Campus News

Xavier honors ‘Kindertransport’ hero

By: Jess Larkin ~Copy Editor~

In the months leading up to World War II, Nicholas Winton travelled to Prague to see what
had become of the many Czech refugees, many of whom were Jewish, who had been displaced by the German invasion. Many of the refugees were children whose parents would later be imprisoned and killed in Nazi concentration camps. Winton, realizing the fate of these children, spent the next few months organizing “Czeck Kindertransport,” an operation that would save 669 children. young_nicholas_winton_with_rescued_child

Xavier’s Center for Interfaith Community Engagement recently collaborated with the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education (CHHE) to honor the heroism of Sir Nicholas Winton, who is now 105 years old and recognized as the “British Schindler.” The event featured a viewing of “Nicky’s Family,” a documentary that tells the story of the great “Czech Kindertransport” and how it influenced generations of people that want to do something positive for the world.
Barbara Winton, Winton’s daughter, spoke about her father and the rescue. Her talk was followed by a speech from Dr. Renata Laxova, who was only seven when she was rescued by Winton. Winton’s “family” consists of those that were liberated and those influenced by the rescue, adding up to nearly 6,000 people.

Winton waited 50 years before admitting his deed. Prior to this historical concession, the children he rescued knew nothing about the man that saved them. In 2008, the Czech government nominated Winton for the Nobel Peace Prize. He also received other honors, including being appointed as a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

The Czech government and President Milos Zeman also awarded Winton with the highest honor, the Order of the White Lion.Nicky'sFamily_111014_0192

The night also recognized the 76th anniversary of Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass), a night when Jewish homes and establishments were destroyed at the hand of the Nazis and thou sands of Polish Jews were deported from their homes in Germany just one year before World War II.

“These two programs coincide well as they remind us of the importance of responding to injustice in the world as well as our capacity to make a difference in the lives of others through selfless acts of love,” Stephanie Renny, program assistant for the Center for Interfaith Community Engagement, said.

“Winton’s story inspires us not only because of his persistence towards good, but because of his enduring humility.”