24 Sep 2002 12:14 PM

Tomorrow, Peter Hain, Europe Minister, will present a letter of tribute from the Prime Minister to a British man who saved the lives of hundreds of Jewish children destined for Nazi concentration camps.

At the outbreak of World War II in 1939, in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, Nicholas Winton smuggled 669 children onto trains, bringing them across Hitler's Germany to Britain. For nearly 50 years he kept this a secret, but now he is often referred to as "Britain's Schindler". Unlike Schindler, Winton is alive and well at 93, and still diffident about why he kept his secret for so long.

The presentation of Tony Blair's letter at the Barbican Screen tomorrow evening will be followed by the premiere of a documentary about Nicholas Winton: ' Nicolas J Winton, Power of Good'. A number of the rescued children, the producer and director of the film will attend. It will be the first time Mr Winton has met some of the children he saved since the war. The film is part of the New Europe Film Season celebrating Europe's biggest ever expansion, where up to ten countries will join the European Union.

Peter Hain said:

'Nicholas Winton has touched the lives of many. All of the children he saved survived the war, but few of their parents did. The legacy of his act extends across the globe. There are over 5,000 descendants of the Winton children around the world, including in the UK, Canada, Czech Republic and the United States. This film is a poignant portrait of his legacy".

In 1939, Mr Winton wrote in a letter: "There is a difference between passive goodness and active goodness. The latter 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 who are suffering and in danger and not merely in leading an exemplary life, in a purely passive way of doing no wrong."


Date: Wednesday 25 September

Time: 6.45pm: Opportunity to interview Nicholas Winton and Vera Gissing (one of the rescued children and author of the book 'Nicholas Winton and the Rescued Generation').

7pm: Peter Hain will present letter from Tony Blair to Nicholas Winton. Mr Hain will then be available for interviews outside the cinema. (Broadcast media should allow enough time to set up in the cinema)

7.10pm: Film Screening (60mins) followed by audience discussion with producer Matej Minac, Nicholas Winton and Vera Gissing. (Media staying for the screening must advise in advance). Beta tapes of the film are available from the FCO.

Where: Barbican Screen, Silk Street, London EC2Y

Further Libby Green 020 7270 3120 (FCO) Information: Sarah Harvey 020 7703 2253 (Barbican)

Notes for Editors

'New Europe Film Season' was launched on Thursday 19 September and will run to Thursday 26 September. For programme details call: 020 7382 7000 or visit: www.barbican.org.uk/cinema

The films in the New Europe Film Season cover a range of themes in a variety of settings - both traditional and modern. They have been chosen by respective country representatives in Britain and celebrate both the diversity and unity within Europe and the European Union.

The 13 candidate countries for EU membership are: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania and Turkey.

Press Officer: Libby Green: 020 7270 3120