Exhibit on Sir Nicholas Winton’s children kicks off in London and Prague

The exhibition in Prague, photo: CTK

Saturday saw the opening of an unusual exhibit held in both Prague and in London, honoring Sir Nicholas Winton, who organized the rescue of nearly 700 Jewish children by train from German-occupied Czechoslovakia to London in 1939. The exhibit, organized by director and photographer Jaroslav Brabec and Olga Menzelová, wife of the well-known Czech director Jiří Menzel, tells the stories of those who later came to be known Winton’s children. In attendance were some of them, as well as Sir Nicholas himself, who celebrated his 102nd birthday last week. Czech Radio correspondent Jan Jůn, who attended the event in London, describes the mood.

The exhibition in Prague, photo: CTK
The atmosphere at the opening was both celebratory and joyful. Celebratory especially because there were so many people, I think well over two hundred members of the London Czech community, plus various representatives of British cultural life, and diplomats and representatives of the mayor of London.

“On the other hand, there were several families; I think two there were two tens of the original Winton children and their extended families. And also, the point was that everybody focused on Sir Nicholas, and a huge cake in the shape of a train that was placed on a table in front of him and was later cut into some 200 portions.”

Nicholas Winton, Jiří Menzel, Olga Menzelová, photo: CTK
In terms of the actual exhibit, could you describe what was on display?

“The exhibition itself comprises some 30 double-sided panels, some historic pictures. It actually comprises both some pictures from the archives, including the British and German archives and pre-war pictures of the atmosphere within the Czech lands at that time and also in the Reich, the rise of Hitler and the Nazis, and at the same time, the plight of the Jewish community at that time, and also perhaps having similar significance, the plight of some of the Winton’s children, family photos and how their families and their fate evolved ever since coming to the UK and all that. And also several hundred color pictures from the celebratory Winton’s train event back in 2009.”

I believe that actually there was a parallel opening held in Prague. What do you think of the concept of having the event take place in London, and in Prague, the ending and the starting point, so to speak?

The exhibition in Prague, photo: CTK

“Well, I think that the whole idea of organizing an exhibition here in London and at the same time a directly linked event here in Prague, both connected by a telephone and maybe even a video bridge, appears to be quite brilliant. And I would say it’s slightly unusual, I hadn’t heard of an event of a similar kind that would be taking place in two European cities at the same time.”