Story from ceskenoviny.cz, January 21, 2011:
Prague – British Sir Nicholas Winton, 101, who saved hundreds of Czechoslovak Jewish children before World War Two, met Czech Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra, during his visit to Prague today.
Winton arrived in Prague to attend the premiere of the new documentary film on his rescue action, Nicky’s Family, directed by Slovak Matej Minac, on Thursday.
The Defence Ministry has cooperated with the film-makers.
Winton saved a total of 669 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia who were transported to Britain before the war broke out. He had to secure departure permits for all children from Germans, entry permits from the British authorities and admission to British families. These children would otherwise have ended up in concentration camps, having a small chance of surviving.
The saved children have some 5000 ascendants.
“In six months in office I never before had a chance of welcoming such a huge family,” Vondra said in his speech to Winton and some of the children he saved.
Among them was a cousin of the former U.S. secretary of state, Czech-born Madeleine Albright.
“All of a sudden I have realised how everything in the world is interconnected and how awful it is when a regime committing the worst evil comes to power,” Vondra told CTK.
Vondra also hosted lunch for Winton and “his family” in the Senate´s cafeteria today.
Minac consulted the Defence Ministry´s employees when he was working on the documentary Nicky´s Family.
“We gave some unique historic film shots to the film-makers,” Ales Knizek, director of the Military History Institute, recalled, adding that the institutes´s historians also contributed to the film.
The film was premiered in Prague´s Congress Centre on Thursday.
The audience gave Winton standing ovations when he entered the hall.
Czech Senate first deputy head Premysl Sobotka proposed Winton for the Nobel Peace Prize on this occasion. The proposal was supported by a petition signed by 100,000 people.
Winton was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002.
In 1998, he received a high Czech state decoration, the Order of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, from then Czech president Vaclav Havel.