WILLISTON, ND (KXNET) — About 6 million European Jewish people were killed during the Holocaust, according to the National World War II Museum. There were efforts made by many people to rescue children from Nazi-controlled territories, and one British humanitarian saved more than 600 children before the start of World War II.
Williston high school students were able to hear from an inspirational speaker on Monday.
Sir Nicholas George Winton organized kindertransport for children from Nazi-occupied countries, and his son was in Williston, to share his father’s story.
“Hitler was having them thrown out of their business, thrown out of their homes, and they were seeking refuge. So he saw this and felt he needed to do something. so he helped organize an escape route for the children,” said Nick Winton.
Winton says his father helped transport the 669 mostly Jewish children from Czechoslovakia to the United Kingdom ahead of World War II.
Students at the event learned that Winton never knew his father did this, until the late 80’s.
“It was only when I saw the TV clip, which so many people have seen, where he’s asked, would the audience’s asked would the people he saved stand up and 20 or so people get to their feet and I think, ‘Oh God, that’s what he did,’ and then it suddenly becomes real when you can see real people. It’s not a story anymore, it’s real life,” said Winton.
Students at the event were able to ask Winton questions afterward. One student says he liked that Winton helped because it was the right thing to do, not because it made him look good.
“The way that he didn’t just fully announce it to the public for press or all that, it just kind of warmed your heart a little bit,” said Camrin Dean, a senior.
He says he also wanted students to leave his presentation with one message, any one of them can make a difference.
“It makes me feel like tomorrow I could go out and do something. Even if it’s small, I can make a difference in this community, I can make a difference in this world. And I think everybody else in this room could feel the same way,” said senior Anthony Hickle.
Winton also spoke at a free public event for the Williston community on Sunday.
Winton was able to come to Williston through the PBS Spark Grant and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.