We often read stories of Anne Frank's being hidden in her neighbor's home to escape Nazi persecution, or we watch movies about Oskar Schindler and how he saved over 1000 Jews by setting up a factory filled with Jewish labor during WWII. What we do not often hear are stories about the quiet ones who saved so many during the German Holocaust, and during other horrible events in our world's history.
Nicholas Winton is one of those quiet ones who made a significant different, saving the lives of over 600 children from Czechoslovakia as the Nazi death makers moved into the region, killing thousands of Jews and others as they expanded their influence over war-torn Europe. Setting up a very efficient organization of forgery, he relieved the fears of many parents who brought in their children, in the hopes of saving them from the inevitable.
What makes Winton's story even more remarkable is the fact that he did not share his story, or his incredible accomplishment, for over 50 years. It was only through an old picture that British Broadcasting uncovered the unbelievable story. They arranged a gathering of children he had saved, surrounding him and surprising him with thanks. When asked why he had kept the whole thing a secret, he responded that he didn't keep it a secret; he just didn't tell anyone!
And it doesn't stop there: This 104 year old man is still working to provide housing for the mentally ill and for the elderly. He even suggests that we should not dwell on the stories of the past, instead working to make things better in the present.
When our students ask why they should learn history - so that we don't make the same mistakes as those who came before us.
Who can make a difference in this world? - we all can make a difference if we have the knowledge, skills, and ingenuity to take on the challenges before us, no matter how daunting they may be.
Want to teach your students these very valuable lessons?
Use this CBS 60 Minutes Video Interview and my FREE Who Am I? Reflective Response Activity.
And if you want to teach a full unit on this historic event, check out the Holocaust category in My TpT Store!