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Thursday, 26 September, 2002, 10:15 GMT 11:15 UK
Honour for 'British Schindler'
Nicholas Winton with one of the children in rescued
The children Mr Winton rescued were brought to London
The heroic actions of a Briton who rescued hundreds of Jewish children during the Second World War have been recognised and given high praise by the prime minister.

Nicholas Winton was just 29 when in 1939 he smuggled 669 boys and girls out of Czechoslovakia, who were destined for Nazi concentration camps.
Nicholas Winton
Mr Winton's heroism was discovered by his wife

His actions - which mirrored those of the world famous "saviour" of Jewish prisoners Oskar Schindler - have now been made into a documentary.

Tony Blair's framed letter to the man dubbed "Britain's Schindler" was presented at a special screening of a film documenting Mr Winton's heroism.

Secret exodus

Europe Minister Peter Hain, who made the presentation, said: "Nicholas Winton has touched the lives of many.

"All of the children he saved survived the war but few of their parents did.

"The legacy of his act extends across the globe."

Mr Winton, a stockbroker devised and organised a successful plan to transport the young children from the Czech capital Prague to safe homes in Britain, at the outbreak of war.


This film is long overdue recognition of your extraordinary human achievement

Tony Blair

Instead of arriving leaving their Nazi-occupied homeland for imprisonment in a concentration camp, the youngsters ended up at Liverpool Street Station in London.

But 50 years were to go by before the secret exodus was discovered.

In his letter, Mr Blair wrote: "This film is long overdue recognition of your extraordinary human achievement in saving Czechoslovakian children from death.

"The people you saved, and their children, many thousands together, are a living and heart-warming testimony to your courage," he said.

Scrapbook

Mr Winton, who is now 93, collected the framed letter from Mr Hain, after hearing it read out to the packed auditorium at the Barbican Screen.

Mr Winton's deeds came to light when his wife, Grete, came across an old scrapbook detailing the evacuations.

She persuaded her husband - who was by then nearly 80 - to tell his story in an official documentary.

Mr Winton met, for the first time, some of the children he rescued - many of who are now over 70.

Oskar Schindler
Oskar Schindler's rescue was portrayed in the film Schindler's List

The film, which is Slovakian-made is entitled Nicholas J Winton - Power of Good and was being shown as part of the New Europe Film Season.

The season is a Foreign Office initiative to highlight those countries that are new candidates for EU membership.

Mr Hain told the audience there were over 5,000 descendants of the Winton-rescued children around the world, including in the UK, Czech Republic and the US.

See also:

06 Oct 01 | Europe
16 Jul 01 | Europe
17 Jun 00 | UK
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