A Man Who Didn’t Give in: Sir Nicholas Winton

 

“I work on the motto that if something isn’t impossible, there must be a way of doing it.” So said Sir Nicholas Winton when asked how he saved the lives of 669 children. Sir Nicholas died yesterday at the age of 106. Before you give up on whatever challenge faces you, get to know his story. The video documentary (above) includes a 2014 interview of Winton. I wrote this essay in 2009: To Save One Life is to Save the World/

The Power of a Picture

There are times when words fail, no matter how gifted the writer. Goethe, one of the most gifted, said that “Music begins where words end,” but even choosing the music for the above picture would be difficult.

I will say very little about the photo reproduction and leave the rest to you. The photo was taken at a wedding, the happiest of occasions. The year was 1928. The place, Hungary. The Jewish wedding of Ibolya Heisler and Erno Kaufmann. By now you are getting the picture.

Fifty-eight people, all numbered and most identified. Many would eventually be numbered differently: with tatooed identification numbers placed on the left forearm as they were swept into the Holocaust during World War II (1939 – 1945).

April 8th is Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is a day to honor those lost, but also intended to warn us never to forget what happened to them; and never to permit this depth of human cruelty to occur again. And yet, my hunch is that for the survivors and their children there has been no difficulty in remembering. The problem is instead that it is so difficult to forget.

Only two of those pictured survived the Nazi attempt to exterminate the entire Jewish population of Europe.

Each one with a life much like yours or mine. Each one. If you click on the photo, you will see an enlarged version and be able to make out the faces. Their names — the names that the Nazis replaced with numbers — can be found below.

The photo comes courtesy of the children of the two survivors.

M=male; F=female Taken at Ibolya Heisler’s wedding

(6th revision 7/7/86) Date:  Summer of 1928 (LGF)

1. F Unknown relative of #31 (OHM).  KEMPFNER, Piroska, niece of #48 (LGF)

2. M Eldest son of Isidor BRAUN, brother of #43 (OHM); BRAUN, Francis, son of #18 & #48 (LGF)

3. F HEISLER, Hermin, nee Reisz, sister of #6, married HEISLER, Ferenc, nephew of #13 & 1st cousin #37 (TH, MH, & LGF)

4. F Rosa, our maid (LGF)

5. F KEMPFNER, Irma, daughter of #9 & niece of #48 (LGF)

6. F HEISLER, Ilona, nee Reisz, wife of #37, sister of #3 (TH, MH, OHM, LGF)

7. F unknown KAUFMANN relative

8. F HEISLER, Imre’s wife, Sari (OHM):  HEISLER, Sara, wife of 1st cousin of #37 (LGF)

9. F KEMPFNER, Berta, sister-in-law of #48 **

10. F HEISLER, Ilus, daughter of #13 by 1st wife; sister of #37; married MARKUS, Imre (OHM); HEISLER, I., daughter of #13 by 1st wife, died in Auschwitz (LGF)

