In 2005 AFoCR established the Nicholas Winton Educational Project. The project’s two goals were to introduce to the United States from the Czech Republic the highly successful Winton Educational Program and to inform Americans about the actions and achievements of Nicholas Winton in Prague during the years 1938-39.
As a 29-year-old British private citizen, Winton organized the rescue of 669 mostly Jewish Czech children immediately before the outbreak of World War II. On a visit to Prague in late 1938, Winton saw firsthand the plight of refugees, predominantly Jews from Germany and the Sudetenland, and organized the “Czech Kindertransport.” Back in London, he raised funds, recruited foster parents, and obtained entry permits for the children. From March through August 1939, he arranged for eight trains to carry the children. A ninth train with 250 more children, scheduled to leave on September 3, 1939, was blocked when Britain, that day, entered the war.
A documentary about Winton, “The Power of Good,” directed by Matej Mináč, won an Emmy Award in 2002. Mináč also made a feature film about Winton called “All My Loved Ones” in 1998. One rescued child was a cousin of former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Since the creation of the Nicholas Winton Educational Project, many goals have been accomplished. The first achievement was the translation into English by AFoCR of the Czech study book “Nicholas Winton’s Lottery of Life.” The book focuses on WWII, the Holocaust, and Winton’s heroic efforts in saving the lives of the 669 Jewish children. The book also focuses on the 20th century history of the Czech Republic and Europe. The next goal was to raise funds to print sufficient copies of the book, so that it could be distributed to educational institutions throughout the United States, free of charge, except for shipping. These funds were raised through the generous efforts of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as concerned Americans, and 17,000 copies have been printed.
AFoCR’s activities in the U.S. on the part of Winton led to a special letter to him from President Bush in July, 2006 and the passage of H.R. 583 by the U.S. House of Representatives in his honor. AFoCR Vice President Peter Rafaeli translated from Czech the book by Matej Mináč, “Nicholas Winton’s Lottery of Life,” and AFoCR is publishing it and distributing 17,000 copies free of charge to educational institutions nationwide.
AFoCR co-sponsored a memorable and highly emotional visit by Sir Nicholas Winton to Prague, which took place from October 6 to 12, 2007. Winton’s achievements had gone unrecognized until 1988 when his wife found lists of the children in an attic. Winton’s visit to Prague, accompanied by his daughter and son, came at the invitation of Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. He was also invited by former President Václav Havel to attend Forum 2000 as the sole guest of honor. In addition, he was received by Czech President Václav Klaus and Prague’s Lord Mayor Pavel Bém and was decorated by the Czech Minister of Defense Vlasta Parkanová.