Sir Nicholas Winton honored by Czech Republic

The stockbroker who saved 669 Czech children from the Nazis before WWII is awarded the Czech Republic's highest honor at the age of 105

Sir Winton Marsalis awarded the Order of the White Lion
Czech Republic's President Milos Zeman decorates sir Nicholas Winton with the highest Czech Republic's decoration, The Order of the White Lion in Prague, Czech Republic.
Petr David Josek, AP

At a ceremony in Prague on Tuesday, Sir Nicholas Winton was awarded the Czech Republic's highest honor -- the Order of the White Lion.

Winton, now 105 years old, was recognized by Czech president Milos Zeman for helping save 669 Czech children -- most of them Jewish -- from the Nazis on the eve of WWII.

"It is so rare and so wonderful when a man who never gave a damn about honors gets one anyway," Bob Simon tells 60 Minutes Overtime.

As Simon reported last April, almost 50 years passed before Winton spoke about what he'd done. Until that point, the children knew nothing about who saved them or how.

With the help of co-producer Vanessa Fica, producer Harry Radliffe tracked down several of the children Winton saved, including 14-year-old Alice Eberstark. Now in her late 80s, Eberstark lives in Bethesda, Md.

At one point during her interview, Eberstark showed the 60 Minutes team several things her parents gave her just before she left on Winton's "kindertransport" with her two sisters. Some of the items were made by her mother, including an embroidered nightgown.

Just weeks after the story aired, a new discovery was made. An archivist at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. found an original letter Winton had written to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, describing the plight of the Czech children, and asking that America grant them refugee status.

The U.S. officially denied Winton's request in a letter, which he kept in his personal scrapbook. Winton wasn't discouraged and went on to save 669 children by organizing rescue missions from Czechoslovakia to London.

"I think stories that show that one person can make a difference are worth telling," Radliffe told 60 Minutes Overtime. "Here's a guy who didn't have to get involved, who got involved, and look at what happened. The number of people who are alive today ... is extraordinary."