OPINION: Time to follow my dad’s example
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here
Analysis

OPINION: Time to follow my dad’s example

Barbara Winton, daughter of the late Sir Nicholas Winton who organised the Kindertransport, draws parallels between the plight of Afghan refugees and those fleeing the Nazis

Barbara Winton
Barbara Winton, the daughter of Sir Nicholas Winton, - compared the “dehumanising language” of the Nazis to that seen in 2018 (Photo credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)
Barbara Winton, the daughter of Sir Nicholas Winton, - compared the “dehumanising language” of the Nazis to that seen in 2018 (Photo credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

In January 1939 my father, Nicholas Winton, stood in a refugee camp in central Czechoslovakia, witnessing helpless families with no way out, pleading for sanctuary for their children.

The Nazis were marching across Europe, threatening violence and destruction on those they hated or who stood against them.  Despite having no authority or influence, he decided to act: to try at least to get the children to safety.  That decision led to the Czech and Slovak Kindertransport, saving the lives of hundreds of endangered, mostly-Jewish children.

Today witnessing the scenes in Afghanistan as the Taliban spread their own brand of violence to those they hate and have opposed them, we see uncomfortable similarities to the past and fear for those abandoned to their fate today.  We can look at this unfolding crisis and feel impotent, but we needn’t be.

My father did not accomplish the 1939 rescue alone –many  volunteers appeared and played their part: lobbying government, fundraising, offering homes to children, organising and publicising.

So though as individuals we may feel helpless, we can all do something! We can join together with those groups sending strong messages to our government and with others providing for the needs of new arrivals here, fundraising and spreading the word.

The Jewish community truly understand the price paid when endangered families are left behind and their moral authority campaigning for Afghans is indisputable.  Jewish News, JCORE and Refugee Trauma Initiative have launched a campaign to lobby government and push for more to be done. Supporting that campaign would be a good first step. Other initiatives can be found through local synagogues and community groups.

When war started in September 1939 and the rescue effort had to stop, my father and his colleague Trevor Chadwick both felt they had failed.  They had 5,000 names on their list and only 669 of them were brought to safety. In 1988, 50 years after the Kindertransport, my father began to meet those rescued children, now adults, and he discovered that there were now many thousands alive due to the work he and his fellow volunteers had done. They gave him a ring as a token of their gratitude, inscribed with words from the Talmud, “Save one life, save the world”.  Each person helped, each life saved is precious.  So whatever we can do today to try and save a life is infinitely valuable and contributes to saving the world.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments