Raoul Wallenberg: A hero for all times

August 4th, 2002 marks the 90th anniversary of Raoul Wallenberg´s birthday, saviour of tens of thousands of people, mostly Jewish, persecuted by the Nazis in Hungary during the Second World War. He disappeared after having been arrested by the Soviet Army on January 17th, 1945. His whereabouts still remain a mystery.

In a world with no values, the achievements of this young architect who became a diplomat, member of one of the most prominent families in his country, stands out due to his nobility. He was a protestant, but he voluntarily entered the hell of war to save Jews. His country was neutral, but in spite of that, he decided to face the Nazi henchman Adolph Eichmnan, who was in charge of deporting to Auschwitz as many people as possible. He was an aristocrat, but he gave his life to save those of tens of thousands of men and women from social backgrounds totally unlike his own.

On the fifty-seven anniversary of his disappearance, Raoul Wallenberg, the man, is much more than the first ”disappeared” person of the twentieth century. He is an example for the present world.

Everyday, this tireless new millennium shows us that there are conflicts among the different nations, societies and cultures. Everyday, hundreds of cases of discrimination, persecution and intolerance are registered, which remind us how little we have learnt from our past mistakes and horrors.

Within these painful realities it is possible for us to make an example out of Raoul Wallenberg and out of many other thousands who, like him, risked their lives to save other people.

In the presentations that the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation carries out within the educational program ”Wallenberg at School”, students constantly remind us that it is possible to defend these most sacred values. From the young man who protects a stranger who is attacked for the simple fact that he is wearing a T-shirt belonging to another soccer team, or he who stands alongside a person who is being discriminated due to his clothing or hairstyle. For these people, Wallenberg is an example well worth being emulated. As was clearly seen after the terrorist attacks against the Israel Embassy and the AMIA Jewish centre in Argentina or following the September 11th attack in the US, there are many people willing to fight against apathy and indifference.

The irony is that there are people who think that we live in a world without values.

* Nicholas Tozer, journalist and researcher. Executive Council The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation