Winston’s Children Share Their Stories

Nicholas Winton organized the escape of 669 children, mostly Jews, from Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II. After Mr. Winton died on July 1, at age 106, The New York Times asked the survivors, the original Winton’s Children, and their descendants — whose numbers now exceed 6,000 — to share their stories. Below are selected responses, edited and condensed for clarity.

Mr. Salz in 1943, in his Royal Air Force uniform

Mr. Salz in 1943, in his Royal Air Force uniform

Paul Salz, 91

Winton Child

I was 15 when my parents decided to send me to England. Before that, I had moved to Prague where my parents had an apartment. They were living in Stodo, Czechoslovakia, but were forced to flee when the Germans took over the Sudetenland.

I left Prague on one of Mr. Winton’s trains with 10 Marks in my pocket for spending money. At the German-Dutch border, German guards searched all of our luggage. They confiscated my 10 Marks.

In January 1940, I got word that my parents and brother were able to emigrate to the United States. At 20, I volunteered to join the Royal Air Force. I arrived in the United States in 1948 and reunited with my parents and brother after a little more than eight years.

I met my wife, Lottie, at the International House at the University of California, Berkeley. She was Czech, but did not have the advantage of being one of Winton’s Children. She had been put into the Terezin concentration camp, then Dachau. She survived but her parents did not.

We married July 1, 1953, and have two daughters and four grandchildren. I was an electical engineer at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory for nearly 40 years.

Ernst Steiner, fourth from the right, in Bratislava in 1939, shortly before his train journey to England. CreditAmit Yahav

Amit Yahav, 28

Grandson of Ernst Steiner, a Winton Child

My grandfather Ernst Steiner and his family moved to Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, when the Germans invaded Prague. He joined a group of children there who were taken back to Prague to join the main Kindertransport organized by Nicholas Winton in May 1939.

Tragically, they were only able to get a spot for Ernst, not his two brothers or his sister. At age 12, my grandfather bade farewell to his father and set off on a journey to England. He lived in a children’s home in East London that was run by some Jewish women.

From 1941 to 1942, my grandfather exchanged letters with his family with the help of the Red Cross through Switzerland. In 1943, the letters stopped.

The children, including my grandfather, were enrolled in the Jews’ Free School and, during the Blitz, were evacuated to the city of Ely in Cambridgeshire.

From 1941 to 1942, my grandfather exchanged letters with his family with the help of the Red Cross through Switzerland. In 1943, the letters stopped.

We later found out that his family had been sent to concentration camps. My grandfather’s father and older brother were killed at the Majdanek concentration camp in Poland. There are no death certificates for my grandfather’s mother, his younger brother or his younger sister.

Near the end of the war, in 1945, my grandfather — now 87 and living in Petah Tikva, near Tel Aviv — joined the British Army and served in the Jewish Brigade in Berlin and elsewhere in Europe. In 1948, when he was demobilized from the British Army, he immigrated to Israel, where he met and married my grandmother in 1950. They had two children and four grandchildren.

Peter Henry Sprinzels, 12, before leaving Prague on one of Winton’s trains, with his allocated number. CreditHelen Sprinzels

Helen Sprinzels, 60

Daughter of Peter Henry Sprinzels, a Winton Child

My father, Peter Henry Sprinzels, was one of the children rescued by Sir Nicholas Winton from Prague in 1939. Unlike most rescued children who were placed with foster families in England, his own father (my grandfather), was the guarantor.

I believe my father never talked about the train trip from Prague because of the painful memories associated with having to leave his mother when he was so young.

I recently visited Prague to try to find out what happened to his mother and his paternal grandmother. I discovered their names on the wall of a synagogue in Prague that displayed the names of victims of the Holocaust.

My father attended Cambridge University and emigrated to Australia around 1949 on a scholarship and earned his PhD in biochemistry from Melbourne University in 1953. He and my mother had three children and four grandchildren.

He died in 1989.

My family and I had a chance to meet Mr. Winton this year, before his death.