March 17, 2017

Raoul Wallenberg Medal goes to filmmakers of Nicholas Winton documentary

On Tuesday 14 March the Swedish Embassy in Prague hosted a medal ceremony on behalf of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.  About eighty people attended the ceremony, including the Ambassadors of the United Kingdom and Israel and Archbishop Duka of Prague. The event was held to award two film producers. Matej Minac and Patrick Pass from Slovakia, for their film “Nicky’s family”, which tells the story of Sir Nicholas Winton’ rescue mission in 1939 of 669 children from Prague.  By making this film these two producers have kept alive the memory of Sir Nicholas Winton and in her opening address Ambassador Victoria Li emphasised the importance of rescuing people in danger.  She explained the background to Raoul Wallenberg’s Budapest mission and his remarkable success in saving tens of thousands of lives.  The Ambassador also paid her respects to the work of Sir Nicholas Winton and stressed that the matter of refugee children is as relevant today as it what in 1939. Describing the plight of the children of Syria, she wondered if there are any saviours like Raoul Wallenberg and Nicholas Winton out there for these children.

Jill Blonsky, in her speech, also emphasised the importance of the humanity shown by both men and the importance of keeping their work in the public eye. Describing her own interview with Sir Nicky, she also mentioned the great wit and humour for which Nicholas Winton was famous.  She concluded by awarding the medals to both film producers amid huge cheers from the audience.

It was then the turn of the producers to describe their meeting with Nicky Winton and again the audience learned more about his famous humour.  Mr Pass, speaking in Slovak, also spoke warmly of Sir Nicky. Mr Minac introduced a number of people from the audience, five of whom were members of those transports in 1939 and who were unanimous in their belief that Nicholas Winton had saved their lives.  Also introduced was the headmistress of the Sir Nicholas Winton School in Prague.  Mr Minac also announced that they were going to make another film about Nicholas Winton.

One very poignant moment was the playing of a piece of music written by a woman who perished in the Teresienstadt concentration camp to the north of Prague.  It was a beautiful and haunting piece which reminded the audience, despite the joyous occasion of the award ceremony, that there will always be the need for selfless rescuers like Raoul Wallenberg and Nicholas Winton.