Children saved from Nazi camps unveil monument to parents
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Children saved from Nazi camps unveil monument to parents

Group saved by Sir Nicholas Winton opens 'Farewell Memorial' replica of 1939 train door in Prague, with hands of infants on one side and those of parents on the other

Sir Nicholas Winton with some of the rescued 'children.' (photo credit: Courtesy of Menemsha Films)
Sir Nicholas Winton with some of the rescued 'children.' (photo credit: Courtesy of Menemsha Films)

PRAGUE — A group of the children saved by Sir Nicholas Winton from Nazi death camps has, some 70 years later, unveiled a monument in Prague’s main train station to honor their parents.

The Briton arranged eight trains to carry 669 children, most of them Jewish, from Czechoslovakia through Germany to Britain at the outbreak of World War II in 1939. He died in 2015 at age 106.

The children were sent to foster parents. Back home, most of their parents died in the Holocaust.

The Farewell Memorial is a replica of a 1939 train door with the hands of children on one side and those of parents on the other.

Milena Grenfell-Baines, one of those saved, said Saturday the monument was a belated expression of thanks.

Sir Nicholas Winton waits to be decorated with the highest Czech Republic's decoration, The Order of the White Lion, in Prague, October 28, 2014. Winton died July 1, 2015, at the age of 106. (AP/Petr David Josek, File)
Sir Nicholas Winton waits to be decorated with the highest Czech Republic’s decoration, The Order of the White Lion, in Prague, October 28, 2014. Winton died July 1, 2015, at the age of 106. (AP/Petr David Josek, File)

Winton was a 29-year-old London stockbroker in December 1938 when a friend asked him to go to Prague to help in the refugee camps. He decided to do more after seeing that the children of those considered enemies of the Nazis, who had annexed part of western Czechoslovakia, were not being cared for.

When Winton returned home, he set to work by taking letterhead from the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia, then typing underneath the words “Children’s Section.”

A young Nicholas Winton with a rescued child. (Courtesy of Menemsha Films)
A young Nicholas Winton with a rescued child. (Courtesy of Menemsha Films)

He eventually wrung a promise from the British government to let the children enter the country, provided he had a foster home arranged for each one and upon payment of a guarantee of 50 pounds per child.

Winton drew up lists of some 6,000 at-risk children and encouraged British families to take them in. He arranged trains from Prague to the Netherlands, then ferries to take the children across the North Sea.

The children from Prague helped by Winton were among some 10,000 mostly Jewish children who made their way to Britain on what were known as Kindertransports (children’s transports) just before and during the first years of the war. Many never saw their parents again.

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