Because of Sir Nicholas Winton, a London stockbroker, 669 children from Czechoslovakia survived World War II. Last week in Prague, the 105-year-old was given the highest honor of the Czech Republic, the Order of the White Lion, and honored by some of the remaining children that he saved — now in their 80s.
In 1939, Winton, the son of German Jewish immigrants who changed their name from Wertheim and converted to Christianity, raised money, arranged visas, and found host families for 669 children from Czechoslovakia, at that time occupied by the Nazis. It took eight transports for all of the mostly Jewish children to arrive in Britain, The New York Times reports. One transport was canceled after Hitler invaded Poland, and those 250 children died in the Holocaust.
Winton kept quiet about what he did, but in 1988 his wife found a scrapbook with information about the rescue missions. He ended up being featured on a BBC show, and now there are statues of Winton in Prague and London. Ever discrete, Winton told The Times, "I didn't really keep it a secret, I just didn't talk about it."