The Swedish ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain, Lars Grundberg, his wife Gunnel Grundberg, and Baruch Tenembaum, founder of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, were the hosts at the presentation which took place in Madrid on December 9th 2002 at the residence of the head of the Swedish diplomatic mission.
Before a numerous and prestigious audience, the 2002 Raoul Wallenberg Award were presented by historian José Ignacio García Hamilton. The awards went to two distinguished members of world diplomacy: Israeli ambassador to Spain, Herzl Inbar and Don Gustavo Manuel de Arístegui y San Román, spokesman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Spanish Chamber of Deputies.
Argentinean historian and writer José Ignacio García Hamilton presented the awards before the audience. Among those present at the ceremony were Prince Konstantin Saxe-Coburg, grandson of King Boris, last monarch of Bulgaria and son of Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha, current Prime Minister of Bulgaria.
In statement from Buenos Aires Dr. Natalio Wengrower, vice-president of the IRWF, ”The IRWF decided to create this award to stimulate all people of good will who have demonstrated through their work an unwavering commitment to upholding the humanitarian values which Raoul Wallenberg stands for,” he pointed out.
The International Angelo Roncalli Committee – which is an initiative of the IRWF with the aim of distinguishing the role of the man who was to later become Pope John XXIII when he was Apostolic Delegate in Istanbul in 1944 – was singled out for special recognition. Thanks to the solidarity and bravery of the future Pontiff thousands of Jews avoided a certain death at the hands of the Nazi forces.
According to research carried out by the renowned historian Mordechai Arbell, in Bulgaria Roncalli told Queen Joanna about the imminent deportation of Jews to the extermination camps. It is well known that the Bulgarian Jewish community was the only one in Europe to be preserved intact from Nazi persecution thanks to King Boris’s firm attitude.
The imminent beginning of activities of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation in Spain is to be supported by Mr. Luis Gil Alonso, a prestigious Spanish citizen who offered his services for this mission. Towards the end of the ceremony Gil Alonso and Konstantin Saxe-Coburg shared the stage with the awardees (see photo left).
Greetings from the following countries were received: Argentina, Australia, Poland, the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Venezuela, Portugal, Vatican City, Cyprus, South Africa, Morocco, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium and England, among other countries.
Grounds of the Raoul Wallenberg Award
The Raoul Wallenberg Award has been established with the aim of recognising those people who for the excellency of their work and actions deserve to be associated with the distinguished name that this award carries. The IRWF decided to create this award in recognition of the exemplary conduct of supportive individuals, who demonstrated rectitude in their conduct and outstanding performance in their respective occupations as well as continuous and careful support of NGO’s. The award is presented for the second time in the year 2002 to stimulate all the people of good will with a message of hope.