August 1, 2014

The Birth of a Hero

Raoul Wallenberg was born into an aristocratic Swedish banking family on 4 August 1912, and his father died when Raoul was three months old. Raised by his mother and grandfather, he studied architecture, then joined his family’s banking business, and gained experience in a branch of the Holland Bank in Haifa, Palestine, where he first came in contact with Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. Returning to Sweden, where he continued his banking and business career, in 1944, he learned that the Swedish government was looking for an appropriate candidate to work in its embassy in Budapest, Hungary, as a cover for the US-based War Refugee Board. The purpose was to save the remnants of Hungarian Jewry, which at the time was being systematically decimated by the Germans, who had occupied Hungary on March 19, 1944, and their Hungarian collaborators.

On 9 July 2014, Swedish-born diplomat Raoul Wallenberg was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal during a ceremony in the U.S. Congress. The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF) was the driving force behind the initiative to present the prestigious award to the Swedish hero. We hope that this well-merited recognition by the US Congress will raise the awareness to Wallenberg’s legacy and personal fate, and will serve as a catalyst to resolve the mystery of his disappearance in the hands of the Soviets.

The Wallenberg Foundation bestowed upon Mrs. Nina Lagergren a silver medal specially coined by renowned silversmith Carlos Pallarols. Moreover, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation received public recognition by Congressman and Senators for his relentless efforts in promoting the deeds of Wallenberg as well as of other thousands of Holocaust Saviors.

In 2012, Centennial year of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg, President Barack Obama, himself born on 4 August, addressed a video message exclusively dedicated to the “Hero without a Grave” for the first time ever in US history. Wallenberg is one of the few Honorary Citizens of the United States.

Regarding the fate of Wallenberg we consider that he is alive until proven otherwise. The central archives of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) should allow unfettered access to documentation that could shed light into the fate of Wallenberg. The fact that almost 70 years after Wallenberg’s abduction and disappearance the Russians are still reluctant to offer access to vital information is absolutely baffling.

For many years now, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation has stood by Professor Guy von Dardel, a real champion of the cause, as well as by other relatives of Wallenberg in their just quest to secure reliable answers to this tragic affair. Their noble perseverance is a source of inspiration for us.

To this end the Wallenberg Foundation, a global-reach NGO devoted to research, preserve and divulge the legacy of Raoul Wallenberg and of many other saviors, has instituted a 500,000 dollars reward to any person or entity coming forward with reliable information concerning the whereabouts of Wallenberg and his driver, Vilmos Langfelder.

Eduardo Eurnekian
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation