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May 20, 2014 7:32 am

Czech Republic to Honor ‘British Schindler’ Who Saved 669 Jewish Children From Nazis

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Sir Nicholas Winton. Photo: Twitter.

A British philanthropist will receive the Czech Republic’s highest state decoration for rescuing 669 mostly Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II, a spokesperson for the country’s president said on Monday.

Sir Nicholas Winton will be honored with the Order of the White Lion at an award ceremony scheduled for the Czech national holiday on Oct. 28.

President Milos Zeman made the announcement on the same day as Winton’s 105th birthday, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“Mr. President today invited Mr. Winton to Prague where he would like to bestow the order to him for Mr. Winton’s act of heroism,” spokesperson Jiri Ovcacek said.

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Winton was dubbed the “British Schindler” by the U.K. press in reference to German entrepreneur Oskar Schindler. Schindler is remembered for saving more than 1,000 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories in Nazi-occupied Poland and Czechoslovakia.

In 1939, Winton organized train transports for Prague children, securing exit permits from the German authorities and British entry visas. Once the children arrived in the U.K. he found new homes for them, many of whom became the only Holocaust survivors of their families.

Eight trains traveled safely to the U.K. because of Winton’s efforts, according to the Journal. The last and ninth train carrying 250 children, scheduled to depart on Sept. 1, 1939, did not safely reach England because of the outbreak of the war.

Winton, the son of German-Jewish immigrants who moved to England in 1907, kept his rescue mission a secret until 1988 when his wife found an old notebook of his which contained details on the operation.

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