the past few days I have been informed of the projected construction
of a monument to the Righteous Among the Nations in front of the
River Plate river in Buenos Aires. Proposed by the International
Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, it consists of a suspended concrete
platform that points like an arrow towards Jerusalem. Under it
we find an ecumenical chapel. The 15,670 names of the people who
silently fought against the Shoah are going to be engraved on
one of its concrete walls. The triangula structure as a whole,
with its man-made coastline, penetrates the solemn and powerful
course of the river.
believe that this monument, the first of its type in the world,
perfectly sums up the life of Raoul Wallenberg and those who,
like him, make us recall that ethics and dignity should never
be abdicated to power: there, on the plaque raised towards the
heavens, we find the elevation of those, who with much danger
and sacrifice, managed to go above everyday interests and ponder
the interests of humanity as a whole. The river, challenging and
uncertain, looks like that threatening power that we must face
if we wish for the triumph of reason over cruelty. This is the
line between the powers of compassion and the forces of hate.
Over this frontline, located with unparallel precision, is a place
for ingathering and solidarity. A place where all the creeds can
meet. I believe that there, at that conjunction, the exemplary
lives of the Righteous Among the Nations will be adequately represented.
works invite us to alway remember that we should never let good
be silenced. Edmund Burke said, "All that is needed for evil to
triumph is that good men do nothing." Raoul Wallenberg saved 60,000
lives in Hungary, but, had there been other who did the same,
had they not closed their eyes to the barbarianism, the history
of the twentieth century and the dimensions of suffering would
have been different.
is for this reason that the works of art in New York, London,
and Buenos Aires or the educational projects undertaken by the
International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation in Argentina under the
leadership of Baruch Tenembaum, press us to never lose sight of
justice and compassion. This is a task that no one, much less
Heads of State, should abandon to Providence. All men should remain
active, organized and disposed to risk themselves when it comes
to preserving integrity and sympathy. Without them, not only politics,
but rather life itself loses meaning.
all this in mind, I have no choice but to whole-heartedly integrate
myself, in my position as an Honorary Member, to the Foundation’s
initiatives, lauding the work of its members and congratulating
the winners of the "Raoul Wallenberg 2000" Award, businessman
Oscar Vicente and Ambassador Peter Landelius, for preserving,through
their dedicated hard work, the memory of one of the greatest heroes
of the past century.
immense sadness, philosopher Theodor Adorno said that after Auschwitz
it was impossible to think. I believe that the task now is to
maintain our thoughts and hearts alert so that Auschwitz, and
all the other holocausts that ail our planet, should simply remain
a bad memory and never again threaten us as an impending reality.
on your work and may God accompany us.
Andrés Pastrana Arango
President of the Republic of Colombia