Sir Nicholas Winton By Oliver keuning

'Don’t be content in your life just to do no wrong, be prepared every day to try and do some good' Sir Nicholas Winton

Background Information

Nicholas Winton was born Nicholas George Wertheim on 19 May 1909 in Hampstead, London, England. His parents Rudolph and Barbara Wertheim, were German Jews who had moved to London two years before his birth. Their family name was Wertheim but they changed it to Winton, in an effort to integrate into their new country, as well as this they converted their religion to Christianity, and he was baptised.

In 1923 he entered the newly opened Stowe School , but left without any qualifications and then attended night school whilst also volunteering at the Midland Bank. He then went to Hamburg, where he worked at Behrens Bank, he followed this up by working at the Wasserman Bank in Berlin. Then in 1931 he started working at the Banque Nationale de Credit in Paris. Whilst he was in Paris he also earned a banking qualification.

After the outbreak of the Second World War, Winton applied successfully for registration as a conscientious objector and joined the Red Cross. In 1940, he then altered his beliefs and joined the Royal Air Force, Administrative and Special Duties Branch. He was an aircraftman, rising to sergeant by the time he was commissioned on 22 June 1944. He was then promoted to the rank of war substantive flying officer on 17 February 1945.

After the war, Winton worked for the International Refugee Organisation and then the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Paris. Where he then met Grete Gjelstrup, a Danish secretary. They married in her hometown of Vejle on 31 October 1948. The couple then settled in Maidenhead, England, where they brought up their three children; Nick, Barbara and Robin, who was born with Down Syndrome.

The family insisted that Robin stay with them rather than be sent to a special residential home. Robin's death from meningitis, affected Winton greatly and he founded a local support organisation Maidenhead MENCAP. Winton then found work in the finance departments of various companies.

Nicholas Winton died peacefully in his sleep in the morning of the 1st of July 2015 at Wexham Park Hospital in Slough from cardio-respiratory failure, he had been admitted to the hospital a week earlier following a deterioration in his health. He was 106 years old.

Pictured above, Nicholas Winton in the Air Force and on his wedding day with wife Grete.

What human rights was he Standing up for

Nicholas Winton was an English banker who before the start of World War II, organised the rescue of 669, mainly Jewish children from Czechoslovakia. Even though at the time of his actions the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights was not in place, the human rights that he was standing up for were: Article 25, which states that everybody has the right to an adequate living standard, he stood up for this human right because whilst in Czechoslovakia he found many camps of refugees living in terrible and horrific conditions. He also stood up for Article 13, which is the right to free movement in and out of a country, he stood up for this human right because war was almost inevitable and escape from Czechoslovakia especially for children was nearly impossible, due to the restrictions on Jewish immigration in the west at the time. He also stood up for Article 18 which states that everybody has freedom of belief and religion, he stood up for this human right because the Nazi Government was discriminating against the Jewish people becuase of their religion.

What actions did he take to protect these human rights

In the December of 1938, at the request of a friend, Nicholas Winton flew to Prague. This friend, Martin Blake, was aiding refugees in Sudetenland, a western region of Czechoslovakia, that had just been annexed by Germany. Winton saw thousands of mainly Jewish people suffering in inedaquate living conditions, who were also being violently assaulted because they were Jewish. He knew he had to act, after realising that the world was on the brink of war. He then found out that there was to be no mass-rescue effort in Czechoslovakia. So he created one. He started in his Prague hotel room, where he met hundreds of frightened parents, who wanted to get their children to safety. After a while he had registered over 900 children, but he had names and details of around 5000 more.

In early 1939 he left Prague and went back to London to find homes, raise money and arrange transportation for the children whose names he had previously listed. Hundreds of families in Britain volunteered to take in and provide financial assistance for the children. With this new source of funding and help from his personal bank account he soon covered all the expenses. He then appealed to the Home Office to get entry visas, but the response was slow and time was short, so he forged the entry permits himself.

Then on March 14, 1939 it all came together as the first 20 children left Prague by train. After the success of this first train, Winton and his associates arranged for 7 more trains to take the rest of the children to safety. The last train set off in early August 1939 and brought the total rescued to 669. On September the 1st Germany invaded Poland and closed down all of its borders, with the result that no more trains could get through.

Winton's actions as described above show that he performed many acts to protect human rights.

What outComes did it have for the people involVed in your heroes fight for human rights

Nicholas Winton's fight for human rights had absolutely incredible outcomes for the hundreds of children that he saved, as he gave them the greatest gift of all, the gift of life. He saved these children from nearly certain death and brought them to a country where they could have a future and thrive in society.

For Nicholas Winton himself he received many awards and honours for his acts with the most notable being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003, and also being awarded the highest honour of the Czech Republic, the Order of the White Lion (1st class), by Czech President Miloš Zeman in October 2014.

Nicholas Winton being awarded the highest honour of the Czech Republic, the Order of the White Lion, by Czech President Miloš Zeman.

Nicholas Winton with the Queen after being knighted in 2003.

Winton with former US president Bill Clinton.


A human rights violation in modern times is the over 11 million Syrian refugees that have fled their homes, and have no place to live or go. This is a breach of human rights because it breaks the UDHR, Article 14, the right to asylum in other countries and Article 25, the right to an adequate living standard. This refugee crisis was caused by the Syrian civil war.

Somebody that is trying to help is German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She opened Germany's borders to over 600,000 refugees and by doing this gave them a place to call home.

Angela Merkel is parallel in some ways to Nicholas Winton, by the fact that they both helped vast amounts of refugees find a place to live, when they had no where to go.

The territory marked in orange is the Sudetenland, which is the place where Nicholas Winton saved the 669 children from.

Above is a link to a clip from a BBC tv program called That's Life, that aired in 1988 that summarises Nicholas Winton's actions.



New York Times: d

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