11. F HEFFER, Sara, daughter of #15 (LGF)

12. M KAUFMANN cousin (LGF)

13. M HEISLER, Marton (Mor) married (1) Julia Fischer (2) Arabella Weisz (MH, OHM, TH)

14. M KAUFMANN cousin (LGF)

15. F HEFFER, Theresa, second cousin of #43 (LGF)

16. M Unknown, KAUFMANN relative (LGF)

17. F KEMPFNER, Berta, sister-in-law of #48. **#9 & #17 are different persons (LGF)

18. M BRAUN, Isidor, brother of #43 (LGF)

19. F KAUFMANN, Katharine, sister of #45 & daughter of #46 (LGF)

20. F unknown KAUFMANN relative (LGF)

21. M KAUFMANN, Bernard, brother of #45 & son of #46 (LGF)

22. M Probably the gardener! (AMH)

23. F Wife of Bernard KAUFMANN, #21, (LGF)

24. F SCHWARTZ, Wilma, daughter of #25 & distant cousin of #43 (LGF)

25. F SCHWARTZ, Bertha, third cousin of #43 (LGF)

26. F SCHWARTZ, Vilma sister-in-law of #25 & relative of #43 (LGF)

27. F SCHWARTZ, Sydonia, cousin of #43 (LGF)

28. F Unknown KAUFMANN relative

29. F HEISLER, Margit, daughter of #43 married Greiner, Isidor (OHM) (LGF)

30. F HEISLER, Arabella Weisz, 2nd wife of #13 (MH)

31. F KOVACS, Frieda, nee Braun, sister of #43 (OHM); KEMPFNER (changed to KOVACS) Frieda, nee Braun (LGF)

32. M SCHNEIDER, Sandor married to #33 (TH, LGF)

33. F HEISLER, Bozsi, daughter of Heisler, Samuel & Fanny (TH); Heisler, Elizabeth married to #32 (LGF)

34. F Piroska, daughter of #42 who is 2nd cousin of #43 (LGF)

35. M Husband of #34 – they divorced later (LGF)

36. M ADLER, Bela, husband of #39 (LGF)

37. M HEISLER, Mihaly aka Michael, son of #13 by 1st wife (TH, MH)

38. F FISCHL, Josephine nee Heffer, daughter of #15 (LGF)

39. F BRAUN, Piri, cousin from #43’s side (OHM):  BRAUN, Piri, daughter of #18 & #48 & niece of #43; married (1) ADLER, (2) SPITZER, George (LGF)

40. F Baby:  FISCHL, Susan, daughter of #38 (LGF)

41. F Grandma KEMPFNER, mother of #48, & mother-in-law of #18 (LGF)

42. F SINGER, Sidonia, second cousin of #43 (LGF)

43. F HEISLER, Roza nee Braun married H., Jakab, brother of #13 (OHM, MH, TH, LGF)

44. F HEISLER, Ibolya, bride of #45, daughter of #43 (OHM, TH, LGF)

45. M KAUFMANN, Erno, groom of #44 (OHM); the bridegroom (LGF)

46. F KAUFMANN, mother of #45 — this was a wedding picture (OHM, LGF)

47. F SZILAGYI, Gundi, #43’s daughter by 1st marriage (OHM):  SZILAGYI, Kunigunda nee Braun, 1/2 sister of #43 by her father’s 1st marriage (LGF)

48. F BRAUN, Gizella, nee Kempfner, wife of #18 & sister-in-law of #43 (LGF)

49. F HEFFER, Ilona, daughter of #15 (LGF)

50. M Unknown Kaufmann relative (LGF)

51. F HEFFER, Jolan, daughter of #15 (LGF)

52. F KAUFMANN grandchild (LGF)

53. F GREINER, Edith, daughter of #29 (TH, LGF) married HOLZER, Alois (LGF)

54. F HEISLER, Klari, daughter of #3 & HEISLER, Ferenc, nephew of #13 (TH)

55. F GREINER, Lenke, daughter of #29 married Farkas Laszlo (TH, MH, LGF)

56. F KEMPFNER, Piroska, daughter of #17 (LGF)

57. M HEISLER, Laszlo (Laci), son of #43 (TH, OHM, LGF)

58. ? Baby on right:  Probably the child of #21 & #23 (AMH)

Dog:  Bundy (OHM);  Bundas (LGF)

Note: Sources indicated in parentheses ( ) following entry are:  OHM = Olga Heisler Marko;  TH = Tibor Heisler; MH = Mihaly or Michael Heisler; LGF = Lenke Greiner Farkas; AMH = Anne McDonnel Heisler

For a very different story on the same subject, click on the link: To Save One Life Is As If You Have Saved the World: Nicholas Winton and the “Kindertransport”.

Moral Choices

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It is easy to judge others, but are not without blind spots in judging ourselves. In the domain of moral choices, this becomes particularly problematic. How many times have you heard or thought to yourself, “If I were he, I would have done that differently.” Or perhaps, “If I were he, I wouldn’t have done what he did.” But how many times have you said to yourself, “If I’m honest, if I were in the same situation, I really don’t know what I would have done.”

I’ve listed below a few such moral dilemmas, some drawn from real life accounts. I hope you will put yourself in each one and ask yourself three questions:

1. What is the right thing to do?

2. Would I do the right thing?

3. Am I absolutely sure what the right thing is?

A. If you have seen the 1957 movie Abandon Ship, you know the moral quandary in which Alec Holmes (Tyrone Power) finds himself. Holmes is second in command of a luxury ocean liner which strikes a mine. He takes charge of a life boat when the captain (Lloyd Nolan) dies from injuries sustained in the explosion. The small vessel is seriously overcrowded (including numerous people who are hanging on from ocean-side), has limited supplies of food and medicine, and is in shark-infested waters with only small amounts of  shark repellent in hand. Those hoping to survive include the young and old of both genders, some of whom have been grievously injured as the ship went down.

