Children’s campaign for ‘British Schindler’ Sir Nicholas Winton
13. June 2013
A campaign started by schoolchildren from Open Gate School in the Czech Republic for Sir Nicholas Winton to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize has attracted over 212,000 signatures from across the globe in six months. The students were inspired to run the campaign after hearing about his actions to rescue children from the Nazi threat in Prague on the eve of WWII and on 14th June some of them will travel to Oslo to present their petition to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee in person.
Sir Nicholas Winton is now 104, and the students, along with the 212,762 people (as of 13th June) who have already signed their petition, are keen that his actions should be recognised before it is too late. The Nobel Peace Prize cannot be awarded posthumously, so this may well be the last opportunity for this unsung British hero to be honoured in this way - he would be the oldest ever recipient.
“We believe that Sir Nicholas Winton should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for this deed. Through his actions, he contributed to the idea of “the fraternity of nations” as set out in Alfred Nobel’s final testament,” says Dominika Kourilova, student at the Open Gate School, Prague, Czech Republic.
Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines, one of the rescued ‘Winton Children’ adds: “How can one express in a sentence or two the feeling about a man who saved your life. When I look at my children, grandchildren and now great-grandchildren I realise we are all part of a family – now of a few thousand – which would have never been but for Sir Nicholas Winton spending those fateful weeks in Prague in 1939, and against all odds saving nearly 700 of us by bringing us to England.
“He must never be forgotten and by being awarded the Nobel Prize his action should be an example of the difference one can make not merely by leading an exemplary life in a purely passive way of doing no wrong, but going out and finding and helping those suffering and in danger.”
About Sir Nicholas Winton and the campaign
In January 1939, Nicholas Winton, a 30-year-old stockbroker, abandoned his holiday plans to answer a call for help from a friend working in Prague who was concerned by the lack of provision for saving Jews from the Nazis. Winton worked tirelessly in Prague and then back in England to organise rail transport and find foster families and the funds required by the British government for each child, culminating in the rescue of 669 mostly Jewish children on seven trains. The eighth train, carrying 250 children, was due to leave on 1st September, but with the outbreak of the war the borders of the Reich had been sealed and it was halted on the platform – none of the children on that train survived the war.
Winton didn't tell anyone about his heroic actions and it wasn't until 50years later, when his wife found some documents while clearing out the attic, that the story became public. Unbeknown to him, a number of the children he'd rescued were traced and he was reunited with them on the BBC That's Life programme in 1988.
See the clip here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_nFuJAF5F0
Towards the end of 2012, a couple of the ‘Winton Children’ gave a talk to teenaged students at Open Gate School near Prague. The students were so moved by his selfless courage to help people he had never met in a country he did not know, that they felt that his actions deserved the highest possible recognition, and of their own volition set about launching a campaign for him to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
For more information, or to support the campaign, please visit:
Online petition: www.nicholaswinton.eu/en and www.change.org/petitions/nobel-prize-committee-award-sir-nicholas-winton-the-nobel-peace-prize
Short video made by Open Gate School’s students www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQHdiCA7tn8
Open Gate School www.opengate.cz/en/
The Kellner Family Foundation www.kellnerfoundation.cz/index.php?language=en
Notes for editors:
Open Gate is the first Czech grammar school, certified since 2009, to teach according to the standards of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. The school’s mission is to offer all young people who show sufficient academic aptitude an opportunity to fulfil their potential, regardless of their family background or personal situation. Financial support for students from socially disadvantaged environments is provided by The Kellner Family Foundation, established by Mrs. Renáta Kellnerová and Mr. Petr Kellner for this purpose.