Sir Nicholas Winton meets some of the childre
Sir Nicholas Winton meets some of the childreReuters

Sir Nicholas Winton, the man dubbed the "British Schindler" for saving hundreds of Jewish children in Prague from the Nazis before World War II, has died at 106 Wednesday, his family announced. 

Winton passed peacefully in his sleep at Wexham Hospital, his son in-law Stephen Watson told the BBC

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, the Daily Mail revealed Wednesday, by advertising for foster homes, lobbying for residency permits, and even directly persuading the Germans to let them go. He worked tirelessly through the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia (BCRC) to find British families willing to care for the children until they were 17. 

Winton's efforts earned him the nickname "English Schindler" in reference to Oskar Schindler, the German industrialist who rescued hundreds of Polish Jews during the war. He kept quiet about his mission for 50 years until his wife found evidence of it in their attic.

Winton has received several honors for his heroic work; he was knighted in 2003 and was honored in the Czech Republic with the Order of the White Lion last year

In 1988, the BBC also surprised him during the filming of a special documentary - where he met several of the children he had saved. 

The children still call themselves "Nicky's children," according to the Mail, and at least 6,000 people are estimated to have been saved (including children and grandchildren of those he rescued) due to his efforts.