September 10, 2003

Speech by Tom Lantos: ”A tribute to Baruch Tenembaum”

Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to pay tribute to Baruch Tenenbaum, a truly remarkable person. He has, in an extraordinary way, made enormous efforts to promote the life and mission of World War II hero Raoul Wallenberg. As a young Swedish diplomat, Wallenberg was responsible for saving nearly 100,000 Jews in Budapest from the horror of the Holocaust. This brave man disappeared in 1945, last seen going to meet with members of the Soviet army. Though many theories regarding his disappearance abound, the world continues to wait for answers regarding Wallenberg’s fate. Mr. Tenenbaum is one of the most visible leaders in carrying on Raoul Wallenberg’s name. Mr. Speaker, even before Mr. Tenenbaum started to work for Raoul Wallenberg’s cause he had lived an extraordinary life. He was devoted to supporting the Jewish community in Argentina and to creating a deeper understanding between Jews and Catholics worldwide. He was the First General Director of the Argentine-Israeli Cultural Institute and focused the majority of his efforts on educational endeavors. Some of his undertakings included founding the Tarbut School and organizing the first Latin American Bible contest. In addition, he translated Spanish classics and Haskala literature into Hebrew and Yiddish. In 1966, together with writer Jorge Lues Borges, Tenenbaum founded the first interconfessional organization, Casa Argentina en Jerusalem (Argentine House in Jerusalem). This organization has received many distinctions on behalf of the Vatican for its work in promoting ecumenism. Tenenbaum’s outstanding commitment to the Jewish and Catholic communities has earned him accolades and honors from Pope Paul VI and from Monsignor Antonio Caggiano, Cardinal Primate of Argentina. Mr. Tenenbaum and I co-founded the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF) in 1997. Since then, we have worked tirelessly to make Raoul Wallenberg’s story known around the world. Mr. Tenenbaum has personally convinced over 60 heads of states to become members of IRWF. Some members include German Chancellor Gerhard Schro¨ der, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, former U.S. President Gerald Ford, and Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Dalai Lama and Elie Wiesel. Mr. Speaker, I know you will agree that preserving the memory of Raoul Wallenberg is very important. Wallenberg is a truly timeless role model for all generations, representing an ideal sense of selflessness and caring of all people. He taught us about the importance of standing up for the immutable rights of all people and the need to combat evil when it confronts us. Wallenberg will always serve as a reminder of the tremendous difference just one man can make, and keeping his spirit alive means ensuring and preserving the spirit of humanity. In carrying on Raoul Wallenberg’s name, Mr. Tenenbaum has made a tremendous effort in keeping his spirit alive and carrying his message on to future generations. Under the direction of Mr. Tenenbaum, the IRWF has undertaken a number of various endeavors to further the memories of Holocaust heroes, including Raoul Wallenberg. There have been a number of statues raised and countless exhibits displayed around the world as a result of IRWF’s efforts, honoring keepers of humanity during the Holocaust. In addition, Wallenberg has been honored throughout the world with commemorative postage stamps, and a number of streets and schools named in his honor. The IRWF’s goals for these initiatives in honor of Wallenberg and other Holocaust heroes is to stimulate the educational authorities in dozens of countries to teach not only the stories of the Holocaust, but also the stories of the heroes that emerged from the horrors. By educating future generations about the plight of Holocaust heroes like Wallenberg, perhaps they will adopt just a fraction of the humanitarian values these brave men and women held. Mr. Speaker, at the age of 67, Mr. Tenenbaum has never received a salary nor any other financial compensation for his work. He covers nearly all IRWF expenses himself and he devotes all his time to the Raoul Wallenberg cause. I am honored to pay tribute to this extraordinary man and I urge all of my colleagues to join me in congratulating Baruch Tenenbaum for his outstanding achievements. This exceptional person is truly an inspiration to us all. Like the man whose legacy he works tirelessly to preserve, Mr. Tenenbaum is living proof that one man can make a difference.

Hon. Tom Lantos of California in the House of Representatives.