January 23, 2004

Editorial: Wallenberg, that hero without a grave


A new anniversary of the disappearance of the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who, between 1944 and 1945, saved the lives of tens of thousands Jews during World War II, took place last Saturday.

If the Holocaust represents one the most infamous moments in the history of humanity, with the extermination of six million people, it is also important to recognize that the heroism of those who risked their lives to impede it represents a luminous contrast to that sinister chapter of world history. Wallenberg is probably the utmost example that represents all those known and unknown heroes.

Remembering him in this anniversary goes beyond a simple commemoration. In a moment when our world knows, once again, the bitter taste of wars and their most devastating consequences: the deaths of thousands of innocent victims and the suffering of the prisoners, talking about Wallenberg and praising his passionate, unlimited devotion, conveys a message to new generations. ”One person decided to do good can make the difference, even in the most adverse conditions” said Baruch Tenembaum, President of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.

Argentina has also recognized this emblematic figure. In 1998 a statue honoring Wallenberg was placed at the corner of Figueroa Alcorta Ave. and Austria St., in Buenos Aires. It is a replica of the London statue made by British sculptor Philip Jackson in 1997 and, it must be said, was vandalized several times by anonymous perpetrators.

It is still unknown whether Wallenberg is alive. He was arrested on January 17th 1945, when the Soviet troops liberated Budapest from the Nazi yoke, and was never seen again; he is a hero without a grave. For this reason, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation will initiate a campaign requesting the Russian authorities to inform the world about the destiny of the Swedish diplomat.

The Wallenberg Foundation has the support of more than sixty heads of state, thirty Nobel Prize laureates and Wallenberg’s relatives such as his sister, Nina Lagergren, and his niece Nane Annan, wife of the United Nations’ Secretary General.

Wallenberg was armed only with his diplomatic immunity, a weak shield against the Nazi merciless regime. Remembering the heroic deeds of this man is like bringing him to life with all his grandeur. Many Wallenbergs are still needed.