Lord Weidenfeld escaped the Holocaust because of Christian charity and is now trying to repay that debt to Syrian and Iraqi Christian refugees who are suffering at the hands of Isis.
In 1938, Lord Weidenfeld arrived a penniless child in Britain, but the important thing was that he was alive. He had escaped Nazi occupied Austria and the fate that awaited him as a Jewish person in a concentration camp. Weidenfeld arrived in Britain by train just a year before the start of WWII, on behalf of the Quakers and other Christian denominations that worked to rescue children from the Nazis. Weidenfeld who is now 95-years-old is incredibly grateful for the risk taken by those who rescued him, and expressed that it is his duty to repay members of the faith that saved his life so many years ago.
“I had a debt to repay. It applies to so many young people who were on the Kindertransports. It was Quakers and other Christian denominations who brought those children to England.”
“It was a very high-minded operation and we Jews should also be thankful and do something for the endangered Christians.”
Weidenfeld – who went on to establish the hugely successful Weidenfeld and Nicolson publishing business in 1948 – has set up the Weidenfeld Safe Havens Fund, which last week successfully flew 150 Syrian Christians to Poland. The fund plans to offer 12 to 18 months of support to help the refugees start a new life, and aims to rescue upwards of 2,000 people.
While Weidenfeld has come under some criticism for not trying to save Muslims as well, he says he wants to replicate the acts of Sir Nicholas Winton, the former British stockbroker whose funding of the Kindertransports program rescued him and 10,000 other Jewish children from Nazi persecution before the start of WWII. Weidenfeld defended his program saying “I can’t save the world, but there is a very specific possibility on the Jewish and Christian side.”