August 17, 2019

Kindertransport Hero Honored on His 100th Birthday

What do you say to the man who saved your life, mused Dave Lux, when he met the Briton who, 70 years earlier, had single-handedly spirited him and 668 other Jewish children out of German-occupied Czechoslovakia.

Lux, born Isidor Pinkasovich in a small town near Bratislava, was not yet 6 when Nazi armies took over his native country in the run-up to World War II.

His parents, who later perished in Auschwitz, made the heart-breaking decision to send their young son and his older brother Herman to England aboard a Kindertransport.

Only much later did Lux learn that the transport had been organized by one man, a young London stockbroker named Nicholas Winton.

Winton, now Sir Nicholas, was born into a German Jewish family that had immigrated to England in 1907. Although not previously involved in Jewish causes, he decided in 1938 to cancel a ski vacation in Switzerland and instead go to Prague.

In an amazing feat of organization and with his hotel room as headquarters, Winton arranged transportation for nearly 700 children, obtained British immigration visas, raised money and found foster homes for the young refugees.

Lux, now 76 and a Northridge resident, still vividly remembers saying goodbye to his grief-stricken mother at the Prague train station, then traveling to Holland, crossing the English Channel and arriving at London’s Liverpool Street station, to be welcomed by Winton.

Isidor and Herman Pinkasovich were assigned to the Jewish Boys’ Home in the historic cathedral town of Ely, near Cambridge. There they spent the next 10 years, including World War II, and were quickly nicknamed the Two Pinkys.

In 1949, the two brothers made aliyah and worked on a kibbutz near Be’er Sheva. While his brother remained in Israel, Isidor traveled to the United States at the invitation of relatives in Cleveland, met a girl and got married.

The newlyweds spent their honeymoon in Los Angeles, liked the weather and decided to settle down. Lux initially worked in real estate but soon established his own graphic reproduction shop and fathered three children.

His past came rushing back three months ago when he returned for an elaborate reunion at the same London train station where he had arrived seven decades earlier, and to recall two anniversaries.

One was the 100th birthday of Winton, seated in a wheelchair but otherwise hale and hearty, who was quickly surrounded by the former refugee children.

The other occasion was more somber, recalling the fate of the last Winton train, whose children never reached their destination with the outbreak of World War II.

Lux, his fellow survivors and their descendants had a chance to thank “Nicky,” augmented by others who arrived from Prague aboard one of the original 1939 trains.

They joined in dedicating a statue of Winton at the train station, then were taken by double-decker buses to the Czech embassy for a major celebration.

The country’s media covered the reunion and recalled the feats of the man they dubbed “the British Schindler.”

Lux speaks regularly at the Museum of Tolerance to groups of children, law enforcement officers and others, making certain that his own story, and the deeds of his rescuer, will not be forgotten.