May 26, 2014

Holocaust hero is a role model for us all



It is with great delight that we read your report on Sir Nicholas Winton’s 105th birthday. Both of us had the privilege to meet him in June 2013, at the residence of the Swedish ambassador in London. On behalf of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, we presented the Wallenberg Centennial Medal to former prime minister Gordon Brown for his services to educating young people about the Holocaust and its rescuers.

One of our most distinguished invitees was Sir Nicholas Winton. Before the ceremony, we sat and talked with him for an hour in the residence library. His wit and alertness, coupled with an exquisite sense of humour, left us speechless. One of us said to him “Sir Nicholas, you saved the lives of more than 600 children!”, to which he retorted with a mischievous smile: “669 to be precise.” When we asked him how he went about his audacious plan to save the children, he just downplayed his feat, saying that “he had the opportunity to help”. Sir Nicholas preferred to focus on the current situation and how to make things better. “We live in a topsy-turvy world … I’m very worried about the future … we haven’t learned the lessons from the past,” he said.

We met a man larger than life. A man we admire and to whom we owe our eternal gratitude. Last week, the board of the Wallenberg Foundation decided to launch an international literary contest aimed at high-schools students who would write essays about Sir Nicholas’s legacy. Sir Nicky is such a natural role-model and we want to convey his story to younger generations. We wish this remarkable man many more years of good health and good deeds.
Eduardo Eurnekian Chairman
Baruch Tenembaum Founder
International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, New York