Today the Pope has declared that he considers we are in the third world war already. I am not a great supporter of any organised religion, and the Pontiff has done nothing to improve my views in the past, though on occasion some words of wisdom seem to emanate..."Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction," he said.
I rarely make political comment, and today will be the same. I can reflect upon the similarities of the German march into German Speaking areas of Czechoslovakia to cheers and adulation in 1938, and the entry of Russian troops into the Ukraine... I can view the rise of Caliphates across the Middle East, and regret the lack of reporting on those in Nigeria... I can look at the furor of the Scottish Referendum, only a few days away, and hear the repetition of the cross allegations of disaster and destruction - reminding me of the old adage that you can tell when a politician is lying - his lips move...
And today will be no different. I shall not comment upon the politics, but reflect upon the humanity. Today, I noted that Sir Nicholas Winton is still alive aged 104. For those who do not know Sir Nicholas, there is a campaign at the moment to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize - and they had better think about doing it quickly if he is to get it while he is alive.. As late as the end of August he was attending a holocaust center in Detroit where his son was speaking on his behalf.... He was the 29 year old British citizen who popped across to Czechoslovakia at the onset of the last world war, and rescued 669 children, many Jewish, and did not talk about it for 50 years...
If you have a moment - watch this touching clip from 1988..
"Sir Nicholas Winton who organised the rescue and passage to Britain of about 669 mostly Jewish Czechoslovakian children destined for the Nazi death camps before World War II in an operation known as the Czech Kindertransport. This video is the BBC Programme "That's Life" aired in 1988. "
Born 1909 in Hampstead, London, a son of German Jewish parents who had moved to London two years earlier. The family name had been Wertheim, but they changed it to Winton in an effort at integration. They also converted to Christianity, and Winton was baptised.
Shortly before Christmas 1938, Winton was planning to travel to Switzerland for a skiing holiday. He decided instead to visit Prague and help his friend Martin Blake, who had called to ask him to assist in Jewish welfare work. Winton single-handedly established an organisation to aid children from Jewish families at risk from the Nazis. He set up his office at a dining room table in his hotel in Wenceslas Square. In November 1938, following the Kristallnacht in Nazi-ruled Germany, the House of Commons approved a measure to allow the entry into Britain of refugees younger than 17, provided they had a place to stay and a warranty of £50 was deposited for their eventual return to their own country.
Winton found homes in Britain for 669 children, many of whose parents would perish in Auschwitz. Winton's mother worked with him to place the children in homes and later hostels. Throughout the summer, Winton placed advertisements seeking families to accept them. The last group of 250, scheduled to leave Prague on 1 September 1939, did not reach safety. Hitler had invaded Poland and World War II had begun.
A slightly more in depth account appears here on the 60 minutes program..
It's true that I live with my head in the ground these days.. That I pride myself on living "1,000 years in the past - oh .. and two steps to the left", that I entertain people and write silly songs and find a trivial comment for every situation.... but I note the following awards for the Nobel Peace Prize..
2012 - The European Union !!
"for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe"
2009 - Barack Obama !!
"for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples"
2007 - Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) !!)
"for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change"
(don't let me start on the US and its record for climate - remember Kyoto - we do but they don't!)
2002 - Jimmy Carter
"for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development"
I won't start on the rest...
But I do reflect that there is one man who can be seen to have made a huge impact upon the lives of many people. Who was not doing it as a politician or a state, but as an individual..
Okay - I will get off my high horse now and return to trivia fun and games and social media.
But I will be raising my glass this evening to an old man ... Who I do not think ever wanted to be recognised - but is deserving of my salutations.
"Cheers" Sir Nicholas Winton...
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