Saturday 16 December 2023

One Life – Nicholas Winton

 Free Architecture Kindertransport Statue photo and picture

Nicholas Winton was very involved with the Kindertransport and helped bring 669 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia to the UK on six successful transports. We all probably remember him on Estrher Rantzen’s  That’s Life  in 1988 to which he was invited. He was shown to a seat on the front row. His request to be seated further back was ignored. At one point Rantzen asked everybody in the audience who had been rescued by him to stand up.  Only he and his wife remained seated.

Now a film has been made about Winton: One Life. The official trailer shows that occasion.

Anthony Hopkins plays the older Winton. Johnny Flynn plays the younger Winton.  Helena Bonham Carter plays Winton’s mother. Winton involved her in much of the organisation. She was very effective. She challenges officials and extols the British virtues of a commitment to decency, kindness and a respect for others. Yes, I can confirm that bureaucracy did need challenging; I have seen the minutes of the committee meetings that discussed the Kindertransport.    

Winton’s parents were Jewish. They converted to the Church of England and changed their name from Wertheim to Winton to allow for better integration.   

The screenplay is based on the book It’s Not Impossible…The Life of Sir Nicholas Winton, written by his daughter Barbara Winton.

The film is produced in Britain and goes on general release in the New Year. It promises to be a tear-jerker and is perhaps our contribution that resembles Schindler’s List.

The film tells the story through a series of flash backs as Winton sorts through his papers and is burning many of them in a bonfire in his garden. It seems that Winton had not wanted to bring attention to what he had done and indeed, in both the trailer for the film and the actual show with Rantzen he looks bewildered.  

He has kept the papers secret until 1988 and was clearing them because his wife wanted their home to be tidier. But when she realised what they were she took action to let other people know.

Though Winton rescued those 669 children he was constantly haunted by the number he couldn’t rescue.  

His grandson was featured on The One Show this week talking about the film.  

Monday 11 December 2023

When Glass Breaks by Allissa Oldenberg



Ben Lindenheim gets separated from his brother Saul when they escape Nazi Germany on the Kindertransport.  Saul boards the wrong ship and is transported to the US instead.

Ben is looked after well by the English family that hosts him. He falls in love and marries a young girl who lives in the neighbouring street. Britain has become his home, so when World War II breaks out he joins up and fights with the British.

Most of his unit are killed but he is looked after by the Resistance, finally making it as far as Malta where he is able to carry on working for the military. There, however, he learns that his wife and baby son and his wife’s family have all been killed in the Blitz.

After the war he goes to South Africa and is swindled out of a collection of diamonds he has found.

He starts to suffer from psoriasis and throughout the rest of his life he is hospitalised frequently for it. It flares up every time he is stressed.  He meets his new wife Gail, a nurse at the hospital, and they have two children. The older one, Owen, is a disappointment.  He is expelled from the school at which he had a scholarship. He leaves home but returns twelve years later after being in prison. Within a year he is killed in a motorcycle accident; it was probably his own fault – he was four times over the limit.

Daughter Helen fares a little better though her first marriage is to an abusive partner.

Ben has been secretive all of his life and we aren’t exactly sure why he doesn’t tell Gail and his children about his past. Possibly it is because it is too painful.

He does come into contact with his brother right at the end of the book – after he has suffered a stroke.

After his death, daughter Helen puts the pieces together to tell his story. A DNA test has told her that she is Jewish. She writes in order to find an explanation as to why her father always overreacted when glass broke, something that started after the Kristallnacht.               

See on Amazon