The latest Google Doodle in the UK and Canada celebrates the 111th birthday of Sir Nicholas Winton.
Sir Nicholas passed away aged 105 in July 2015, but is credited with saving the lives of over over 600 children from German-occupied Czechoslovakia in the lead-up to World War II by helping them escape the Nazi regime.
He set in motion a huge rescue effort to save primarily Jewish children from the threat of German occupation in present-day Czechia by transporting them to Britain. The dangerous operation required Winton and his collaborators to find homes for the children with British families, raise money, bribe officials, and even forge documents. In March 1939, the first train left Prague, and over the next few months, a total of 669 children were rescued to safety.
Sir Nicholas kept his heroics secret for nearly 50 years. The world knew nothing of what Winton had done — not even his wife. However, that all changed in 1988, when Mrs Winton discovered documents in their attic referencing the daring rescues of some 600 or so children during the World War II. She had been researching for the BBC television programme “That’s Life” — which Nicholas was set to feature in.
In 2003 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for “services to humanity, in saving Jewish children from Nazi Germany occupied Czechoslovakia”. To add to that title on 28 October 2014, he was awarded the highest honour of the Czech Republic, the Order of the White Lion (1st class).
Despite his endeavours to help the Jewish population in Nazi occupied Eastern Europe during World War II, he always protested that he only did what anyone would have done had they witnessed the conditions in those refugee camps in 1939. Sir Nicholas Winton continued to do charity work help others throughout his later years and believed it was the most satisfying and meaningful way for anyone to spend their time.