Soon they become aware that no SOS was sent, because the explosion destroyed the radio. Concluding that no rescue ship will be looking for them, Holmes determines the infirm and weakest must be ordered off the so that the remaining individuals can have a chance at survival by rowing the very great distance to the nearest land mass, with enough food to sustain them until they reach it. What would you do if you were in charge?

B. This comes from the oral history of a Holocaust survivor as described in Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory by Lawrence Langer. Imagine that you are one among many Jews swept up in the Shoah (the Hebrew word for the Holocaust). You have been separated from your parents. You aren’t certain whether they are alive or dead. In fact, the Nazis have taken a large group of Jews, including your mother, to a place in the forest. They have required these people, at gun point, to dig a long, deep trench. While doing this, the soldiers are joking, smoking, and drinking. Once the trench has been dug to an adequate depth, a handful of the soldiers shoot their machine guns at the diggers along the line of the trench. Some are killed instantly, some dive into the trench to escape the gun fire, and others are wounded to various degrees of severity.

Meanwhile, you are far from this action. Perhaps you heard the gun fire in the distance. But once it is finished, the Nazis assemble a group of Jews to fill in the trench, to cover over their dirty work, quite literally. You are in this group, assigned to this grisly task. The soldiers have their guns on you and your co-workers, reminding you to work quickly or else. Much moaning and screams of pain are heard from this place. And one more thing: From the trench in front of you, a familiar voice is also heard, quite distinctly. It is your mother’s voice. She is telling you that she is not wounded and pleads for your help. What should you do? What would you do?

C. You are Agamemnon, the leader of the Greek expedition to Troy, provoked to war by the abduction of Helen of Troy, the wife of your brother Menelaeus. Before you and your 1000 ships can reach Troy, however, your fleet is stuck in place, stopped by the intercession of a god named Artemis. Time passes. Your supplies of food and water are dissipating. In addition to your family responsibility to defend the honor of your younger brother and help him retrieve his wife, you are aware that Zeus, the most powerful and important of the gods, has demanded that you sail to Troy. A seer is consulted to determine what might be done to appease the god Artemis and enable the fleet to be launched. You are told that you must sacrifice your virgin daughter, who is not far away. What should you do? What would you do?

D. The economy is tough. You have been out of work for some time. You don’t want to lose your home or apartment, and you are afraid that if you can’t find work soon, that might eventually happen. But, you’ve been networking, and it finally pays off. You are offered a job selling AK-47s, assault weapons that fire 600 rounds per minute, whose principal use is to kill people. While you would only be expected to sell these arms to “legitimate” buyers, you are also aware that the AK-47 is one of the world’s most frequently smuggled weapons and the rifles you sell are likely to get into the hands of criminals and drug lords. Should you take the job? What would you do?

E. An elderly aunt dies, one you have not seen in many years. She has named you the sole beneficiary of her estate, a total of $600,000. You are doing well financially, so the money is not a necessity for you, but you can certainly imagine an enormous number of uses for it (including charitable giving), not to mention the fact that it would allow you some peace of mind, knowing that you will be even more financially secure. You also have two siblings and two cousins, none of whom were more or less close to your aunt than you were. You are under no legal obligation to share the money with them, but you wonder whether you should. What would you do?

F. You are politically “pro-life.” You have campaigned for candidates who believe, as you do, in the sanctity of life from the moment of conception. You believe that abortion is murder, without qualification. Financially stable, you have donated money to prevent abortion. A young woman approaches you, someone you know, and who knows and respects the aforementioned beliefs. She is pregnant out-of-wedlock. She would like you to adopt her child. She knows that your two children, who you had when you were quite young, are grown, and believes you would be just the right parents for the new life she carries inside of her, in part because of your moral stance against abortion. She is terrified to give up her child to someone she doesn’t know and who might not provide the kind of home that she believes you and your spouse can provide. But the two of you had decided some time ago that you only wanted two children and, in fact, you have been looking forward to any empty nest and to the freedom it would permit you while you are still in your 40s. What should you do? What would you do?

