It is with emotion, coupled with a sense of humbleness that I stand here, in the beautiful city of Zagreb, as a recipient of the Order of the Croatian Danica, a distinction bestowed upon great personalities. I’m deeply honored but I am not the final recipient for this distinction belongs to the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation as such.
Ladies and gentlemen, yesterday the 9th of Elul, 24 hours ago, Stanislawa Slawinska, a Polish lady who saved several Jews from the Nazi extermination, including a Jewish woman who is now 94 years old, was finally recognized, 63 yeas after the end of the Second World War.
Next month, in October, we will announce in Budapest, a medal to Karolyna Reszeli, a lady who saved the members of a Jewish family during the War. One of the survivors is alive and well in Australia, but almost no one knows about this miracle.
Both brave ladies who saved Jewish lives are Catholic and in both cases the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation did the research and came up with the findings.
We want people to know that one person can make a difference. We must educate our children so that all of us get to know and remember the Rescuers. All of us have the moral obligation to honor people who help. People who live according to the Biblical teachings – ”Ahavta l’reaja camoja” (”Thy shalt love your neighbor like thyself”)
Croatia has 106 rescuers who had been recognized by Yad Vashem. Out of that number, 47 were women.
We have decided to search and find unknown rescuers. We want to show the world how Croatia saved lives and in order to accomplish this mission we have established a special office headed by experts who will discover rescuers like these two Polish and Hungarian ladies I have mentioned before.
Dear friends, we celebrate the lives of the Croatian nuns, sister Cecilija and Caritas, both from a Catholic convent in Split. These brave nuns had devoted their lives and their love to humanity and they did show that these feelings transcend religious barriers.
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, with the invaluable collaboration of Ambassador Martinec and her staff, has recently opened a special exhibition of Croatian rescuers in Argentina. In this Exhibit, we displayed 39 cases of Croatian Rescuers. We are planning to show the exhibition in other cities.
We will continue our research efforts to unearth and divulge more stories of rescue. Our volunteers who are helping us in Berlin, New York, Buenos Aires and Jerusalem, are doing a remarkable job.
Dear Mr President, by presenting our Foundation with this high distinction, the Croatian Nation is showing that the voices of the rescuers are being heard loud and clear today, more than 60 years later.
On behalf of these brave human beings, I thank you very much.