Praha hlavní nádraží: Sir Nicholas Winton
Nicholas Winton’s humanitarian work in saving hundreds of Jewish children from the grim certainty of the Holocaust came to light only in 1988. But in the years since, thanks to the efforts of the Slovak film maker Matej Mináč and others, his story has become the stuff of legend.
This unassuming man, born in London of German Jewish parents, famously cut short a skiing holiday to set up an office in the Grand Hotel Evropa from where he arranged the transportation of 669 children to England between November 1938 and the outbreak of war. He was able to do so thanks to a law that allowed refugees up to 17 years of age to be sent to Britain on special trains informally known as ‘Kindertransport’, or ‘Children’s transport’. Winton’s was not the only such effort – 10,000 children from Central Europe made it out successfully – but it has become one of the most celebrated.
On 1 September 2009, the 70th anniversary of the last Kindertransport to leave the city, a steam train specially commissioned by the Czech government recreated the historic journey to London from Prague’s main station, Hlavní nádraží. On the same date, this life-size statue of Winton by the Venezuelan sculptress Flor Kent was unveiled on Platform 1. It shows the 30-year old stockbroker accompanied by two rescued children alongside a poignantly iconic suitcase. A similar statue commemorating all Kindertransport children (also by Flor Kent) is to be found at London’s Liverpool Street station.
Winton was knighted in 2003. On 19 May 2014, his 105th birthday, it was announced that he would be awarded the highest Czech honour, the Order of the White Lion. He died on 1 July 2015.