Tens of thousands sign petition to put ‘British Schindler’ on stamp

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — A campaign to immortalize on a stamp Sir Nicholas Winton, known as the “British Schindler,” has garnered nearly 84,000 signatures in an online petition.

The campaign was launched a week ago by the British jewishnews.co.uk website, and is backed by the Holocaust Educational Trust, the Association of Jewish Refugees and Sir Mick Davis, who chaired David Cameron’s Holocaust Commission, according to the website.

“He was rightly honored in his lifetime including with a knighthood from the Queen and a statue in his home town,” reads the Change.org petition, which had 83,977 signatures as of Wednesday evening. “But his name and the lesson that one person can make a difference even in the face of overwhelming evil, must live on. The rare honor of a Royal Mail stamp would help to achieve that while at the same time being a fitting tribute to Sir Nicholas.”

The petition has a goal of 150,000 signatures.

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Among the signers are British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mervis, and lawmakers including Conservative ex-minister Eric Pickles and Gisela Stuart of the Labor Party.

The baptized son of Jewish parents, Winton was a 29-year-old stockbroker when he arrived in Prague in December 1938. He was planning to go on a skiing holiday in Switzerland, but changed his plans when he heard about the refugee crisis in Czechoslovakia, which had just been occupied by the Nazis. In the following nine months, he organized eight trains that carried children, the vast majority of them Jewish, from Czechoslovakia to safety in Britain.

Winton’s heroism was unremarked until the 1980s, when his wife found evidence of the rescues. The discovery led to a reunion with some of the children and a documentary. Winton received many honors in his later years, including the knighthood. Last year, the Czech government flew him to Prague in a military plane to receive the country’s highest honor.

The “Schindler” reference was to the German industrialist Oskar Schindler, who is credited with saving some 1,200 Jews in the Holocaust and whose story was made into an Academy Award-winning film, “Schindler’s List.”

The Royal Mail said in a response to the petition that Winton “is a worthy candidate,” but that there is a lengthy approval process and “given the time frames we work to, it is unlikely he would feature on a stamp in 2016, but do be assured that his name will be put forward for consideration in a stamp issue beyond then.”

All stamp subjects pass through several committees and must be approved by the queen, according to the Royal Mail.

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