Sunday, 17 December 2017

Amazing legacy of ‘British Schindlere_SSRq

WE locals are fortunate in having a national celebrity living nearby.

WE locals are fortunate in having a national celebrity living nearby.

I am referring to Sir Nicholas Winton, who often features in the press or on television.

He is frequently dubbed “the British Schindler” for saving 669 Czech children weeks before the Second World War broke out.

He heard about their plight, cancelled the skiing holiday he had booked and went to Prague, rescuing them from the certain fate of the extermination camps.

But he did not save just 669 lives. Those children grew up safely in Britain, most became parents themselves, many then had grandchildren and some are even great grandparents.

If you add up the numbers of lives that have resulted, it amounts to around 4,800. That is an astonishing legacy.

No wonder he was presented with a ring which had an inscription from the Talmud, the book of rabbinic traditions, which declares: “He who save a person, saves a world”. Both the world of that particular person and the worlds that they then populate with their descendants.

It is worth thinking about how he achieved it: getting the Czech authorities to allow the children out, persuading the British government to let them in, cajoling parents to entrust their children to him, finding families in England who would house and look after each of the children. All this amid the panic of impending war.

He is very modest about it all and insists anyone could have done it, saying: “I was at the right place at the right time”. True, anyone could have done likewise but they did not.

He deliberately travelled to the right place and then acted in the right way.

It begs the question of what we could do to alleviate many of today’s challenges that we see around us... don’t do, but could.

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