G. The Holocaust again. This time you are a German gentile. You have a spouse and children. You are not wealthy, but you are getting by. You are not sympathetic to Hitler, but well aware of how the Gestapo works, and that anything seen by them as disloyal to Hitler and the Reich would likely cause you to be interrogated, perhaps sent to a concentration camp, or worse. Your family depends on you for their livelihood. A Jew comes to your door after dark. You know him, but only very casually. He asks you to hide him. You have heard rumors about what is happening to the Jews once they are sent away and, in fact, have been told by a witness that they are being murdered. What should you do? What would you do?

I am not here to give you answers to these questions, assuming that I would be able to come up with just one acceptable moral choice; or that I am some sort of moral authority, which I am not. It can be argued that some of these situations do not allow for a “right” action; not all situations in life offer absolute clarity. Life can be complicated, as these examples demonstrate.

To be sure, none of us are as good as we could be, but that does not mean what is good is always apparent. Indeed, in Aeschylus’s telling of Agamemnon’s story, the title character utters the words “(Which) of these things (choices) goes without disaster?” in describing the the conflict between his public responsibilities as leader of his troops, head of his (and his brother’s family), and the demands of the gods Zeus and Artemis versus his private responsibility as the father of young Iphigenia. The heart break is readily apparent in this man’s dilemma of whether to honor all the aforementioned interests except the one closest to his heart in “such sacrifice of (the) innocent blood…(of) the beauty of my house.”

On a daily basis, we can only do our best to lead moral, principled lives. Not just to talk about it, or formally worship a deity on a holy day, or even to donate some money, but to weave those beliefs into the fabric of daily, commonplace interactions, and try not to fool ourselves when we fall short; to minimize the everyday fibs, moral compromises, and inconsiderations; to show kindness, be forthright, go out of our way for others. To do what is right when no one is looking.

On the other hand, if we want to find out if our morality goes the distance, then we have to be tested — confronted with something difficult and costly, if not dangerous, if not horrible in its implications, as in the examples I’ve given you above; and until then, be humble, not knowing exactly what we would do.

Being a “nice person” is easy enough … until the chips are down.

Most of us won’t ever know the answers to the kinds of questions I have posed, that is, what we would do if actually faced with them.

Best not to know, I think.

The photo above called Choices, choices… is the work of Duncan Lilly, originally sourced from geograph.org.uk, sourced for this blog from Wikimedia Commons.

Who are You to Judge?

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Judgment is problematic. We need it, but not too much of it. Sort of like food.

While I will say more of a secular nature, the most famous comment on judgment comes from the New Testament — the Christian Bible — and is attributed to Jesus:

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

The point here is about the potential hypocrisy: for us to judge others by a standard that is harsher than the one that we apply to ourselves. It is akin to the famous late addition to the Christian Bible about Jesus turning away the men who were about to stone a woman who had committed adultery, with the comment “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” He later advises her to go and “sin no more.”

We judge lots of things. We need to judge the accused in the court room, lest wrong-doers do wrong with impunity. We judge ourselves and, one hopes that it improves our future behavior and helps us make good decisions.

We judge for self-protection, too; to comfort ourselves with the belief that the misfortune of others is due to their bad decision-making. By implication, if we make better decisions — display better judgment than they did — fate will be kinder to us. If we are careful, thoughtful, smart, do our homework, live by the Golden Rule, and so forth, good things will happen to us and we will avoid bad things.

This view seems to look at misfortune as some sort of anomaly, something that is outside of the normal course of events when, of course, it is not. All sorts of bad things happen to the innocent or unlucky. This is a troubling thought and our negative judgment of others — our attempt to make sense of their troubled lives or bad luck — makes it easier to sleep at night.

I’m not trying to justify all poor decisions here, many of which surely lead to disaster. Rather, it’s simply that not every bad thing is the result of some fatal flaw in the nature or conduct of a man or woman. Sometimes you can do everything right and have a bad result. Sometimes things just happen.

Judgment serves, too, as an attempt to guarantee immortality. Since most people see death as the worst possible outcome in any life, it shouldn’t be surprising that harsh judgment is often characteristic of religious fundamentalism. For the “by-the-book” parishioner, following all the rules of his or her particular religion guarantees a heavenly reward. And, for those who violate the doctrine, the faithful believe that there will usually be a trip to a darker place.

