On January 17th 2005, after six decades of having been arrested and gone missing by the Soviet Army, several acts, organized and sponsored by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, were celebrated all over the world, to remember the Swedish Diplomat, savior of thousands of lives during the Holocaust.
In New York, a full house performance of the musical ”Wallenberg”, based on the true story of the Swedish diplomat, was presented by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation to commemorate the 60th anniversary of his disappearance. Wallenberg, who was sent to Hungary by the U.S., saved 100,000 lives during the Holocaust. He was captured on January 17th 1945, never to be seen again.
More than 200 people gathered at the JCC Manhattan to pay tribute to Raoul Wallenberg. Among them Mayor Bloomberg’s sister, Marjorie Bloomberg Tiven, the New York City Commissioner for the Commission for the United Nations, Consular Corps and Protocol and representatives of Hungary, Switzerland, Germany, and Italy, among other countries.
Ambassador Kjnell Anneling, Consul General of Sweden in New York, addressed the audience and holocaust survivors Judith Saly and Vera Goodking, both saved through Wallenberg’s actions, narrated their personal stories and remembered their encounters with the Swedish diplomat.
During the ceremony, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation launched an international campaign to obtain 100,000 signatures, which will be presented to United Nations’ Secretary General, urging the solution of one of the most controversial and unresolved cases in history of humankind. The 100,000 names directly respond to the 100,000 individuals Wallenberg saved during the Holocaust. U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos and his wife, Annette, who were extricated from the jaws of Nazism by Raoul Wallenberg, head the signature campaign list.
The musical ”Wallenberg” is written by Laurence Holzman and Felicia Needleman, with music by Benjamin Rosenbluth, and directed by Annette Jolles. The cast is headed by Thom Christopher Warren (currently appearing on Broadway in The Lion King) in the title role; Michele Ragusa as the Baroness Elisabeth Kemeny, Michael Greenwood as Adolf Eichmann, and Broadway veteran Alice Evans as Raoul’s mother Maj Wallenberg von Dardel. The musical takes the audience through the general story of Raoul Wallenberg’s 6-month stay in Budapest, beginning with Raoul’s decision to take on the daunting mission (”Do I Really Have a Choice?”), and end with the finale, ”A Million Tomorrows,” which focuses on the those who survived as a result of his heroic efforts.
In Miami, on Sunday, January 13th, radio station Shalom Israel dedicated a program to Raoul Wallenberg. Host Aron Glantz was accompanied by journalist Jaime Dromi and by José Weiss, saved by Wallenberg.
A tribute to Wallenberg was paid at the monument which remembers him in Tel Aviv. Among the attendants were Malkiel Tenenbaum and Mario Ablin, Vicepresidents of the IRWF, and Max Grunberg, President of the Raoul Wallenberg Honorary Committee of Israel, who read to the audience a moving biographical sketch of the Swedish Diplomat.
Gabriela and Daniela Sykora whose grandfather, Joel Sykora, was saved by Wallenberg, also took part in the event. Sixty flowers, one for each passed year of the disappearance of the ”Hero without a Grave”, were placed by the little Yeshaya Sykora, grandson of Joel.
On January 17th, the International Day of the Savior was celebrated in Jerusalem. The program included film shows, debates and readings at the Merkaz Hatarbuyot Theater. At Eliat, the Center of the Memory and Study of the Holocaust, Jad Bamidbar, prepared a special program in order to teach Raoul Wallenberg’s heroic deeds to students.
On Monday morning, January 17th, a large audience gathered at the Wallenberg’s statue to listen to the words of Linnea Arvidsson, the Chargé d’Affaires of the Swedish Embassy in Argentina. Tomás Kertesz and Laszlo Ladanyi, saved by Wallenberg in 1944, laid bouquets while other people laid dozens of carnations. German Ambassador, Rolf Schumacher; Spanish Ambassador, Carmelo Angulo Barturén; Austrian Ambassador, Alexandru Micula; Austrian Ambassador, Gudrum Graf; Swiss Ambassador, Daniel von Muralt; Secretary of the Holland Embassy, Reneko Elema; Chargé D’affaires of the Hungarian Embassy, Zoltan Bács; Counselor of Uruguay, Daniel Castillos; Amiel Sandrine and Jean Marie Cabrieres members of the French Embassy; Norberto Laporta, Legislator of Buenos Aires; Valery Malykh, member of the Russian House; Uki Goñi, investigator and the author of ” The Real Odessa”; Sergio Widder, Executive Director of the Wiesenthal Center in Buenos Aires and Great Rabbi Salomón Ben Hamú, attended the ceremony.
Furthermore, the Asociación Comunidad Israelita – Sefaradí (Abudat Todim) of Buenos Aires, remembered Raoul Wallenberg on Saturday, January 15th, after the reading of the Torah by Rabbi Aarón Benshimon.
On January 16th 2005 the Hungarian Wallenberg Association organized a celebration in the New Holocaust Museum. The speakers were Dr. Katalin Szili and Louise von Dardel, Wallenberg’s niece. Pupils of the High School Raoul Wallenberg and the Goldmark Choir presented an artistic show. On January 17th commemorative acts were celebrated at the Austrian Embassy; in the same spot were Wallenberg and his chauffer, Vilmos Langfelder, was arrested and in the Wallenberg Street.
Charlotte Grunberg, the General Director of the ORT School in Uruguay, laid flowers at the monument which remembers Wallenberg.
Samuel Tenembaum, the IRWF correspondent in China, held a working meeting with the Swedish Ambassador.
On January 17th, Archbishop Hutchison, Primate of the Anglican Church in Canada, delivered a speech during an event sponsored by the Swedish Embassy in Canada.
A moving a tribute was paid to Raoul Wallenberg in St. Kilda City Council. The meeting was presided by Mayor of Port Phillip and by Dr. Frank Vajda.
The promoters of the inauguration of the Wallenberg monument, unveiled in November 2004, met to say a prayer for the Swedish Diplomat.