|A Most Important History Lesson for Humanity|
Welcome to the Sunday Education Weekly Reader for 07.08.12.
The following video will illustrate the type of individual to whom Nobel Peace Prizes should be awarded. The incredibly courageous and compassionate acts of Sir Nicholas Winton were not recognized when they occurred. Five decades later, we are fortunate to have a visual record on the impact of his actions.
Since textbooks will soon be a thing of the past and computers will be used to impart information, this clip should be part of any historical curriculum. If history common core standards overlook this hero, then states should use their "allowed 15%"in the Common Core guidelines to remember this remarkable man who stood up to hate and totalitarianism and saved children from death.
From The Power of Good:
In December 1938, Nicholas Winton, a 29-year-old London stockbroker, was about to leave for a skiing holiday in Switzerland, when he received a phone call from his friend Martin Blake asking him to cancel his holiday and immediately come to Prague: "I have a most interesting assignment and I need your help. Don't bother bringing your skis." When Winton arrived, he was asked to help in the camps, in which thousands of refugees were living in appalling conditions.
In October 1938, after the ill-fated Munich Agreement between Germany and the Western European powers, the Nazis annexed a large part of western Czechoslovakia, the Sudetenland. Winton was convinced that the German occupation of the rest of the country would soon follow. To him and many others, the outbreak of war seemed inevitable. The news of Kristallnacht, the bloody pogrom (violent attack) against German and Austrian Jews on the nights of November 9 and 10, 1938, had reached Prague. Winton decided to take steps.
"I found out that the children of refugees and other groups of people who were enemies of Hitler weren't being looked after. I decided to try to get permits to Britain for them. I found out that the conditions which were laid down for bringing in a child were chiefly that you had a family that was willing and able to look after the child, and £50, which was quite a large sum of money in those days, that was to be deposited at the Home Office. The situation was heartbreaking. Many of the refugees hadn't the price of a meal. Some of the mothers tried desperately to get money to buy food for themselves and their children. The parents desperately wanted at least to get their children to safety when they couldn't manage to get visas for the whole family. I began to realize what suffering there is when armies start to march."
In terms of his mission, Winton was not thinking in small numbers, but of thousands of children. He was ready to start a mass evacuation.
....After the war, Nicholas Winton didn't tell anyone, not even his wife Grete about his wartime rescue efforts. In 1988, a half century later, Grete found a scrapbook from 1939 in their attic, with all the children's photos, a complete list of names, a few letters from parents of the children to Winton and other documents. She finally learned the whole story. Today the scrapbooks and other papers are held at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, in Israel.
Grete shared the story with Dr. Elisabeth Maxwell, a Holocaust historian and the wife of newspaper magnate Robert Maxwell. Robert Maxwell arranged for his newspaper to publish articles on Winton's amazing deeds. Winton's extraordinary story led to his appearance on Esther Rantzen's BBC television program, That's Life. In the studio, emotions ran high as Winton's "children" introduced themselves and expressed their gratitude to him for saving their lives. Because the program was aired nationwide, many of the rescued children also wrote to him and thanked him. Letters came from all over the world, and new faces still appear at his door, introducing themselves by names that match the documents from 1939.
The rescued children, many now grandparents, still refer to themselves as "Winton's children." Among those saved are the British film director Karel Reisz (The French Lieutenant's Woman, Isadora, and Sweet Dreams), Canadian journalist and news correspondent for CBC, Joe Schlesinger (originally from Slovakia), Lord Alfred Dubs (a former Minister in the Blair Cabinet), Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines (a patron of the arts whose father, Rudolf Fleischmann, saved Thomas Mann from the Nazis), Dagmar Símová (a cousin of the former U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright), Tom Schrecker, (a Reader's Digest manager), Hugo Marom (a famous aviation consultant, and one of the founders of the Israeli Air Force), and Vera Gissing (author of Pearls of Childhood) and coauthor of Nicholas Winton and the Rescued Generation.
Today, Sir Nicholas Winton, age 97 (in 2006), resides at his home in Maidenhead, Great Britain. He still wears a ring given to him by some of the children he saved. It is inscribed with a line from the Talmud, the book of Jewish law. It reads:
"Save one life, save the world."
From the Power of Good website:
Czech filmmaker Matej Mináč made a documentary film of Winton's life "Nicholas Winton – The Power of Good" which won the International Emmy Award in 2002. The Gelman Educational Foundation has licensed a DVD of this film for use in educational settings. The DVD and an accompanying Study Guide are available from the foundation. (The Study Guide is also included as a PDF file on the DVD.) To request a copy of the DVD send us the following information: The date(s) on which the screening(s) will take place; who the audience will be; the number of people you are expecting at each screening; and whether or not the audience will be paying. Send the information by email to the Gelman Educational Foundation by clicking here.
Here is a video from www.internationalschoolhistory.net explaining in more detail his effort to save children. It is amazing to see and hear the feelings of British high school history students as they learn about WWII and Sir Winton's actions: