Sir Nicholas Winton

Just to point out one little thing:

Sir Nicholas Winton, who has died aged 106, saved the lives of 669 children, most of them Jewish, from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939; but his achievement long went unrecognised and for 50 years few of the children knew their saviour’s name.

He was given the top medal in Prague last year. And OK, so I tend to hang around educated and switched on people. But several times I was asked “Did you see about that British bloke?” and this is among provincial Czechs. He gained, not fame, but honour, which is what should have happened and did.

And fame too:

On the day the newspaper published the story, Winton appeared on the BBC television That’s Life! show to discuss it. A week later he appeared on the programme again; this time the presenter Esther Rantzen invited the studio audience to stand up if they owed their life to Nicholas Winton, and the entire audience rose to its feet. “It was all absolutely awful,” Winton complained. He continued to insist he had never done anything special: “I just saw what was going on and did what I could to help.”

9 thoughts on “Sir Nicholas Winton”

  1. Wonky Moral Compass

    We don’t make them like that anymore, but maybe we’ve still got the blueprints somewhere.

  2. Please can we stop saying “my bad” – it’s fucking hideous.

    WTF is wrong with “My mistake”????!!!

  3. Yes, its good when lives are saved.
    Rather dwarfed by the actions of a nazi named John Rabe. Saved a few more but not saving Jews so not seen the same way…
    Seriously there will be many unsung heroes around – courage and willingness to act despite the risks is found in the unlikeliest of places.

  4. WMC,

    “We don’t make them like that anymore, but maybe we’ve still got the blueprints somewhere.”

    I think there is a “rising to the occassion” in certain times. Oskar Schindler was a hopeless man for most of his life- in debt, failed businesses, failed marriages. But for about 3 or 4 years of his life, he was a Big Damn Hero.

    And I’m not taking anything away from Winton. Even in those times, people who did what he did were rare.

  5. So Much for Subtlety

    Wonky Moral Compass – “We don’t make them like that anymore, but maybe we’ve still got the blueprints somewhere.”

    No, I don’t think we do:

    Bauman then enlisted in the Soviet-controlled Polish First Army, working as a political education instructor. He took part in the battles of Kolberg (now Kołobrzeg) and Berlin. In May 1945 he was awarded the Military Cross of Valour.

    According to the Institute of National Remembrance, from 1945 to 1953 Bauman was a political officer in the Internal Security Corps (KBW),[2] a military unit formed to combat Ukrainian nationalist insurgents and part of the remnants of the Polish Home Army .

    Further Bauman worked as an informer for the Military Intelligence from 1945 to 1948. However, the nature and extent of his collaboration remain unknown, as well as the exact circumstances under which it was terminated.[2]

    In an interview in The Guardian, Bauman confirmed that he had been a committed communist during and after World War II and had never made a secret of it. He admitted, however, that joining the military intelligence service at age 19 was a mistake even though he had a “dull” desk-job and did not remember informing on anyone.
    Bauman was awarded the European Amalfi Prize for Sociology and Social Sciences in 1992 and the Theodor W. Adorno Award of the city of Frankfurt in 1998. He has been awarded in 2010, jointly with Alain Touraine, the Príncipe de Asturias Prize for Communication and the Humanities.[15]

    The University of Leeds launched The Bauman Institute within its School of Sociology and Social Policy in Bauman’s honour in September 2010.[16]

    The University of Wrocław planned to award Bauman an honorary doctorate in October 2013.[17] However, as a reaction to a major anti-communist and anti-semitic uproar against him, he eventually rejected the award.

    Only the Poles, by the sounds of it, have any sort of moral compass at all.

    Tim Newman – “By contrast, the Soviets celebrated the actions of such men as Raoul Wallenberg by arresting them and letting them die in jail.”

    Tortured to death more like.

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