October 27, 2014

‘British Oskar Schindler’ Sir Nicholas Winton to travel to Czech Republic to receive honour


The 105-year-old World War 2 hero, who saved 669 Czech Jewish children from the Nazi Holocaust, was initially thought too ill to travel

A man aged 105 known as “the British Oskar Schindler” is to receive the Czech Republic’s highest honour. Sir Nicholas Winton saved 669 Czech Jewish children from the Nazi Holocaust. He used his powers as a diplomat to organise their transport to the UK before the Second World War. Sir Nicholas will fly from London to Prague to receive the Order of The White Lion from Czech President Milos Zeman on October 28. His family initially told the Czechs he would not be able to take the honour personally because of his “poor health”. But the Czech president’s office says Sir Nicholas has personally confirmed he will travel to the capital Prague to receive it. Spokesman of the President’s office Jiri Ovcacek said: “Our protocol manager Jindrich Forejt has been in daily touch with Sir Nicholas. “The President hopes and believes that Sir Nicholas will come to Prague Castle on 28th October and will take the highest honour.”

Protocol manager Jindrich Fojt visited Sir Nicholas in his London residence in July on the occasion of his birthday. He brought him a congratulation card and a present from President Zeman. Shortly after the invitation was sent to Sir Nicholas, his family said he was too weak to travel for the 600-mile journey to Prague. But critics of President Zeman have said he should travel to London where the British war hero lives or to ask the president’s representatives to deliver the White Lion to Sir Nicholas. Before the start of WWII the diplomat used his visa powers to organise the transport of 669 Czechoslovakian Jewish children from Bohemia and Moravia to Great Britain where he found homes for them. The transportation of the children was known as Czech Kindertransport. His activities had not been known for many years until holocaust historian Elisabeth Maxwell revealed them. In 1998 Czech president Vaclav Havel gave him Order of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk. Sir Nicholas was awarded an MBE in 1983 for his work in establishing the Abbeyfield homes for the elderly in Britain. In 2002 he was knighted in recognition of his work on the Czech Kindertransport.