Barbara Winton

* 1953  †︎ 2022

  • My father worked at various small businesses in the area. I don´t think he found this particularly satisfying. He started quite early doing voluntary work. He joined the local Rotary Club and engaged with the charitable activities. After my brother (Robin, born with the Down syndrom) was born, he realized there was very little support for the families with handicapped children and started a local branch of an organization called MENCAP which supports families with mentally handicapped children. That organization and place still exists in Maidenhead, and my father is the President of that. For many years he has been an organizer of the national charity called Abbeyfield, which provides sheltered accommodation and extra care homes for elderly people. Much of his work for them involes fund raising and finding land and getting homes built. His work for them was so significant that the first home that he got built is now called Winton House and the second home recently finished, some 5 years ago, is called Nicholas House.

  • I´m Barbara Winton, my father is Nicholas George Winton born as Nicholas George Wertheim on 19th May 1909. His parents were Rudolf and Babette Wertheim. He had a sister who was older called Charlotte known as Lottie and a brother who was younger called Robert known as Bobby. Nicholas was known as Nicky all his life. He was born 5 years before the start of the WW I and in the first 5 years of his life his family spoke German at home. His mother had just come from Germany to marry his father. His father was also of German Jewish descent. He was born in the middle of 19th century actually in Russia where his father was a consul there. When WW I started, his father came home and said: We´re no longer going to speak German, we are going to speak English only from now on. So over the next years of my father´s life he began to forget his German and was brought up and educated as an English boy.

  • He (Nicky) and Martin (Blake) and the other left wing colleagues had obviously discussed the Munich Agreement and the fact that the British Government had behaved outrageously and let down the people of Czechoslovakia. When he realized that Martin was in Prague, he knew what that meant. That many people had fled from Sudetenland and were seeking sanctuary in the Czech lands and that he was going to find a mess. And of course, when he arrived, he did. He found chaos, a lot of desperate people who had arrived in or around Prague with no money or belongings. Martin was here as a volunteer to help Doreen Warriner, She was another volunteer, who was heading the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia trying to help endangered adults to escape. She was organizing trainloads of adults out through Poland with the help of other volunteers in her office, namely Bill Barazetti, who was acting as her secretary. Nicky went round the town and saw different organizations helping out. Doreen saw that he was interested in what was going on.

  • While he was in Prague, Nicky met Trevor Chadwick and Geoff Phelps, schoolmasters from the South of England whose school had agreed to sponsor some children and bring them to England. Trevor met Nicky and said to him If you manage to get the blessing of the British Government to bring in children, I will come back to Prague and run this end of operation while you run the English end. Once Nicky discovered that the Home Office would allow the children in, he alerted Trevor who came back to Prague and for the next four months built lists of children and organized paperwork. Once the Germans had invaded the rest of the Czech lands, he had to deal with the Gestapo agent to make sure that the exit visas were stamped and the children could get on the trains. Back in England, my father had to find foster families. He did this by writing to newspapers, magazines, to many refugee organizations. He wrote to the Quakers, any organization he could think of, to the YMCA. The reason we know all about this is from the scrapbook that one of the volunteers put together and gave to Nicky at the end of the rescue operation and from which we could see what he had done at the time.

  • My father as a parent was an older parent than my friends´. He was already 44 when I was born, he was about 10 or 15 years older than the parents of my friends and was much more old fashioned than they were. He wanted us to behave properly, to come down to talk to his friends when they came to dinner, to be polite, to look tidy and not to answer back. And as we grew older, we would rebel more and more against these constraints. However serious these arguments became, his view was always that we must remain friends and we must keep talking and we mustn´t ever fight to the extent that where we couldn´t maintain our relationship. My brother and I went off to university. My parents were keen we should do that as neither of them had a chance to do so. After that we both moved away from home but we kept in touch. He was very keen on family connections, still is and wants us to get together as much as possible. He saw a lot of his brother and his brother´s family and his sister, too.

  • Full recordings
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    Praha Kampa, 29.11.2014

    duration: 57:24
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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If it´s not impossible, there must be a way to do it.

Portrait, taken from a family photo, at home in the garden, cca 1960
Portrait, taken from a family photo, at home in the garden, cca 1960
photo: archiv Nicholase Wintona

Barbara Ann Winton was born on 23rd October 1953 in Taplow, Buckinghamshire in Great Britain. She was a daughter of Grete and Nicholas Winton. She spent her childhood in Maidenhead, Berkshire, where she attended Girls´Grammar School and continued studying homeopathy at London College of Homeopathy. She worked as consultant in complementary therapy (homeopathy and nutrition therapy) and lived with her family in Herefordshire.  She devoted much of her time to her father, Sir Nicholas Winton. She accompanied him on his trips, especially to the Czech Republic. In 1988 the life of the family changed dramatically. It has become general knowledge that in 1939 Nicky saved lives of 669 mostly Jewish children by making it possible for them to escape from the Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia. Barbara took an active role in all the commemorative events linked to this deed and helped to maintain contacts with the “Winton children.” She is the author of the book If It´s Not which she not only described what happened but also tried to find the answer about what had motivated her father to take an active role and help the unknown children. Barbara Winton passed away on 20th September 2022.