On December 14, 2000, The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation presented the Raoul Wallenberg 2000 Award. This award, which is being offered for the first time, was presented to Oscar Vicente, CEO of Perez Companc Holding and Peter Landelius, Swedish Ambassador to Argentina. This new distinction was created with the purpose of recognizing the exemplary conduct of individuals with rectitude and outstanding performance in their respective occupations as well as their thorough and continuous support of non-governmental organizations.
Nicholas Tozer, journalist and member of the IRWF was the moderator at the event, which was attended by more than two hundred people at the Swedish Ambassador’s residency. Rodolfo Terragno and Mario Ablin, director of the Jerusalem headquarters of the organization, were the speakers.
Oscar Vicente received the award from Walter Schmale, Engineer and Director of Perez Companc Co. and the Apostolic Nuncio of Argentina, Monsignor Santos Abril y Castelló. Ambassador Landelius received the medallion, a bronze piece designed by Argentine artist Norma D’Ippólito. The United States Ambassador to Argentina, James Walsh, handed it to him, accompanied by Grand Rabbi Salomón Ben Hamú.
An unexpected occurrence took place when the Apostolic Nuncio asked to be given the floor and transmitted a special greeting from Pope John Paul II to the IRWF and the awardees. The message was transmitted through a telegram sent by the Secretary of the Vatican State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.
Among the numerous statements received, some stood out, such as those of Rudolph Giuliani, Mayor of New York City; Ehud Barak, the Former Premier of Israel; Nane Annan, Raoul Wallenberg’s niece and the wife of the General Secretary of the United Nations; those of the presidents of Lithuania, Hungary, Latvia and Slovenia. Mohammed VI, King of Morocco, also sent a personal letter of congratulation. The President of Colombia, Andrés Pastrana Arango, mailed a special message.
The IRWF is an NGO founded by Baruch Tenembaum, Natalio Wengrower and Tom Lantos (US Congressman saved by Wallenberg in 1944). Raoul Wallenberg is the Swedish diplomat of Protestant origin who saved the lives of thousands of Hungarian Jews condemned to death by the Nazi Regime in 1944. The Soviet Army kidnapped him in January 1945 and his fate is still unknown.
More than thirty Heads of State from around the world form part of the IRWF membership list. Among its immediate accomplishments we may also cite the building of the ”Monument to the Righteous Among the Nations”, the Nuncio Giusseppe Roncalli Committee and the educational program, ”Diplomacy and the Holocaust”