Page last updated at 14:54 GMT, Friday, 4 September 2009 15:54 UK

WWII rescue train trip recreated


A vintage train carrying 170 of them was greeted at Liverpool Street by Sir Nicholas Winton, the man who organised the trains.

A train carrying evacuees who escaped the Holocaust has been met in the UK by the man who arranged their rescue ahead of the outbreak of World War II.

Sir Nicholas Winton, 100, was at London's Liverpool Street station to welcome passengers at the end of their steam train journey from Prague.

It marks the 70th anniversary of trains organised by Sir Nicholas that carried 669 mostly Jewish children to the UK.

Twenty-two of the original evacuees took part in the anniversary journey.

In a speech to several hundred people gathered at the station, Sir Nicholas told the former evacuees: "It's wonderful to see you all after 70 years. Don't leave it quite so long until we meet here again."

Sir Nicholas, from Maidenhead, Berkshire, described the scenes at the arrival of the series of eight trains that journeyed to Britain between March and August 1939.

My parents were shot and what they did with my sister I really don't want to know
Former evacuee Otto Deutsch

He said: "It was a question of getting a lot of little children together with the families that were going to look after them - and with 200 children and 200 people going to look after them all surrounding the station here, it was quite difficult to get them together and, of course, every child needed to be signed for.

"Anyway, it all worked out very well and it's wonderful that it did work out so well because, after all, history could have made it very different."

Evacuees' memories

Former evacuee Otto Deutsch, 81, originally from Vienna and now living in Southend, Essex, said: "It happened so many years ago yet I remember it so vividly.

"I never saw my parents again or my sister. My parents were shot and what they did with my sister I really don't want to know."

Alexandra Greensted, 77, from what was Czechoslovakia and now living in Maidstone, Kent, described it as a "very emotional day".

Former evacuee Thomas Bermann
The "Winton trains" carried children through Nazi Germany to Britain

"I can't remember much about the actual train journey," she said.

"All I can remember is being at the railway station crying my eyes out. I left my father and two older brothers behind."

Sir Nicholas, a 30-year-old stockbroker at the time, had been inspired to organise the trains after visiting camps for refugees from the Nazi-occupied Sudetenland during a trip to Czechoslovakia in 1938.

A ninth train, with 250 children on board, was due to depart on 1 September 1939 - the day Germany invaded Poland - but was detained by German troops.

The children and their families were later transported to concentration camps.

Britain and France declared war against Germany on 3 September.

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