Th e S to r y o f N i c h o l a s Wi n to n a n d Th e I m p o r t a n ce o f C h a ra c te r
he knew, the children might have returned to their homeland (as indeed, some did). “Wherever they were, I had good reason to assume they were safe and cared for,” he said. Indeed, among their ranks in later life would be doctors, nurses, therapists, teachers, musicians, artists, writers, pilots, minis- ters, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and even a Member of the British Parliament. Today they and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchil- dren number about 5,000.
Recent interviews with many of the adult “Win- ton Children” reveal not only a deep appreciation for the man whose initiative saved them, but also for living life to its fullest. Many express a lifelong desire to help others as a way of honoring the loved ones who made the painful choice to trust the young stockbroker from Britain. “We understand how precious life is,” Vera told us. “We wanted to give something back to our natural parents so their memory would live on.”
Years after coming to Britain, Vera asked her fos- ter father, “Why did you choose me?” His reply sums up the spirit of the good people who gave homes to the 669: “I knew I could not save the world and I knew I could not stop war from coming, but I knew I could save one human soul.”
So humble is Nicky Winton that others have to tell him, over his own objections, just what an uncom- mon man he is. Like the other “Winton Children” who have come to know him now, Vera reminds him frequently that she owes her very life to him.
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In our effort to add to the chorus of friends and admirers who want Nicky Winton to understand just how we feel about him, we told him this: “You did not save only 669 children. Your story will el- evate the moral eloquence of lending a loving hand when lives are at stake. Some day, somewhere, per- haps another man or woman will confront a similar situation and will rise to the occasion because of your example. is is why the world must know what you did and why we think of you as a hero even if you do not.”
In 1988, a television show seen across Britain, “at’s Life,” told the Winton story to a large audi- ence and brought Nicky together with many of his “children” for the first time since those horrific, fate- ful days of 1939. He is in regular correspondence with, and often visited by, many of them — a source of joy and comfort since his wife Grete passed away in 1999. Vera, who lives just a few miles from Nicky, sees him regularly. She has co-authored a book which tells the full story, “Nicholas Winton and the Res- cued Generation: Save One Life, Save the World.”
Governments have honored Nicky with awards and the recognition he never sought. In 1999 he was granted the Honorary Freedom of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead for a lifetime dedicated to humanitarian activities. is award makes Nicky a member of a small elite group, which includes Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles. e Queen has conferred a knighthood upon him. President George W. Bush