Judgment in this instance provides some comfort that death is not final; and perhaps the self-satisfaction of believing that in visiting judgment on the unfaithful, one is only trying to move them onto a path that will lead to heaven. For some of the religious fundamentalists I’m sure that it is; for others, however, it might only be a justification for venting angry condemnation of those who are different and who do not believe what the self-righteous might wish they did believe.

Judgment is often made by those who have no experience of the situation or circumstance in which the “judged” behavior occurred. To take a current example, consider Tiger Woods (or some other celebrity) reported to be unfaithful to his spouse. I am certainly not here to apologize for, or attempt to excuse Tiger Woods’ behavior. But I would say this: I suspect that non-celebrities have no idea of the temptation available to a man or woman in Woods’ position nearly every day of his life. And, as Oscar Wilde famously said, “I can resist anything but temptation.”

But, let us move away from the always controversial area of sex to give this idea a different look. I once asked the great Italian symphony conductor Carlo Maria Giulini about his judgment of the behavior of the German conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler. Furtwängler chose to stay in Germany during the period of the Third Reich, although he was not a Nazi. While he was helpful to some Jewish musicians, he also was used (and allowed himself to be used) as a propaganda tool by the Nazis.

Giulini , who began his career as an orchestral violist, had played under Furtwängler in Italy before the war. Moreover, during World War II, Giulini, never a fascist, had defected from the Italian army into which he had been conscripted and went into hiding for nine months, during which time he was a “wanted” man. But when I asked him about the controversy surrounding Furtwängler’s decision to stay in Germany and to allow himself to be a representative of a corrupt regime, Giulini was hesitant to judge:

It’s very, very difficult to judge the position of a man. It’s difficult for you in America to understand the problems we had in Europe. It’s difficult to put yourself in a position, in a special moment (in history), that is absolutely impossible to imagine if you didn’t live in that time. That last thing I should do is to express my opinion on this point. I had my personal political opinion, I took my position — very precise. I was not a fascist (laughs), and at the moment that I had to make a strong decision, I took it. But I am not in a position to do any criticism of another person.

We judge ourselves and others, to the extent that we do it, with the perfection of 20/20 vision that only comes in looking back, in hindsight, at what was done. We sometimes say “he should have known better than to” (make that business deal, marry that person, visit that neighborhood, smoke, drink — take your pick). Well, it is sometimes true. And, after all, I’m in the business of trying to help people to make better judgments. But mostly, that experience tells me that all people make mistakes and, assuming that they don’t mean to injure others, they mostly pay for those mistakes with their own blood, tears, and sweat.

As much as I recognize that judgment has its place, as a therapist, I try to meet people on their own terms, not coming from “on high” as a stern taskmaster or a fundamentalist-style religious figure “laying down the law.”

No, if you want that, you shouldn’t consult me. I am not here to condemn, although I don’t shy away from identifying right from wrong when it can be clearly seen.

Instead, I am here to help, to understand, to provide a bit of solace, to be a guide to a better way, if I can.

The gavel at the top of this essay is the work of Glentamara and sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

Therapy, Responsibility, and the Nuremberg Defense

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Therapy, like life, requires taking responsibility for what becomes of you. But, as the comedy team Cheech & Chong famously noted, “Taking responsibility is a lot of responsibility.” What does that have to do with “the Nuremberg Defense?” Read on.

If you are old enough (or a good student of history) the word Nuremberg has a certain resonance for you. It is a German town that was a center of the Holy Roman Empire and the Renaissance; later becoming the host of Nazi Party rallies between 1927 and 1938, the site of the passage of the Nuremberg Laws stripping German Jews of their citizenship, and equally well-known for the war crimes trials that were held after WWII, in an attempt to hold Nazi villains to account. Such Nazi higher-ups as Hans Frank, Rudolph Hess, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Alfred Rosenberg, Albert Speer, and Julius Streicher were brought to justice there (see above photo); Hermann Goering escaped hanging only by committing suicide.

A common refrain during the testimony of the accused was the statement “I was only following orders.” This line of explanation was used so often that it became known as “the Nuremberg Defense.” It was found insufficient by the judges, who reasoned that the accused had the moral responsibility to refuse orders to commit “crimes against humanity,” even assuming that it could be demonstrated that such orders were given.

