In 1988, Nicholas Winton’s wife discovered something in the attic of their home. It was a scrapbook filled to the brim with pictures, letters, names, notes and travel documents. The book held stories of compassion, bravery and, ultimately, survival.
As Grete Gjelstrup flipped through the pages, she was shocked at what she found.
When she asked for an explanation, he told her to just get rid of the memories of the haunting secret he had kept from her and the rest of the world for 50 years. But she insisted to know more about what really happened. Eventually, he gave in.
Winton was “Britain’s Schindler.” He was responsible for saving the lives of 669 Jewish children in Czechoslovakia who were most likely destined for the gas chamber during the Holocaust.
At the time, he was a 28-year-old stockbroker from London, someone most people would call just an ordinary guy. But he was anything but ordinary.
After his wife handed the scrapbook over to a Holocaust historian, Winton received worldwide acclaim for the liberation of those children. There are now streets and schools named after him, statues were erected across Europe, and he was even nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Those who were saved refer to themselves as “Winton’s children.” They later went on to build families of their own, and seven decades later, that number has now surpassed 6,000, according to The New York Times. This is a staggering number that will only continue to grow.
When asked by a reporter why he risked his life to save the lives of the innocent, he said:
One saw the problem there, that a lot of these children were in danger, and you had to get them to what was called a safe haven, and there was no organization to do that,” Winton said. “Why did I do it? Why do people do different things? Some people revel in taking risks, and some go through life taking no risks at all
Winton passed away on July 1st, 2015 at the age of 106.