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Prague - On September 1, 2009, exactly 70 years after World War II broke out, a special train commemorating the charity mission of British broker Nicholas Winton will set out for London from Prague.
Between March and September 1939, Winton saved 669 children from a transport to Nazi death camps by taking them to London, where they found asylum in British families.
Families of the rescued children have grown to 5,000 offsprings, and are often called "Winton's children".
Winton's rescue mission, which he kept secret even from his family, was unveiled only 50 years later by his wife, who found documents about the children transports to freedom when cleaning the attic.
Winton's acts will now be commemorated by the Winton Train project.
A challenge for young filmmakers
A special train, which will take the same route as Winton's transports did, is meant to symbolise the desire for freedom and a clear rejection of nationalist, ethnic or religious hatred.
Descendants of the children saved by Winton will meet inside contemporary carriages pulled by a steam engine, together with prominent personalities of European public life, as well as art school students who will document the journey.
The train journey to London's Liverpool Street station will also be accompanied by events organised by young students from all over Europe. Through film and other works of art, the students's task will be to expose current conflicts and people who have stood up to oppose them against all odds.
Students currently in the last year of the Miroslav Ondříček Film Academy are already working on stories for films to be directed by Matěj Mináč, the author of documentaries on Winton's children. The best films selected from among the works shot by students from all around the world will be screened during the Winton train journey.
Students: Winton deserves the Nobel Prize
Organisers are hoping that Sir Nicholas Winton himself will meet the train at its destination.
Winton, 99, who, among other things, was involved with care for the elderly, was awarded knighthood for his deeds by the queen. He also a received the order of T.G. Masaryk in 1998, awarded by the Czech president to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the development of democracy, humanity and human rights.
Last year, pupils of the elementary school in Kunžak, south Bohemia, began a petition in which elementary and secondary school students ask the Norwegian parliament to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Winton. At the end of January, the petition bore more than 47,000 signatures.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek also took up the cause, and Sir Winton was nominated for the Nobel by the Czech government this year.