A British Jew, who was made to flee Nazi-occupied Austria during his childhood, is now funding the evacuation of as many as 2,000 Syrian Christians from the Middle East. George Weidenfeld, a renowned publisher as well as a member of Britain’s House of Lords, explained that his decision to sponsor the rescue mission stems from his sense of indebtedness towards the Quakers and Plymouth Brethren that fed and clothed him while helping him reach Britain in 1938.
To help those Christians who are trying to flee the barbarism of Islamic State, Weidenfeld has started the Weidenfeld Safe Havens Fund that was used last month to support the evacuation of 150 Syrian Christians on a privately chartered aircraft to Poland so they can seek refuge there. This batch of refugees was the first to benefit from Weidenfeld’s resettlement project.
Speaking to the media, the 95-year-old said, “I had a debt to repay. It applies to so many young people who were on the Kindertransports.”
Kindertransports is the German word used to describe the organized shipment of Jewish children, most often by their own parents with the help of religious and secular non-Jewish individuals. This was done to save them from the Holocaust.
After arriving in Britain on a train with just a few shillings to his name, only a year before the beginning of World War II, Lord Weidenfeld decided to launch the Weidenfeld and Nicolson publishing venture 10 years later. He was given the honor of becoming a life peer of Britain’s upper house in 1976. Weidenfeld’s funds aim to offer 12 to 18 months of paid support to the refugees.
Photo Credits: Catholic News Agency