Eva Paddock and Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines, half-sisters who found themselves aboard the final ‘kindertransport’ train from Prague in 1939, have shared their poignant story. This daring operation, orchestrated by Nicholas Winton and his fellow humanitarians, managed to save 669 children – predominantly Jewish – from the looming threat of Nazi persecution.
A Daring Escape
As the clock ticked towards the outbreak of World War II, Nicholas Winton, a British stockbroker, embarked on a mission that would ultimately alter the course of hundreds of lives. Having witnessed the escalating horrors unfolding across Europe, Winton was compelled to act. He organized a series of trains, later known as the ‘kindertransport,’ which ferried children from the clutches of German-occupied Czechoslovakia to the relative safety of England.
Among those rescued were Eva Paddock and Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines, who recently revealed their harrowing journey on the Prague Talk podcast. Recalling the chaos and fear that shrouded their homeland, they expressed their heartfelt gratitude towards Winton for providing them with a chance at a future.
The Fruits of Heroism
Winton’s heroic efforts resulted in the birth of an estimated 6,000 descendants, who owe their lives to his unwavering determination and compassion. Remarkably, Winton kept his actions a secret for nearly five decades, until his wife Grete stumbled upon a scrapbook filled with the names and photographs of the children he had saved.
In 1988, Winton was reunited with some of the children – now adults – on the BBC television program, ‘That’s Life!’ The emotional encounter led to widespread recognition of his heroism and solidified his place in history as a beacon of hope amidst the darkness of war.
A Lasting Legacy
Winton’s story has been immortalized in the film ‘One Life,’ which chronicles his efforts to save the children of Czechoslovakia from the impending Nazi terror. For Eva Paddock and Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines, Winton’s legacy serves as a constant reminder of the resilience and compassion that exists within humanity, even in the face of unspeakable adversity.
As the world continues to grapple with the ongoing challenges of conflict and displacement, the story of the ‘kindertransport’ offers a poignant reminder of the transformative power of empathy and courage. It is a testament to the indomitable spirit of those who dared to defy the odds and forge a brighter future for generations to come.
In the words of Eva Paddock, reflecting on the life-altering journey she and her half-sister embarked upon over eight decades ago, “We were given the chance to live, to love, and to contribute to the world in our own unique way. For that, we will forever be grateful to Nicholas Winton and the countless others who made our escape possible.”