Nicholas Winton, known as “Britain’s Schindler” for his rescuing 669 Jewish children from the Holocaust, died in England on Wednesday at the age of 106.
He remained silent about his heroism in helping the children escape from Czechoslovakia until his wife found a scrapbook in the attic of their home in 1988. It included a record of names and pictures of the children whom he helped rescue and prompted an exposure of his heroism.
Winton discovered the situation of Jews in Czechoslovakia when he visited there at the behest of a friend in 1938. A stockbroker by trade, Winton bribed German officials and forged document to rescue children, despite the Gestapo’s being on his trail.
He returned to Britain a year later and continued to help rescue efforts by raising money and finding foster homes for more children whom two friends were still working to rescue from within Czechoslovakia. Queen Elizabeth granted Winton knighthood for his work.
The New York Times reported that among “Winton’s children” are film director Karel Reisz, who made “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” and “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning” (1960); Lord Alfred Dubs, who became a member of Parliament; Joe Schlesinger, a Canadian broadcast correspondent; Hugo Marom, a founder of the Israeli Air Force; author Vera Gissing; and Renata Laxová, a geneticist who discovered the Neu-Laxová Syndrome, a congenital abnormality.
Winton’s wife died in 1999, and he is survived by two children and grandchildren.
Nicholas Winton was born on 19 May 1909 in Hampstead, London, a son of Barbara (née Wertheimer) and Rudolph Wertheim. His parents were German Jews who had moved to London two years earlier.The family name was Wertheim, but they changed it to Winton in an effort at integration. They also converted to Christianity, and Winton was baptized.