Czech students to help find Jewish children saved from Nazis


Sir Nicholas Winton has come to be known as Britain's Oskar Schindler. In the weeks after the Nazis occupied the Czech Lands in March 1939, he quietly arranged for the safe passage of more than 650 Jewish children to Britain. Today children learn about his story, and, as Kate Barrette now reports, are even adding a chapter of their own.

More than 150,000 schoolchildren in the Czech Republic will see Matej Minac's award winning documentary film, "Nicholas Winton - The Power of Good."

The film tells the story of Winton, a 30-year-old English stockbroker in Prague in early 1939, who saw that a bad situation was about to get much worse.

He decided to act - and quietly arranged for eight trains to carry 669 Jewish children out of Prague to London, saving their lives.

Winton, now over 90, never shared this story with anyone. Not even his wife - who learned about it only after she came across a scrapbook in their attic which documented the rescue mission, fifty years after it took place.

Since that time, the makers of the film have managed to trace over 200 of those children, now in their 60s and 70s.

But the whereabouts of 400 of them remains unknown. Director Matej Minac had an idea about how to find them:

"We decided we should do something in this matter, so we prepared an educational programme. We thought that students love things where there is suspense, where there is a detective story and so on... so we prepared it that so they can do such a challenging task of looking for more than 400 Winton's children. These are people who don't know that they were rescued by Winton, and who mostly live, we suppose, in South America."

Nicholas Winton
Minac says the schoolchildren can turn to refugee organizations, as well as Jewish, Czech and Slovak organizations to try and trace the survivors' whereabouts. They will also publish letters and announcements, in their search for adults who don't know the details of their own personal histories.

"And then we have the list of these Winton's children - these 669 children-, and these students would be able to identify whether a person was really saved by Winton, whether he or she went by Winton's train... and that's quite interesting because if this is the case, it means that these adults will learn their own story which they don't know. They don't know how they were rescued, that they were rescued by Winton, what was the mechanism of this whole rescue operation. And further they can meet Winton. So this can be very touching."

And what do children here think about all of this? Twelve-year old Jana Antonsonova is from Prague. She recently won a competition for a composition she wrote about Winton's story. She reflects the enthusiasm and interest of her peers in the story.

"I think it's very interesting. When I heard about it for the first time I was captivated by it. I would like to learn something more about it. So I hope I will have some occasion sometime. I think it's very admirable that the person managed to save so many lives just because he was smart. It's simply admirable.

You can find out more about this international project and even get involved by going to