Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu personally eulogized Nicholas Winton, who passed away on Wednesday at the ripe old age of 106 and was dubbed the "British Schindler" for his work saving hundreds of Jewish children during the Holocaust.
"The Jewish people and the State of Israel owe an eternal debt to Nicholas Winton who singlehandedly saved hundreds of Jewish children from the Nazis," Netanyahu said in remarks released on Thursday.
"In a world plagued by evil and indifference, Winton dedicated himself to saving the innocent and the defenseless. His exceptional moral leadership serves as an example to all humanity."
Netanyahu concluded, saying, "Nicholas Winton will forever be remembered by us with the deepest admiration and gratitude. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
President Reuven Rivlin also praised Winton on Thursday, saying, "just as the Holocaust will forever remain etched in the Jewish consciousness, so too the names of those who risked their own lives to save Jews, and especially Jewish children will remain in our memory as heroes of those darkest of times."
"Sir Nicholas Winton was a man who valued human life above all else, and there are those who are alive today as a testament to his dedication and sacrifice. May his memory be blessed."
Winton was born in London in 1909 to German-Jewish parents, but raised as a Christian. In 1938, Winton traveled to Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia – which split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993 – as a young employee of the London Stock Exchange.
There he organized trains that transported some 669 children, most of them Jews, to Britain in 1939, saving them from concentration camps and near-certain death.
He also ensured that the children would be taken care of by advertising for foster homes, lobbying for residency permits, and even directly persuading the Germans to let them go.
Winton kept quiet about his heroic efforts for 50 years until his wife found evidence of it in their attic, after which he was knighted.