"Nicky's Family"

The inspiring story of Sir Nicholas Winton

Nicholas Winton holding a boy.

I recently spent 96 mesmerizing minutes viewing the latest film release of the story of Sir Nicholas Winton at the Detroit Film Theatre within the Detroit Institute of Arts complex. “Nicky’s Family” (http://www.menemshafilms.com/nickys-family) portrays the bold actions of a young British businessman who saved 669 Jewish children from almost certain death in the days before World War II broke out on Sept. 1, 1939.

The story of determination is amazing. The story of a humble man is inspiring. I am sure some in the theatre were learning of Nicky’s actions for the first time. The film shares the story of 1939 in clips and through interviews of many of those 669 precious souls saved. It weaves around these clips the horror of the separation of parents and children as well as the concentration camps that followed for many of those same parents. It also portrays the modern day Nicholas Winton, who turns 104 next month and still maintains his own home — and has a decided glint in his eye. Surely the folks learning of his long ago deeds left the theater with admiration and thanks in their hearts.

We at the Mackinac Center first learned of Nicky when then-President Lawrence W. Reed met and interviewed him. For more of this remarkable story please read www.mackinac.org/8160.

For some of us, this is a more personal story. I will be forever grateful that I have met Nicky. I have been a guest in his home. I have waved a Union Jack with him in a box at the famed Royal Albert Hall as we listened to some of the most awe-inspiring music ever written. In addition, I have met three of those 669 in three different countries of the many they now inhabit. Yes, to me it is a very personal story.

“Nicky’s Family” is a story of triumph. Triumph over tyrants. Triumph of freedom which means everything to many of us. The children saved and their descendants now number more than 5,700. These people, down to the young grandchildren, have been contributors to our society and have done amazing things. Many feel the need to emulate Sir Nicholas Winton in doing good works wherever they are needed.

Thanks must be given to writer director Matej Minac for once again bringing this story to the big screen. His documentary, “Nicholas Winton: The Power of Good,” tells more of this incredible man. It and “Nicky’s Family” are both narrated by Joe Schlesinger of CBC fame. He too has a personal view of Nicky and his goodness. Yes, he was one of the saved children.

Unfortunately, “Nicky’s Family” is in limited release. But no matter how far you must drive to see this movie it will be decidedly worth every mile.

Some people make sweeping statements. Others live them. From a letter written in 1939 by Sir Nicholas Winton:

….there is a difference between passive goodness and active goodness which is, in my opinion, the giving of one’s time and energy in the alleviation of pain and suffering. It entails going out, finding and helping those in suffering and danger and not merely leading an exemplary life, in the purely passive way of doing no wrong.