British man Sir Nicholas Winton is that hero. During WWII, Winton secretly arranged the safe passage of 669 Jewish children from four Nazi occupied countries. When they arrived in his native England, Winton did his utmost to ensure British families would take the children in.
The entire operation took eight trains and a lot of careful planning. Winton kept the entire operation so secret that even his wife knew nothing about it until half a century later, when she discovered a scrapbook listing the names of all the children he’d saved in their attic.
Winton passed away in 2015 at the ripe old age of 106, but footage of Winton from a 1988 episode of the BBC’s That’s Life programme has recently been making the rounds online.
Winton was filmed sitting in an audience of people, all of whom were the children he’d helped save during the war. Right up until the moment they all stand up around him, Winton had no idea who the audience members were.
So how was the incredible reunion made possible? Well, Winton’s wife Greta sent out letters to the 669 children on his list. Over 200 responses were received, and several of those agreed to appear on the programme. Greta successfully managed to organise the reunion in complete secret.
With a tear in his eye, Winton turns around to the sudden realisation that every single person around him is alive as a direct result of his brave actions. What an incredible story.
After his death in 2015, British Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to Sir Nicholas, tweeting: “The world has lost a great man. We must never forget Sir Nicholas Winton’s humanity in saving so many children from the Holocaust.”
Daniel Taub, Israel’s ambassador to the UK, said: “He was a hero of our time, having saved 669 Jewish children from the Nazi regime. His legacy, as a point of light in an era of darkness, will forever be remembered.”
In these trying political times, it’s important to remember that those with brave hearts and open minds are the ones who will always be remembered. Sir Nicholas Winton is testament to that.