The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation celebrated Raoul Wallenberg’s 94th birthday with a series of activities around the world. In New York, two different events were planed to commemorate such a special occasion.
On Friday August 4th, friends and volunteers of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation gathered to place flowers at the Hope monument. Some of the visitors included Agnes Adachi, a woman saved by Wallenberg; Lars Ostling and Helen Daun Rosengren, Consul for Economic and Commercial Affairs and Information Officer of the Consulate of Sweden; as well as Baruch Tenembaum and Elin Borg, the founder and a Swedish volunteer of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, among many others.
The monument, dedicated to Raoul Wallenberg, is located across from the United Nations on First Avenue and 47th Street, in New York. Five columns of black diabase mined from the Swedish bed-rock are craved with the Swedish diplomat’s quotes and heroic deeds. The paving stones that surround the monument were taken from the Budapest Jewish ghetto that Wallenberg saved from annihilation.
On Sunday, August 6th, a celebration took place in Central Park where children and parents engaged in activities ranging from face painting, arts and crafts, storytelling, and other games that pertain to Raoul Wallenberg. One of the highlights was at the hand printing station, where young children imprinted their hands on a white canvas endorsing the Foundation’s campaign ”Let’s Bring Raoul Wallenberg Home!” The canvas is a symbol for all those who hope the mystery surrounding Wallenberg’s fate will be solved, bringing him back to his family.
A group of volunteers, attracted by the meaningful event, work on the organization and implementation of the activities, including the folk duo Sour Grapes, who performed their original songs giving a lively atmosphere to the afternoon. The event attracted a variety of people including Swedish priest Mikael Mogren and Swedish Rabbi Jeremy Gerber, as well as Holocaust survivors and families.
Raoul Wallenberg, who rescued 100,000 Jews from deportation to Nazi concentration camps during World War II by issuing protective passports and creating safe houses, was taken into Russian custody on January 17, 1945.His fate remains a mystery to this day.
Let this be the last year Wallenberg’s birthday is celebrated while he is still missing.