Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who rescued hundreds of Jews from Hungary during World War II was honored today in an event at New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.
Reports say the event was spearheaded to examine the diplomat’s mysterious disappearance at the end of World War II and his legacy as well.
Senior United Nations officials paid tribute to the life and legacy of Raoul Wallenberg by highlighting the extraordinary humanitarian actions of the Swedish diplomat.
Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson says Raoul Wallenberg was a young diplomat who can be admired for ingenuity and quick action saving Jewish lives in Budapest, 1944.
The event was co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Hungary and Sweden to the United Nations and the museum. UN Department of Public Information’s (DPI) Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme organized the events.
“Wallenberg lived up in reality to the unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.” -Mr. Eliasson
Addressing the same gathering, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, spoke of the example the Swedish diplomat had set for others.
“Raoul Wallenberg was willing to fight for what he knew to be right – to defend the lives and dignity of fellow human beings – at any cost.” – Mr. Launsky-Tieffenthal
He stressed that Raoul Wallenberg’s actions were guided by his compassion for others.
“It is my hope that his shining example will also guide me in my life.” -Mr. Launsky-Tieffenthal
The event was one of many activities organized by the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme to encourage education about and remembrance of the Holocaust to help prevent future acts of genocide.
Raoul Wallenberg was born 100 years ago into a family of great wealth and influence. He was the first secretary at the Swedish Legation in Budapest in the summer of 1944. Without concern for his own safety, he worked tirelessly to save thousands from certain death at the hands of the Nazis.
By the summer of 1944, more than 400,000 Jewish Hungarians had been put in trains and sent away to their deaths.
Wallenberg began issuing Swedish “protective passports” to the remaining population of Jewish Hungarians. His resourcefulness to provide protection to as many Jews as possible are credited with saving the lives of some 100,000 people.
As a result of his heroic deed, at Israel’s Holocaust memorial site, Yad Vashem, people can find the trees planted along the Avenue of the Righteous not only Raoul Wallenberg’s tree, but also the trees of 2,000 others, as well as 18,000 names engraved in the walls in remembrance of those who risked their lives to save Jews from the Holocaust.
The world recognizes that Raoul Wallenberg’s mission was an example of American-Swedish cooperation for the common good. His work in Budapest was partly financed by the United States.
In 1981, the United States awarded Wallenberg honorary American citizenship. Wallenberg fought for values cherished in both Sweden and the United States.