embassy in London replied, The United Stated government was unable to help.
Great Britian agreed to help but on the condition that Nicholas found willing families to take the children in. Even after Nicholas circulated the photos to advertisers of newspapers and periodicles the British government "dragged their feet" with the travel documents. Nicholas decided to have them forged. He used his own money and even resorted to blackmail to get what he needed. In Nicholas' mind if it worked, that's all that mattered. On March 14, 1939 the first 20 children left Prague. On March 15th Hitler and German troops invaded (actually rode down the main avenue) and began occupying the city of Prague & Czecho-Slovakia.
Through the spring and summertime of 1939, seven trains loaded with over 600 children rode through the heart of then Nazi Germany and into Holland where they took a ferry to the U.K. then unto 1 more train into London. An eighth train with over 250 children was suppose to have left on Sept 1st. On that day war had been declared and no trains were permitted to leave. Nicholas never knew what became of the occupants on that eighth train, he suspected that none of them survived. Rumor has it that two years later 90,000 Czech-jews and those children may have been shipped to the concentration camp Theresienstadt and from there to Auschwitz.
During the war Nicholas volunteered as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross, then trained pilots in the Royal Air Force. He eventually married and raised a family and for nearly 50 years told no one about what happened in Prague.
One day his wife was organizing their attic home when she came upon an old ledger with the names of children, photos and other documents. His story eventually got out and in 1988 the BBC had a television program titled "That's Life" and it was the first time his story was told to the public.
Nicholas Winton became a humanitarian and opened several homes for the elderly in the U.K. In 2003 he was knighted for what he had done in Prauge becoming Sir Nicholas Winton. Several movies about this have been made He passed away in 2015 at the age of 106 years old.
Check out the wiki link in the popular culture section it shows the titles of 3 films that were made about his life https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_Winton
In 2013 a movie called Nicky's Family was made.... check out the trailer...
I wrote this post because earlier in the day President Trump along with U.K and French forces attacked Syria with missle strikes. The Syrian conflict has been going on for some time now. What is happening with the refugees? What is happening to the children? Where are the people like Sir Nicholas Winton when we need them?
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