Clouds of dust spring from old crevices as Grete Winton treads the creaky floorboards of the attic in her home in Maidenhead, England. In the gloom her eyes fix on a stack of yellowed papers in the corner. Casting her gaze over the contents of the documents – which detail hundreds of names, personal details and photographs – she uncovers a secret hidden by her husband for half a century.
Her husband Nicholas Wertheimer was born in London in 1909. His parents, Rudolph and Barbara, were of German-Jewish descent but converted to Christianity in order to assimilate into British society. They even changed their family name to Winton in the process.
The newly christened Nicholas Winton, then, was sent to the independent Stowe School in Buckinghamshire. He later embarked on a career in international banking, and – after stints of employment in Hamburg, Berlin and Paris – Winton returned to the U.K. a fluent speaker of French and German.