Winton Monument in Prague Central Station

Winton Monument at Prague Central Station is a must-see. On platform 1, a heart-warming monument attracts the attention. A statue of a bespectacled man carrying a little boy, holding by the hand a young girl, a suitcase next to them, they are ready to board a train. This monument is dedicated to all children who were saved from transportation to Auschwitz. Nicolas Winton (1909-2015) saved 669 children from the Holocaust. This brave man is sometimes referred to as the British Schindler, a title worthy of him because he saved Jewish children and brought them to Great Britain where foster families waited for them.

winton monument

Winton Monument in Prague

The Winton monument is a bronze statue of Sir Nicholas Winton made by Flor Kent, unveiled on 1 September 2009. The little girl standing next to Winton is modelled on the granddaughter of a woman saved by travelling to Britain in 1939. In March of that year, Winton began organizing train transport for Jewish children in Prague. All in all, eight trains arrived safely in Hook of Holland (the Netherlands) from where the ferry brought them to Britain. The ninth train never made it, war had broken out and the train was stopped. Only two children on this train survived.
Kent’s statue “Für Das Kind” is in Liverpool Street Station, London, where the journey of the children ended and where they were met by their foster parents. The same boy and girl now sit on a white block, their suitcase next to them.

winton monument

Sir Winton: who was he?

Nicolas Winton’s parents were German Jews who immigrated to England in 1907 and changed their name from Wertheim to Winton. Nicolas was born in 1907. Just before World War II, he went to what was then Czechoslovakia to help a friend with Jewish social work. In 1938, he decided to take action against the alarming developments that threatened Jewish families and arranged safe passages for their children to Britain. Winton organized these transports from his hotel room on Wenceslas Square in Prague. After the Nazis invaded the country in 1939, the transports stopped. During the war, Winton fought in the British Army.

Winton Rescues Jewish Children

Shortly before Kristallnacht (the November Pogrom of 1938), the British House of Commons passed a bill stating that refugees could be received in England if they were under seventeen years of age, provided that a host or foster family was arranged in advance for all children. In addition, fifty pounds sterling had to be paid per child to participate in the cost of their return home after the war. It was not an easy task to collect the Jewish children from Czechoslovakia. The journey went via the Netherlands; the ferries plying between Hook of Holland and Harwich. Not much time was left for the transports because the Dutch government closed the borders to refugees after Kristallnacht. With the help of the British Government, Nicolas Winton succeeded in arranging safe travel to Great Britain via the Netherlands for many Czechoslovak Jewish children.

winton monument

Honour Where Honour Is Due

Nicolas Winton, who saved so many Jewish children just before the Second World War, never talked about his heroic deeds. Many years later, not until 1988, his wife Grete discovered in the attic of their home a list of names and addresses in a notebook. Only then did she realize that her husband was a war hero who saved Jewish children from the Holocaust at the risk of his own life.

The BBC made a program highlighting Nicolas Winton’s heroic deeds, and he children, now adults, met with their hero. In 2014, one year before his death, Nicolas Winton traveled to Prague and received the Order of the White Lion, the highest decoration in the Czech Republic.
On the day of the ceremony, a Czech military plane would pick him up from England in the morning and fly back in the evening. Winton, who was an RAF pilot during World War II, had to be persuaded to come to Prague and agreed only if he could sit in the cockpit during the flight.

Farewell Memorial Dedicated to the Parents of the Winton Children

Another work of art related to Sir Nicholas Winton is located at Prague Central station: hands reaching out as part of a closed door. Withered roses clamped between the door handle. It is a tribute to the parents of the Winton children. They said goodbye and their children who traveled to the unknown. It took willpower and courage from the parents to let them go. In those pre-war days, nothing was known about the concentration camps and the Holocaust as a ‘solution to the Jewish question’. Most parents did not survive the Holocaust.
The sculpture is located in a passage of Central Station on ground floor level and under the dome of the Fantova Cafe.

Getting there

Prague Central Station, Praha Hlavni Nadrazi, is in the Nove Mesto district close to Wenceslas Square. Apart from the Winton monument on platform 1, the station is worth a closer look. It consists of two parts: the original art nouveau style part and the extension built during the communist period. Be sure to go to Kavarna Fantova for a coffee located in the former ticket office and admire the dome, the stained-glass windows and allegorical statue of Prague, Mother of Cities.

Address: Winton Monument, platform 1, Praha hlavni nadrazi, Prague Central Station, Wilsonova 8, Nove Mesto, Prague
Public transport: metro line C, Hlavni Nadrazi, trams 5, 9, 15 and 26

Photos: Marianne Crone and Wiki Commons

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