Nicholas Winton may proceed to Nobel Peace Prize final round
The 104-years-old legendary saviour of 669 jewish children from Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia, Sir Nicholas Winton, will probably get into the list of top ten candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize. The iniciative to nominate Winton for Nobel Prize emerged from a group of Czech students who personally went to Oslo to hand the petition over to the chairman of the Nobel commitee. The award ceremony will take place in the autumn.
212 762. That was the number of signatures on the petition organised by students of Open Gate School on the outskirts of Prague, who personally handed the document over to the director of Alfred Nobel Institute, Gair Lundestad, in Oslo on 14 June. According to the Nobel commission, Sir Winton will probably be one of top ten nominated. „Mr. Lundestad was excited with our project and said that this kind of young people’s effort was hard to see. Moreover, he stated, that the petition involved the second highest number of collected signatures in the history of Nobel Peace Prize,“ claimed teacher from Open Gate School, David Nitsche.
"The first phase of the signatures collecting campaign ended successfully by gaining the nomination of Sir Winton for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. This happened on 24 January thanks to the Chairwoman of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, Miroslava Němcová, who submited the nominaton to Oslo and at the same time gave the initiative patronage," is written on Campaign for Sir Nicholas Winton to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize websites.
According to the campaign, signatures were collected via online petition especially abroad in countries where the “Winton Children” and their descendants are currently residing. The collection of signatures was finished at the end of June.
Student Dominika Kouřilová and Geir Lundestad at the Nobel Institute in Oslo
„We believe that Sir Nicholas Winton should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for this deed. By this act, he contributed to the idea of “the fraternity of nations” as spirited in Alfred Nobel´s final testament,“ stated Dominika Kouřilová on behalf of all involved students, who took part in petition sheets handover in Oslo.
Record number of nominations for Nobel Prize 2013
Behind the initial idea and the whole initiative are the Czech students from Open Gate School, who are following up with the former nominations organized by the “Lottery of Life” educational program devoted to the life of Sir Nicholas Winton. According to Lundestad, this year is exceptional, because there is a record number of 259 nominations in history of Nobel Peace Prize.
Sir Winton’s story is an evidence of deep humanity. In the year 1939, Sir Nicholas Winton organized the rescue of 669 mostly Jewish Czech children immediately before the outbreak of World War II. Despite the reluctance of the government in his homeland, Winton on his own organized train transportations into Great Britain, giving the children new hope and a new home. 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.
Winton’s hidden story was revealed accidentally
One of the most remarkable things about Winton’s story is the fact that he hid his exploits, even from his wife. Winton’s achievements had gone unrecognized until 1988 when his wife Grete found lists of the children in an attic. It contained the names of the children, including their parents' names, and the names and addresses of the families that took them in. By sending letters to these addresses, 80 of "Winton's children" were found in Britain.
Winton was already nominated by the Czech government for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize. According to the Nitsche, even if Winton will not be awarded this year, students from Open Gate will go on their initiative. He said that the whole issue had pedagogical and civic character. The Open Gate Boarding School director hopes this project will be benefit for similar activities in other schools. „It is not only about the prize. It is about extension of Winton’s story and complete ending of this iniciative would be counter-productive from this point of view,“ added.
The Nobel Peace Prize winners are usually announced in October and the awards are always presented on 10 December, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death in 1896. Recently, Winton was awarded with plenty of prizes. He is the holder of prestigeous Member of the Order of the British Empire and in the 2002 he was knighted in recognition of his work on the Czech Kindertransport. In 2003, Winton received the Pride of Britain Award for Lifetime Achievement. Winton was also honoured by the Czech government in several ways, the most honorace of these awards is Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk from hands of the first Czech president Václav Havel.