Author Barbara Winton, Daughter of Sir Nicholas Winton, Visits USC Shoah Foundation

Fri, 11/28/2014 - 5:00pm

Barbara Winton has been hearing incredible stories about her father all her life. So when she visited USC Shoah Foundation last week, it wasn’t just the testimonies that talk about how her father saved hundreds of lives during the Holocaust that impressed her – it was how these testimonies are being used to educate the next generation.

Winton is the daughter of Sir Nicholas Winton, who, as a young stockbroker in England, organized safe passage to England for 669 Czech Jewish children during World War II, thus saving them from Nazi persecution in the Holocaust. However, his role in the Kindertransport was virtually unknown until his wife discovered his scrapbook of documents and photographs in 1988.

Today, Sir Nicholas is 105 years old and is often in contact with many of the children – now grown and with grandchildren themselves – he saved. It is estimated that 6,000 people in the world are alive today because of his actions.

Winton wrote a new book about her father called If It’s Not Impossible…The Life of Sir Nicholas Winton, out now. The Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles hosted a book signing for Winton last week and USC Shoah Foundation Executive Director Stephen Smith invited her to visit the Institute and learn more about the Visual History Archive.

Staff spoke to Winton about the Visual History Archive and the Institute’s educational programs including IWitness that introduce students to testimony. “Nicholas Winton” is an indexing term in the archive and is mentioned in 11 testimonies.

Winton said it was wonderful to see the testimonies in the Visual History Archive and learn about how they are being used in schools around the world. Her father has always talked about how important it is to not just keep historical materials but to use them to change the world today.

“If you’re going to talk about the past, use it to make a difference now,” Winton said. “It’s interesting to see how [the testimonies] are being used to get young people today to confront issues, deal with situations and do something different.”

Sir Nicholas is also emphatic that people understand that genocides are still happening today, Winton said.

He still speaks to students (Winton said that at 105 she isn’t always sure he’ll be up for the task but her father always manages to prove her wrong), Sir Nicholas always delivers a simple message: Don’t let small differences outweigh the similarities that all people share.

“He always says the same thing: Why do people have to be separated by religion instead of focusing on what connects us and what is the same in all religions?” Winton said. “Let’s forget about what makes us different.”