Now that Paddington, a new film featuring Nicole Kidman, Hugh Bonneville, and Sarah Hawkins has been released in the UK and is coming to the USA in January, Michael Bond, the 88-year-old author of the books has revealed the quasi-Jewish roots of the stories.
As Rachel Shukert wrote in The Tablet,
Bond revealed his inspiration for the kindly bear: the Jewish evacuee children he remembered seeing in the train stations of London during the Kindertransport of the late 1930s. “They all had a label round their neck with their name and address on,” a recent article in The Guardian quotes Bond as saying, “and a little case or package containing all their treasured possessions. So Paddington, in a sense, was a refugee, and I do think that there’s no sadder sight than refugees.”Paddington wasn't really a Jewish bear and his family wasn't persecuted. But when his Aunt Lucy moved into the Home for Retired Bears, he became a stowaway to London with his aunt's handwritten note on his tag. His refugee status resonated with many parents who became attached to the stories of his adventures.
Speaking of the Kindertransport, in 1988 the BBC aired a program that included a surprise encounter of Sir Nicholas Winton, the organizer of the Kindertransport from Czechoslovakia to London, with many of the children, now grown up, that he saved. It's a very moving video, just below the trailer for the new Paddington film
Last October, Sir Nicholas, now 105, was awarded the highest honor of the Czech Republic, the Order of the White Lion, by Czech President Miloš Zeman.
(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS. YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)