Anger after Jewish children saved by Sir Nicholas Winton described as ‘central European’

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Anger after Jewish children saved by Sir Nicholas Winton described as ‘central European’

Warner Bros updates wording to make clear the 'kinder' depicted in the film of One Life, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins, were overwhelmingly Jewish.

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Warner Brothers has updated materials for the film One Life to make clear that the children saved by Sir Nicholas Winton were ‘predominantly Jewish’ – after the film was widely promoted online describing the youngsters as ‘Central European’. 

It’s believed the ‘Central European’ description originated from a film website.

Posts on social media platforms from retailers and cinemas promoting the film sparked widespread anger, with campaigner against antisemitism Rachel Riley among those to protest.

Riley wrote: “Wow. They can’t even bring themselves to say “Jewish children” were saved from the Nazis. “Jewish child Holocaust survivors no longer creditable? Sign of the messed up times. ”

As complaints about the wording mounted, the retail chain HMV subsequently deleted their post that had used the phrase “central European.”  Other followed their lead.

It was unclear who was immediately responsible for the poorly worded press release.

On the Warner Bros website it states that One Life “tells the true story of Sir Nicholas ‘Nicky’ Winton, a young London broker who, in the months leading up to World War II, rescued 669 predominantly Jewish children from the Nazis.”

But Jewish News understands Warner Brothers, the film’s YK distributor, had referred to 669 children, without mentioning Jewish in recognition of the fact around 100 of those saved were not.

Following the uproar, Warners changed this to “669 predominantly Jewish children”.

One Life was released in UK cinemas on New Year’s Day.

Johnny Flynn, who is known for roles in Stardust and Emma,  portrays Sir Nicholas in his younger years.

Barbara Winton, Winton’s daughter and biographer, when she gave permission to See-Saw Films to make the project.

Born in Hampstead, north London to German-Jewish parents who had emigrated to Britain at the beginning of the 20th century, Winton, alongside a few volunteers – including his mother – worked tirelessly to get Jewish children into Britain to escape the Nazis in the Kindertransport programme after the British government relaxed its immigration laws and agreed to allow in a limited number of children from Germany and Austria.

This included finding host families and raising funds to cover the travel expenses of the children.

The last train of children was scheduled to leave on 1 September 1939, but  was cancelled because war broke out leaving Winton devastated about the fate of the  250 children on board

Jewish News has approached Warner Bros and See Saw for comment.

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