Since I don’t treat war criminals, you might be asking yourself how the failure of some of these long-dead Nazis to take responsibility applies to treating people with less dramatic problems of depression or anxiety or relationship disappointment? In the course of talking with my patients, I often discover that they have suffered from some sort of misfortune; be it inadequate, negligent, or abusive parents; accident or injury; or unfair treatment at school, at work, or in love. Sometimes the stories are heartbreaking. It is perfectly proper for patients to blame at least part of their unhappiness on these events and these people. Moreover, it is often essential that they grieve those losses, give voice to their anger and sadness, and rail against the unfairness of life. And it is important for a therapist to help them as they process their grief.

But therapy cannot end there.

The patient, if he is to improve his life, cannot simply assign responsibility to some other person as a release from the need to take charge of what becomes of himself in the future, any more than a Nuremberg defendant might hope that assignment of responsibility to the commanding officer would take him off the hook for the unspeakable acts he committed.

Put more simply, neither the war crimes defendant nor the common therapy patient can point to someone else, say “He is the one who caused this,” and leave things at that. Just as the SS criminals were asked, “And then what did you do?” so must we all, regardless of what misfortune has happened to us, ask ourselves, “Now what? Do I simply accept the injustice, forever blame others, and stay defeated and aggrieved in-perpetuity, or do I grieve my loss, take responsibility for my life, and try to get beyond the injuries I’ve suffered?”

We all know people who, however small or large the disappointment that they have experienced, never get beyond criticizing, blaming, whining, and feeling sorry for themselves. While some of this is often necessary to get past the hurt, a lifetime of it is simply a waste, a personal failure to take control and to admit and accept that if life is to have meaning and value, we all have to do something positive with that life, regardless of bad breaks. Even if fairness demands that others compensate us for our losses, if such compensation cannot be obtained, life still calls us to repair ourselves. As a therapist colleague of mine, at the risk of sacrilege, used to tell those patients who seemed to forever bemoan their fate, “Get off the cross, we need the wood.”

Shakespeare commented on responsibility-taking in Julius Caesar when he gave Cassius the words:

“Men at some time are masters of their fates:

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,

But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

This is not always literally true. But there is no better way to live than to try to make our circumstances the best we can, however unlucky our lot. A good therapist will help you get there.

“To Save One Life Is As If You Have Saved The World:” Nicholas Winton And The “Kindertransport”

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It was an easy story to miss: the 100th birthday of someone you’ve never heard of. Not even someone from the USA. But to some people, the most important man in their lives. Indeed, the man without whom they would have no life.

Sir Nicholas Winton was born 100 years ago in England on September 4, 1909. In late 1938 he set out to create an organization designed to find a place for Jewish children in Czechoslovakia imperiled by the Nazis. Only a short time before, England passed a law allowing children to take refuge there within limits: they needed a sponsoring home in England and 50 pounds sterling as an advance toward a return trip back to Eastern Europe, at such time as political events would permit. In all, 669 children no older than 16 made the train trip, thanks to the efforts of Winton and others to find sponsors for these young people (in effect, adoptive parents), the money to support their travel, and the necessary 50 pounds for the hoped for return that was not to come.

One can only imagine the feelings of the parents and the children as the latter boarded the transport; parents promising their children, as many did, that they would all be reunited. Of course, death in the Holocaust would dash such expectations. The project ended when the Nazis invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, World War II broke out, and safe passage across the continent was no longer possible.

Typical of many rescuers, Winton made little fanfare of his altruism. Indeed, until 1988, when he was nearly 80, not even his wife knew what he had done. Only her accidental discovery of a scrapbook documenting his activities led to wider acknowledgment of Winton’s good works, including a Knighthood and a nomination for the Noble Peace Prize by the Czech government.

On September 1, 2009 several of the children Winton saved, now elderly themselves, took the original train used in the Kindertransport in a replication of the journey they had made 70 years before. And when they reached London, Sir Nicholas was there to greet them. Many brought along their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. In all, there are approximately 7000 descendants of the original group saved by this man. Children were among those most vulnerable to the Nazis, so it is safe to say that few if any of the 669, not to mention their descendants, would be alive but for the generosity and effort of Sir Nicholas.

The Jewish Talmud states that “to save one life is as if you have saved the world.”

Indeed.

The 1939 photo is of Nicholas Winton with a child he saved. The NY Times obituary can be found here: Nicholas Winton NY Times Obituary.