There are not many people that have heard that of Sir Nicholas Winton which is what he would have wanted. Yet this man saved 664 lives directly and 15000 indirectly and never told a soul: not even his wife or the people he saved. A successful stockbroker he took 2 weeks off in 1938 to organise the safe transport of 664 Czech Jewish children. The United States would not have them and the UK if they had homes, which by devious means he organised.
He has been called the British Schindler. I once attended a talk by Thomas Kennealy on his book Schindler’s List. He was asked where on the moral compass he would place Schindler and replied “In times like those you needed an operator not a saint”. Winton was much the same, forging the odd document if it meant saving life. Only a chance discovery of his scrapbook in the attic by his wife revealed the extraordinary saving of so many young lives. On a That’s Life programme, unknown to him, he sat in an audience of those he saved.
You might have thought he had done enough but no he worked on the Abbeyfoeld Project to build old people’s homes. In an interview he was asked why he was so secretive. With a cheeky smile he replied:
“I was not secretive. I just never spoke of it”
My father used to say a nice Englishman is the finest person you would ever meet. In a world of celebrity, self promotion and immodesty, Sir Nicky Winton still going strong at 104 endorses that view. Here is a clip of the programme. I would be surprised if you can watch it with a dry eye: