Sir Nicholas Winton
by Becky May
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To celebrate Sir Nicholas Winton rescuing 669 Jewish children before the Second World War and how we, too, can be secret heroes.
Preparation and materials
- You will need an image of Sir Nicholas Winton and the means to display it during the assembly.
- Have available the YouTube video, Sir Nicholas Winton: The man who saved 669 children from the Nazis, Channel 4 News, and the means to show it during the assembly (available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxkCeVtwHl8). It is 3.02 minutes long, but you may want to start it 30 seconds in from the beginning.
Display the image of Sir Nicholas Winton.
Today, I want you to take a look at this man. I wonder if you can guess how old he might be? I wonder if anyone can tell us who he is?
This man is 105 years old. You probably don’t know who he is.
When he was 29 years old, he did something very brave and very heroic, but he didn’t tell anybody about it afterwards. He didn’t show off or draw a lot of attention to himself. He has been on the television once or twice since, but he isn’t very famous, even though he did something incredible; something heroic. Because of his humility – which means not thinking of yourself as an important person – we don’t get to hear about his story very much. It is a story that I think we should remember, however, so I’m going to share it with you today.
This man is Sir Nicholas Winton. He was born in England in 1909. His mother and father had come from Germany a couple of years before and were Jewish, though they converted to Christianity and changed their name to enable them to integrate more easily into their new country.
When he was 29 years old, he saw that the Nazi regime, which was running Germany at the time, was treating Jewish people very badly. At this stage, Jewish people had been stopped from having certain jobs or having access to books to study. They were kept separately from the rest of the people in their community.
Sir Nicholas Winton saw that the Jewish people in Czechoslovakia, where the Nazis had invaded, were in even greater danger, so he did everything he could to help. He organized transport for 669 Jewish children to get them safely out of Czechoslovakia to England. He arranged new homes for them where they could live safely, get an education, be cared for and grow up away from the dangers of their home country.
This all took place just before the start of the Second World War, when Great Britain, along with other countries, fought against Germany to stop the Nazis from trying to take over other countries around Germany and treating Jewish people so badly.
Many, many Jews were taken to concentration camps and killed by the Nazis.
You could elaborate on this or not, as you feel is appropriate for the children attending the assembly.
Thanks to his bravery, 669 children were saved from this fate and given a brand new chance in England.
Often, when someone does something brave like this, we call them a hero and rightly so! What Sir Nicholas Winton did was incredible, very brave and very heroic, but something even more incredible happened. He rarely spoke of what he had done as he thought it unremarkable. He did not show off about it, he didn’t boast or tell other people that he was a hero, he just got on with his life, helping many other people, too, in many different ways.
It was years and years later that a family friend passed his scrapbook to a newspaper and the story was taken up by the That’s Life! TV programme. The scrapbook contained pictures, documents, letters and photos relating to the mission and a list of the names of all the children who had been rescued, a bit like a register. The programme managed to find quite a few of the children, then adults, of course, and gave them a chance to say thank you for rescuing them.
When Sir Nicholas Winton’s story finally came out, he was honoured with awards for his bravery and thanked for the way he had cared for these children. Even then, he did not show off about it – instead, he tried to play down what he had done, thanking the children instead!
Let’s watch this video about Sir Nicholas Winton and you will see what I mean.
Play the YouTube video Sir Nicholas Winton: The man who saved 669 children from the Nazis.
Time for reflection
Jesus talked about the way that some people show off when they are doing things for charity or giving money to the poor. He said that, instead, if we give money with our right hand, not even our left hand should know about it. It was a funny way to make sure that people understood what he meant, which is that, when we give to others, it should be done in absolute secrecy, just as Sir Nicholas Winton secretly rescued all the children.
It’s very unlikely that any of us will ever have the opportunity to rescue 669 children, but, every day, we can be secret heroes in tiny ways. Perhaps we could pick up some litter and put it in the bin or perhaps we could share what we have with people who need it more. Remember to not boast or show off, but keep your heroic deeds a secret.
Thank you for Sir Nicholas Winton, for the way that he rescued all of those children from danger and for his humble attitude, never showing off or trying to grab attention for himself. Help us to find ways this week to follow his example, to be secret heroes.
‘Make me a channel of your peace’, based on the prayer of Francis of Assisi (Come and Praise, 147)