A detective story: a school project to find Jewish children rescued from Prague in 1939
Many Radio Prague listeners will be familiar with the story of Sir Nicholas Winton, the British man in Prague who managed to save 669 Jewish children at the beginning of the Nazi occupation in 1939, by getting them visas to Britain. For nearly 50 years, Sir Nicholas - now 94 - told no-one about what he'd done, not even his own wife. When the story finally emerged, it was made into an award-winning film called "The Power of Good". A DVD of the film has just been released for schools, containing more than an hour of extra material which could help to track down four hundred of Sir Nicholas's "children" whose fate since their rescue has remained unknown. David Vaughan has been speaking to the film's director, Matej Minac, and also two of the people Nicholas Winton rescued - Eva Krusinova and Alice Klimova, about the project, which aims to involve Czech schoolchildren in the hunt.
Are there any clues as to where they might be?
Matej Minac: "You know, we have just shown at this press conference that it's very probable that many of them went to South America. So they must find a way to do it."
So what you are going to do is to encourage children to explore, use the internet and various other methods to look for some of these people.
Matej Minac: "It's a little bit of a bonus, because the principle aim is of course that they would learn about the story and they would get interested in the modern history of this region, but I know that for young people it's always good to put some challenge ahead of them, so they can do something incredible. So that's this challenge."
I'm also joined by two of the children who were rescued by Nicholas Winton, Eva Krusinova and Alice Klimova. Do you think that people know about the fates of families like your own - of Jewish families during the war - or do you think this is something that is not really grasped by young people today?
How important do you think it is for today's children to hear these stories again, to hear what happened?
Eva Krusinova: "I think it's a surprise for them, but I don't know that many of them will understand what it was like. You see, they haven't lived through all those years in Czechoslovakia, from '39 to '45, and afterwards from '45 later on. If the parents didn't find time to explain to them or to say something about it, I think it won't make any impression on them."
Alice Klimova: "Well it depends how it's presented to them. That's I think very important. And I wouldn't call it only a question of the Holocaust, but also - as is in the film - what can be done if somebody sets his mind to do some good, to be tolerant, to help each other. I think that's the most important message."