Tributes have poured in for Sir Nicholas Winton, who was called “Britain’s Schindler” for saving the lives of Jewish children during the Holocaust, after he died aged 106.

Sir Nicholas organised eight trains to carry 669 children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia to London in 1939, fearing they would otherwise be sent to concentration camps.

Nicholas Winton who organised the rescue of Jewish children from the Holocaust in 1939, has died aged 106, his family said.
Sir Nichols with one of the children he rescued (PA)

He also helped to find foster families for the children once they arrived in England, but did not reveal his astonishing bravery for half a century, even to his wife.

Home Secretary Theresa May, MP for Maidenhead where Sir Nicholas was a resident, said he was a “hero of the 20th century”.

She said: “Against the odds, he almost single-handedly rescued hundreds of children, mostly Jewish, from the Nazis – an enduring example of the difference that good people can make even in the darkest of times.

“Because of his modesty, this astonishing contribution only came to light many years later. So many people owe their lives to Nicholas and it was fitting that, in his later years, he finally received the recognition he deserved.

“Maidenhead is rightly proud of all that he did, and we must ensure that his legacy lives on by continuing to tackle anti-Semitism and discrimination wherever it arises.”

David Cameron, also paid tribute.

Sir Nicholas, from a German-Jewish family, received a knighthood in 2003 and a Hero of the Holocaust medal at Downing Street in 2010 from Gordon Brown.

Brown said: “Anyone who had the privilege of meeting him immediately felt admiration, respect and were in awe of his courage.

“That courage led him to risk his life to save the lives of some of the most vulnerable people. His inspiration will live on.”

On his 105th birthday, the founder of the Czech Kindertransport operation was given a cake and card at his home in Maidenhead by newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky, who is a member of the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission, and visited by Vera Schaufeld, one of the children he saved.

Kaplinksy said: “Our country should be so proud of Sir Nicholas Winton. In the darkest moments of our history he showed how the best of humanity can still shine through.

 Sir Nicholas Winton as he gets a kiss on the cheek from Vera Gissingaged 74, who as an 11 year-old was helped by Sir Nicholas to escape Prague before the second World War, as Sir Nicholas who organised the rescue of Jewish children from the Holocaust in 1939, has died aged 106, his family said.
Winton with Vera Gissingaged who was helped by him to escape to Prague before the Second World War (John Stillwell/PA)

“When I met him on his birthday last year I was struck by his incredible modesty. For years he didn’t even talk about the extraordinary things he had done. It is humbling to think about the courage he showed in saving so many lives.”