On Monday, August 4th., 2003, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation held in Tel Aviv a ceremony to commemorate the 91st anniversary of the birth of the Swedish hero. The homage took place at the site of his statue, a work of Hungarian sculptor Imre Varga, located at the intersection of Habarzel and Wallenberg streets of that city.
The sizable audience included the presence of the Ambassadors to Israel of Sweden, Austria and Guatemala, as well as that of the First Secretary of the Embassy of Hungary in that country.
Mr Daniel Rainer, member of the Executive Board of the IRWF, hosted the moving ceremony in which the Swedish Ambassador to Israel, Mr Robert Rydberg, and Professor Jaime Kreiner, also a member of the IRWF, delivered their speeches.
Mr Rainer read endorsement letters, especially composed for the ocassion by the Israeli Minister of Justice, Mr Yosseff Tommy Lapid, -who together with his mother was saved by Raoul Wallenberg-, and by Ms Louise Von Dardel, niece of the diplomat who disappeared in 1945.
In a emotive culmination, delegations of the IRWF, the survivors, as well as youngsters from the Youth Movement Hanoar Haoved v’Halomed, Ken Borochov, Givatayim, and the Hadassim Boarding School, placed flowers at the statue.
Speech of Ambassador Robert Rydberg
Allow me first of all to convey my sincere thanks to the organizers of this ceremony, and to each and everyone participating here today to commemorate the 91st birthday of Raoul Wallenberg.
This is an important occasion. We are again reminded of the horrors of Nazi Europe, the crimes committed against Jews and non-Jews, ultimately the Holocaust. We are also reminded of the over 4 decades it took after 1945 for Central and Europe to be free from the oppressive regimes that captured, held and lied about the fate of Raoul Wallenberg. Most importantly, we are through Wallenberg reminded that individual courage and morale strength counts and can make a difference.
Let us therefore pledge to make use of this occasion to recommit ourselves to the defence of freedom, democracy and human dignity – values for which Raoul Wallenberg lived, and for which he paid such a high price. Let us in particular pledge to ensure that the Holocaust is never forgotten, so that it may never be repeated. Sweden will continue fully to play its part in international efforts to this end.