Baruch Tenembaum’s speech before the President of Germany, Johannes Rau

Mister President,

In your letter answering our invitation on naming you an Honorary Member, you explained to us that by constitutional reasons you are not allowed to be a member of a private foundation, and that you honor us with your praise to the action developed by our institution. I am here to thank you for offering to help us with everything within your means and to tell you the following:

I am aware that it is a very special moment for our organization, and for me to find myself before the president, but especially the personality whose trajectory is well known.

There are things in life that are more important than life itself. In accordance to what the voice of our forefathers tells us to do, we must look for TRUTH and JUSTICE.

Your historic declaration before the Israeli Parliament in which you had the strength and courage to plead for forgiveness, is an example for all humankind. It is obvious that nobody can grant forgiveness, but the action, the intention, and the dynamic manifested are examples for our children; and it is the search of TRUTH. Our foundation follows the same track. We are looking forward to know the TRUTH- the truth of the hero Raoul Wallenberg.

Ours is an interfaith institution, and it has a different perspective to offer our children- a model of what man has to be and has to do. Thirty Heads of State already accompany us in the Wallenberg Foundation. Where there are shadows there are lights, and even though it is important not to forget the shadows, we have decided to dedicate to the exceptions that constitute the lights. We are dedicated to the memory of Raoul Wallenberg, a protestant who saved thousands of Jews assuring that there are more important things in life than life itself: the Truth.

You know what we have done and what we are doing. Following the same path, we are in the process of preparing an international campaign for the world to know what another person did, this time a catholic, also a diplomat, Nuncio Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, who later became Pope John XXIII. Today we present you the first two reports prepared by a special commission of historians and scholars. Allow me to tell you, Mister President, that the Vatican’s State Secretary, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, has publicly expressed in New York his surprise and admiration by this initiative of the spirit commenced by us, always in the search of Truth. Wallenberg and Roncalli are exceptions; they are lights illuminating the long nights in which the martyrs of humankind go on forever. Roncalli issued baptismal certificates to save Jewish children.

This and other remarkable facts will be part of the final report to be presented soon. I have the honor to tell you, Mister President, that following the path of Wallenberg and Roncalli, a few moths ago we initiated a search for German Angels, people who risked their lives to save those of others during the World War II. What a surprise it was when it was revealed that hundreds enlarge the list of what the world does not know: German-Catholics, protestants, believers, agnostics- that saved their Jewish brothers and sisters, many paying with their own lives for their acts of heroism.

We must follow that track of TRUTH that the world knows and will leave their children this example: German angels (´Germangels´). In the near future, when this job of producing and registering the list of Germans who saved human beings during the Shoa is over, we wish to launch an international campaign that will include, as in the Wallenberg’s case, worthy coverage useful to new generations as a legacy through exhibitions, educational programs, films, seminars, and courses, all in different languages.

Mister President: in the Old Testament, there is a dialogue in the Book of Genesis, in which the patriarch Abraham talks to the Creator trying to persuade him not to destroy the city of Sodom. The Creator then said that if there were only fifty upright people, the destruction of all the inhabitants would be avoided. Then, this number was becoming smaller and smaller because Abraham was looking for any light in the depth of shadows but he could not find it. He was looking for the exception and he did not find it. We all know the way in which this episode ended. With all modesty and humility we have looked for such a dramatic chapter of history and luckily we have found human beings that are good as an example and as a model for our children. This is the TRUTH.

And today we are here to tell you, Mister President Johannes Rau, that we all wish to collaborate in this sense and we want you to stay with us in everything that the Constitution of your country allows you to. Wouldn’t it allow you to be the Honorary President of this movement that we are initiating dedicated to exalt the German angels, those lights that illuminated our lives? We have decided to renew an old tradition about which we have talked to the Vatican authorities and we want to share it with you. Not only in Wallenberg’s case as well as Roncalli’s and the hundreds of German angels, we will address to all the communities and religions of the world without exception to ask them to consider the possibility of naming newborn babies with the names of the saving angels. This project, which undoubtedly will produce deep emotions, will have to be adopted by Christians during baptism, Jewish males during circumcision, and every religion according to its rites and traditions. Of course we have consulted the religious authorities and the answer was of enthusiasm and total approval.

Daughters and sons with names of heroes and angels.

Baruch Tenembaum