The baptised Anglican, Nicholas Winton, rescued hundreds of Jewish children from the concentration camps. A new film pays tribute to his life


The story of how an agnostic London stockbroker dropped everything to rescue children from an impending Holocaust tugs hard at the emotions. 

Warner Bros and the BBC have produced a heart-wrenching movie in One Life, now showing in UK cinemas. It tells the story of ‘British Schindler’ Sir Nicholas Winton who courageously saved the lives of 669 children from Prague, following the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia. Their parents, for the most part, were already either killed or on their way to brutal concentration camps.

The release date of this film is poignant - coming off the back of tragic increases of antisemitism across the West. And this itself follows the October 7 massacre in Israel, which was the bloodiest day for Jews since the Holocaust.

With Johnny Flynn playing the young Winton, Anthony Hopkins is a perfect fit for the older version in the late 1980s when the amazing story of what he achieved first became widely known through the Sunday Mirror and the Esther Rantzen fronted That’s Life! programme.

Helena Bonham Carter plays Winton’s mother, backing him to the hilt, in the run-up to the outbreak of war. It was a huge task, largely run from their Hampstead home. Sourcing documents was a major consideration, working with the Home Office to expedite the process, along with finding homes in which to place the rescued children. 

Born to Jewish parents, Winton was baptised an Anglican, and although he didn’t profess any particular faith, he was driven, whether consciously or not, by Judeo-Christian ethical principles.  

Every life counts, and there are 6,000 people alive today because of what he did. Yet Winton never felt like he’d done enough, and wrestled with fact that 1.5 million children ultimately perished in the Holocaust. He was keenly aware that nine trains failed to leave Prague due to Nazi intervention, and it is unlikely that the passengers survived.

Nevertheless, it was, objectively, a great escape, and Winton has rightly been hailed a hero. His work also served to bring the gospel to the Jewish people, as I discovered some years ago. One of the children Winton rescued, John Fieldsend, was placed with a Christian family in Sheffield, eventually becoming a disciple of Jesus himself and getting involved with reaching out to his own people with the truth of their Messiah through the Church’s Ministry among Jewish people (CMJ).

For her part, Esther Rantzen brought home the enormity of the rescue in dramatic fashion through her popular consumer advice programme. Many will recall watching the show as the elderly Winton came face to face with the reality of what he had achieved. One after the other, every member of the audience stood up to acknowledge and thank him for his role in saving their lives. He was greatly moved and astonished. Surely one of the best TV moments in history. And this film, though very upsetting, is an immensely moving account of the epic adventure of a very brave and determined young man who never sought any recognition.

The film ends with some of the survivors and their families meeting regularly with him in his home. He remembers one of those he rescued as a little girl enjoying swimming, and invites her and her family to use his pool. There’s also a touching scene of how, in response to his wife’s request, he makes a bonfire of all his records, apart from the precious scrapbook containing the story of the rescue along with the names of all involved.

Before he died in 2015, aged 106, Winton was honoured for services to humanity by the late Queen Elizabeth II.


With Jewish people feeling threatened in our time, the film is a good reminder for Christians today to lead the way and stand up to be counted. We owe everything we cherish to the Jewish people – our scriptures and Jesus himself, who said: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)

One Life is now showing in UK cinemas