Nicholas Winton, 'Britain's Schindler,' Is Remembered By Those He Saved From The Nazis : Parallels Nicholas Winton arranged safe passage from Czechoslovakia for more than 600 Jewish children on the eve of World War II. Winton died last year at 106. A memorial is being held Thursday in London.
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'Britain's Schindler' Is Remembered By Those He Saved From The Nazis

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'Britain's Schindler' Is Remembered By Those He Saved From The Nazis

'Britain's Schindler' Is Remembered By Those He Saved From The Nazis

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

But now we turn to London. A memorial is being held there for a man known as Britain's Schindler. Nicholas Winton saved 669 mostly Jewish children from Czechoslovakia before World War II. He died last year. NPR's Lauren Frayer met one of those he saved.

JOHN FIELDSEND: I'm John Fieldsend. I was born Hans Heini Feige in Czechoslovakia. My mother was from Czechoslovakia. My father from Dresden in Germany.

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: A lifetime ago, John Fieldsend lived with his Jewish parents in his father's hometown.

FIELDSEND: When things got too dangerous in Dresden for a Jewish family, we escaped to my mother's parents' home in Czechoslovakia. I remember the German army marching through our village.

FRAYER: His parents decided to send their two sons, aged 7 and 10 on the Kindertransport. Those were trains caring children, most of them Jewish, to safety in England.

FIELDSEND: Our father had said, sit down, boys. You're going on a long journey. We can't come with you. As the train's leaving, my mother took her wristwatch off and gave it to me through the window of the train and simply said, this is for you to remember us. So they probably knew more than we did.

FRAYER: After the war, he received a package from the Red Cross with family photos and then a letter.

FIELDSEND: My mother wrote (reading) dear boys, when you receive this letter, the war will be over. We want to say farewell to you, who are our dearest possession in the world. Don't forget us, and be good.

And a couple weeks after writing this, they went to the gas chambers to Auschwitz. What a letter.

FRAYER: It would take 50 years for Fieldsend to find out exactly who had arranged his passage to England. In 1988, a BBC TV show called "That's Life" got hold of a scrapbook found in the attic of a retired stockbroker named Nicholas Winton. In it were records of hundreds of children for whom Winton had paid train fares, forged travel documents and arranged foster families. He never talked about it publicly. A photo of Fieldsend as a boy appeared briefly on TV.

FIELDSEND: A friend rang me and said, John, were you watching "That's Life?" He said, well, John, you were on it.

FRAYER: Fieldsend phoned the BBC. He was invited to the studio for the next episode. Winton was there, too. What Winton didn't know was that the entire studio audience were people he had saved.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THAT'S LIFE")

ESTHER RANTZEN: Can I ask, is there anyone in our audience tonight who owes their life to Nicholas Winton? If so, could you stand up please?

FRAYER: The whole studio audience stands up.

FIELDSEND: It was absolutely amazing. He was such a human ordinary, quiet man.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THAT'S LIFE")

RANTZEN: You'll have the chance to meet these people properly after the program. In the meantime, Mr. Winton, on behalf of all of them, thank you very much indeed.

(APPLAUSE)

FRAYER: Fifty years after Winton saved him, the two men began a belated friendship over pub lunches and family visits.

FIELDSEND: He could have been imprisoned. He could have been shot. He had no reason to be involved. He was just a good British stockbroker.

FRAYER: Today, John Fieldsend and other survivors are attending a memorial for that good British stockbroker who died last year aged 106. Lauren Frayer, NPR News, London.

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