As a result of the Munich Agreement of September 1938, Czechoslovakia ended up losing 30% of its territory, a third of its population and the greater part of its industry and raw materials. Few people had much faith in the country’s long-term survival as a democracy amid dictatorships. It was, as Jan Masaryk put it, an “experiment in vivisection”. The radio archives give a vivid picture of the consequences of that experiment, which was to last less than six months and end in occupation and eventually war.
Though little-known today, Marie Schmolka was for several years one of Prague’s key organisers helping Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis, while she also helped arrange transports of children to the UK that saved hundreds of lives. On Monday Schmolka is receiving, in memoriam, honorary citizenship of Prague 1, as officials finally honour the heroic work she carried out in her native city.
A plaque to the previously little-known Doreen Warriner has just been unveiled in Prague. The Englishwoman saved the lives of hundreds of people by helping them escape to the UK just before WWII. Czech and British officials – as well as people rescued by a number of courageous souls like Warriner 80 years ago – were in attendance at Monday’s ceremony.
Kurt Taussig is one of the 669 Czech Jewish children who were saved from the Holocaust by Sir Nicholas Winton on the eve of the Second World War. The 95-year-old man, who went on to join the RAF as a fighter pilot, has since lived in Great Britain and, until recently, was unknown to Czech historians. Now, more than 75 years after he left his country, he was granted honorary citizenship in his birth-town of Teplice.
The late Sir Nicholas Winton saved the lives of 669 children, most of them Jewish, when he organised for them to leave Czechoslovakia for his native UK on the eve of WWII. His daughter Barbara Winton has told his remarkable story in the book If It's Not Impossible...: The Life of Sir Nicholas Winton and in July discussed what drove him and much more at the Melting Pot forum at Colours of Ostrava music festival, which is where I caught up with her.
A new Czech Television documentary, Barbican: Forgotten Mission, tells the previously unknown story of how around 100 Jewish children were air-bridged to the UK from Prague in early 1939. The organisers were a Christian group focused on converting Jews and their actions predated the well-known kindertransports run by Sir Nicholas Winton, though he was involved. The film’s director Jiří František Potužník says the story began with an archive photo of a small boy and a pilot.
Today a life peer in Britain’s House of Lords, Alfred Dubs was just six years old when he became one of over 660 Jewish children saved from Nazi-occupied Prague by Sir Nicholas Winton. The Labour politician last year made headlines for attaching an amendment to an immigration bill that offered unaccompanied refugee children safe passage to Britain, though the UK authorities later largely abandoned the scheme. When we spoke recently in London, I asked Lord Dubs – now 85 – about his own beginnings in the UK and attitudes to refugees today. But we
A new waiting room named after the late Sir Nicholas Winton has been opened at Prague’s Main Train Station. Four of the so-called Winton Children attended Tuesday’s opening ceremony. The then diplomat saved 669 Czech Jewish children from the Holocaust by getting them permits to travel to the UK on a number of trains that left from the same station.
Some of the children who were saved from the Holocaust by Nicolas Winton have unveiled a memorial recognizing their parent’s incredible bravery in putting them on “kindertransport’ trains to London in the knowledge they might never see them again. Close to 700 mostly Jewish children were sent away at the eleventh hour in the spring and summer of 1939, after Nazi Germany invaded Czechoslovakia. Most of their parents later died in gas chambers. The memorial, at Prague’s main railway station from where the trains were dispatched, is a replica of one of the original train wagon doors filled with a glass pane on which are engraved adult and child hands evoking scenes of the traumatic parting. Zuzana Maresova, one of the surviving Winton children who came up with the idea of erecting the memorial, says the scene at the railway station is one of her most vivid childhood memories.