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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 11 March, 2003, 16:48 GMT
Queen knights 'British Schindler'
Sir Nicholas Winton
The 93-year-old smuggled 669 children out of Czechoslovakia
A man dubbed the British Oskar Schindler for rescuing hundreds of Jewish children from the Nazis has been knighted by the Queen.

She told Sir Nicholas Winton at Buckingham Palace: "It's wonderful that you were able to save so many children."

The 93-year-old, from Maidenhead, Berkshire, received his honour in a ceremony on Tuesday.

Sir Nicholas was just 29 when in 1939 he smuggled 669 boys and girls out of Czechoslovakia, who were destined for Nazi concentration camps.

He kept quiet about his deeds until 50 years later, when his wife, Grete, came across an old scrapbook detailing his exploits.

The former stockbroker began his mission before the outbreak of war, after being invited to help refugees in Czechoslovakia.

He saved most of the Czech Jewish children of my generation
Vera Gissing
Realising the danger the children were in, he worked to find British families willing to put up the then-huge sum of 50.

They also had to agree to look after the children until they were 17.

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

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

He was finally reunited with hundreds of the children, including Labour peer Lord Dubbs and film director Karel Reisz, in a gathering for 5,000 descendants of the "Winton children" last year.

Nicholas Winton with child
Sir Nicholas was just 29 at the time
Vera Gissing, who co-wrote a biography and film about him, said: "I owe him my life and those of my children and their children.

"He saved most of the Czech Jewish children of my generation."

Karel Reisz said when he found out: "I thought the Red Cross had organised it."

Lord Dubbs, just seven when he left Prague, said: "He is Britain's last living rescuer."

Also honoured at Tuesday's Buckingham Palace investiture was champion javelin thrower Steve Backley who collected an OBE.

The visit to the Palace was nothing new for Backley, 34, from Chislehurst, Kent, who received an MBE in 1995 after winning Commonwealth and European gold medals the previous summer.

Former editor of The Times Sir Peter Stothard was knighted for services to the newspaper industry.




SEE ALSO:
Honour for 'British Schindler'
26 Sep 02 |  UK News
Jersey's Oskar Schindler
17 Jun 00 |  UK News


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