Hatred then, hatred now: Kindertransport memorial smashed

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Hatred then, hatred now: Kindertransport memorial smashed

Attack happened at the Valediction monument at Prague’s main railway station, where trains shuttled 669 mainly Jewish children to safety in the UK

Smashed train window with handprints.  Credit Robert Tait for the Guardian
Smashed train window with handprints. Credit Robert Tait for the Guardian

A new Kindertransport memorial in Prague which pays tribute to Sir Nicholas Winton’s 1939 rescue effort has been damaged by determined vandals who “came prepared”.

Police said they were investigating the attack on the Valediction memorial at Prague’s main railway station, where trains shuttled 669 Jewish children to safety in the UK.

The 2017 memorial’s most evocative feature is a pane of glass designed to look like a train window, which is engraved with handprints of adults and children, forced to part by circumstance. Many of the children never saw their parents again.

Officers were called to the station on Sunday after the monument was left with a long crack across the length of its window pane.

“One hundred per cent, this was planned,” said the memorial’s Czech engraver Jan Hunat, speaking to The Guardian.

He said it had probably been struck from behind with a hammer after being carefully dislodged from its wooden frame with a chisel or screwdriver.

Sir Nicholas Winton was the architect of the Kindertransport

“The person who did this has definitely gone prepared to do it. The glass is 18mm thick and there’s no way it could have been broken otherwise. On one of the hands, even the tips of the fingers are broken.”

Tomas Kraus, secretary of the federation of Czech Jewish organisations, said a lack of CCTV meant that the chances of finding the perpetrator were slim.

Winton, a banker-turned-humanitarian who died in 2015 aged 106, helped shepherd Jewish children out in the months before Britain declared war on Nazi Germany, but never spoke about his wartime exploits until they were revealed in 1988 by TV presenter Esther Rantzen in a now-famous episode of ‘That’s Life.’

Reacting to the news, Winton’s daughter Barbara said it was “very sad”.

Smashed train window with handprints. Credit Robert Tait for the Guardian
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