August 22, 2013

27 August 2013: Celebrating the life and legacy of Raoul Wallenberg

Sweden has instituted an official Raoul Wallenberg Day which will be commemorated annually on every August 27th, starting this year.

In 2012, coinciding with the 100th birthday of the Swedish hero, the Swedish Government created a special entity which coordinated all the commemorative events worldwide. The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF) had the honor and privilege to cooperate with this organization in several activities.

Earlier this year, a number of personalities, including former Prime Ministers Goran Persson and Thorbjorn Falldin, as well as Raoul’s own sister, Nina Lagergren and sister-in-law, Matti von Dardel, together with high-profile figures from Swedish politics and cultural sector have backed a proposal to name Stockholm’s main airport after Raoul Wallenberg, as an important signal against anti-Semitism and antiracism, both in Sweden and worldwide.

The IRWF, amongst whose members are more than 300 heads of state, Nobel Prize laureates and even Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (better known today as Pope Francis)  not only supports this worthy initiative but to a certain extent we feel a humble sense of  having pioneered the way.

In 2012 the IRWF commissioned two busts of the Swedish diplomat which were deployed at the Ezeiza International Airport (Buenos Aires, Argentina), which hosted more than 8.8 million passengers during 2012, and at the Punta del Este International Airport (Uruguay). No other airport in the world has ever paid such a tribute to this great rescuer.

On August 2012, at the United Nations building in New York, the IRWF announced a reward of 500.000 Euros for any person or entity that can provide solid verifiable information on the whereabouts of Wallenberg and his chauffeur, Vilmos Langfelder. The announcement was made by Eduardo Eurnekian and Baruch Tenembaum, Chairman and Founder of the IRWF, at a meeting with UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon and his Deputy, Jan Eliasson.

Moreover, as part of the celebrations President Barack Obama became the first US President to issue a televised address devoted entirely to Raoul Wallenberg. This unprecedented gesture has served to elevate the recognition of righteous humanitarian action, and sets an example to be embraced with good will by other world leaders. The video may be watched at:

A second and remarkable televised address was made this year by former Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. Full video at:

The fact that Wallenberg’s fate is still shrouded in mystery is the direct responsibility of the Russian authorities that are thwarting a full and unfettered access to the KGB archives.

The IRWF is proud to have consistently addressed this issue as well, through various campaigns, letters to world leaders and several petitions to President Vladimir Putin among which it is worth mentioning a global campaign that has collected so far tens of thousands of signatures from all corners of the globe.

The IRWF urges the Swedish government to step-up the pressure on the Russian authorities in order to resolve this mystery. If Raoul Wallenberg is dead, he deserves to be buried next to his parents. It seems that we could not save his life, but we should at least save his memory.