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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 October 2007, 17:54 GMT 18:54 UK
'UK's Schindler' named for Nobel
Sir Nicholas Winton
Sir Nicholas Winton saved the lives of hundreds of Jewish children
A British man who saved hundreds of Jewish children from the Nazis has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Sir Nicholas Winton organised Czech Jewish children to be transported from Prague, shortly before World War II began, to foster families in Britain.

At least 669 Jewish children were saved from Nazi extermination camps.

The Czech Republic's Foreign Minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, said the 98-year-old's nomination had been sent to the Nobel selection committee.

Sir Nicholas was awarded the Cross of Merit of the 1st Class, the Czech Republic's highest military decoration, by Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova in a ceremony on Tuesday.

A petition by more than 32,000 Czech students has also been collected to support Sir Nicholas's Nobel nomination.

Prior to WWII breaking out, Sir Nicholas had to organise the provision of departure permits for all the children from the German occupation authorities, as well as permits to enter Britain.

I think the Nobel Peace Prize is something that is quite out of my category
Sir Nicholas Winton

In addition, he paid a deposit of 50 per child and found British families willing to look after the children.

The first train was dispatched from the Prague Main Station in May 1939, followed by five other transports which rescued more children.

The sixth transport of 251 youngsters, which should have left at the beginning of September, was hindered by the outbreak of the war in September 1939.

The rescued children now have about 5,000 descendants.

Sir Nicholas said: "I never thought that what I did 70 years ago was going to have such a big impact as apparently it has.

"I think the Nobel Peace Prize is something that is quite out of my category."

In 2002, then-Prime Minister Tony Blair praised him as "Britain's Schindler" after the German businessman Oskar Schindler, who also saved Jewish lives during WWII.

Sir Nicholas's story did not emerge until 1988 when his wife found correspondence referring to the mass rescues in an old briefcase in the attic, containing lists of the children and letters from their parents.

A film documenting his heroism, called "Nicholas Winton - The Power of Good", won an International Emmy Award in 2002.

And he was awarded another top Czech decoration, the Tomas Garrigue Masaryk Order, in 1998. Czech astronomers have also named an asteroid after him.

SEE ALSO
'British Schindler' remembers war
25 Jan 06 |  Berkshire
Heroes who defied the Holocaust
01 Feb 05 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Honour for 'British Schindler'
26 Sep 02 |  UK News

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