LONDON — George Weidenfeld was barely 18 when Nazi forces occupied his homeland of Austria in 1938. He may not have lived to see his 95th birthday — celebrated this year — if not for the selflessness and generosity of Christians during World War II.
Weidenfeld was one of countless other Jewish youths who were evacuated from Nazi-occupied countries and resettled in England through Christian-led initiatives similar to the famous Kindertransport train program. When he arrived in England, Weidenfeld said Christians fed him, clothed him and supported his resettlement.
Today it seems the tables have turned, as Christian persecution across the globe reaches unprecedented levels. And in an effort to repay some of the generosity he received during World War II, Weidenfeld has launched a new program to rescue persecuted Christians in the Middle East.
The Weidenfeld Safe Havens Fund aims to rescue a projected 2,000 Christians from Syria and Iraq over the next two years.
“I had a debt to repay.” Weidenfeld told The Times of London. “It applies to so many young people who were brought on the Kindertransports. It was the 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.”
The fund sponsored its first rescue just last week, flying 150 Syrian Christians to Poland on a privately chartered plane.
Weidenfeld appears to have been inspired by the late Nicholas Winton, who rescued 669 Jewish children during World War II through his Kindertransport train initiative.