I wish my grandma could see this day

When the Jewish News launched its campaign for a special stamp honouring Sir Nicholas Winton, we hoped it would help raise awareness of the darkest chapter in recent human history – and shine a light on a hero whose actions offer an enduring message about the difference one man can make.

At a time when the number of survivors and saviours are becoming fewer every day, we hoped such a rare honour will be another way to keep the memory alive for decades to come.

Justin Cohen holding a large poster of the stamp of Sir Nicholas Winton at Maidenhead station, where he lived.

From the start, it was always a very personal campaign for me as my grandma, Marion Marston, was one of the 10,000 unaccompanied children who found refuge in the UK on the Kindertransport – though in her case from Germany rather than Czechoslovakia from where Sir Nicholas performed his life-saving operation. I too wouldn’t be here today if not for the Kindertransport and Britain’s welcoming embrace.

It became all the more personal for after she passed away at the start of this year, a few months after the Royal Mail announced they would heed the call of 106,000 people who backed the campaign. We had spoken about the successful petition and during the shiva, I found my front page story announcing our victory towards the top of a small pile of articles she kept.

It was for me a particularly moving moment but not a surprising one. The importance she placed on her family knowing about her experiences – of being separated from her parents as a teenager and arriving alone in a foreign land – was always clear.

Sir Nicholas Winton’s stamp.
Sir Nicholas Winton’s stamp.

Over recent weeks, I’ve jumped at every chance to highlight her experiences and to do my small part to keep the memory of those dark day alive; including chairing a Q and A session with a group of survivors at JW3’s young professionals social action forum. So much responsibility now rests with our generation and I will continue to do all I can – I am privileged that my work affords me this opportunity.

The release of this stamp offers another, unique chance for the Jewish News – together with the Royal Mail, the Holocaust Educational Trust and 106,000 people who backed the campaign – to bring the stories and lessons of the Shoah to a wide audience. I wish I could have taken a copy of the stamp to my grandma this week but it’s a great comfort to know how delighted she would be.

About the Author
Justin Cohen is News Editor of the Jewish News.
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