In 1939, Nicholas Winton saved 669 children from the Nazis by transporting them to Great Britain from Prague, in Czechoslovakia. He kept his rescue effort secret for nearly 50 years.
Today, Mr. Winton’s story is the subject of a documentary, “Nicholas Winton: The Power of Good,” being made available to teachers. The Gelman Educational Foundation, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based organization that promotes community health and social awareness, is distributing the film on DVD with a study guide. The foundation is suggesting but not requiring a $15 donation.
The film’s educational message is that “one small deed can produce thousands of good deeds,” said Andrew D. Pass, an education consultant to the Gelman Foundation.
Learn more about the documentary.
“What makes his deed so great is that some of the 669 children lived incredible lives, helping refugees in Africa” and performing other humanitarian work, Mr. Pass said. Today, more than 5,000 people, including the descendants of those rescued, owe their lives to Mr. Winton, the foundation says.
As of late last year, some 2,400 copies of the documentary, which is largely intended for students in middle and high school, had been sent to teachers, Mr. Pass said.
The foundation’s goal is for 1 million children to see the film in the next three years.
Nicholas Winton was a 29-year-old London stockbroker when he visited refugee camps in Prague. Moved by the conditions he saw, he organized eight transports of children to London, where British sponsor families awaited them.
A last group of 250 children was to depart Prague on Sept. 1, 1939, but on that date, Germany invaded Poland, and all German-controlled borders were closed. None of the children who were to have been aboard the train was heard from again, according to the foundation.
Mr. Winton never told anyone about his efforts. It wasn’t until his wife found documents in their attic in 1988 that even she knew, and the story came out. In 2002, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. He is now 97 and lives in Maidenhead, England.
A version of this article appeared in the January 17, 2007 edition of Education Week