Report of Activities 2001

Wallenberg around the world

An index dedicated to the Second World War hero, Raoul Wallenberg, is now available. It is a remarkable project of encyclopedic profile with the aim of covering all the homages and tributes to Raoul Wallenberg around the world. The first countries which became part of this unprecedented work are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Norway, Poland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, and Uruguay.

Raoul Wallenberg remembered in Budapest

On October 8, 2001 a Raoul Wallenberg commemorative plaque was unveiled (1912 – ?), next to the entry of the Austrian Embassy in Budapest. Wallenberg was kidnapped by Soviet troops at this site on January 17, 1945 after having saved tens of thousands of Jews and other persecuted people condemned to death by Nazism. Among the people who attended the ceremony were Baruch Tenembaum, founder of the IRWF and the president of the Raoul Wallenberg Association in Hungary, Ferenc Orosz. Others present included the daughter of Vilmos Langfelder, Wallenberg’s driver, also kidnapped in 1945 and Dr. Yoav Tenembaum, vice-president of the IRWF as well as numerous ambassadors and government officials.

Angelo Roncalli International Committee

On the 120th anniversary of Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli’s birth, the IRWF distributed and published in English, Spanish and French the conclusions of the investigation looking into the humanitarian actions accomplished by the then Apostolic Delegate (later Pope John XXIII) on behalf of Jews persecuted by the Nazi regime. The investigation, which uncovered several hitherto unknown revelations, was carried out with the collaboration of the renowned intellectuals such as Professor Stanford Shaw, Professor Andre Chouraqui, Rabbi Simón Moguilevsky and Dr Shalom Rosenberg, among others. It will be presented in the year 2002 in Vatican City.

Itinerant Exhibition ”Spared Lives”

Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese diplomat who helped thirty thousand people escape from Nazism, was commemorated with an exhibition held in Buenos Aires on July 26. The Portuguese Embassy in Argentina and the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation presented the exhibition ”Vidas Poupadas” (Spared Lives), a compilation of documents, letters and testimonies from the Diplomatic Historic Archives of the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The renowned writer Marcos Aguinis was the main spokesman at the ceremony.

Rescuing Jews in National Socialist Germany

The IRWF and the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism at the Berlin Technological University, directed by Dr. Wolfgang Benz, launched a worldwide promotion campaign to record the names of German saviors who rescued persecuted people in Germany between the years 1933 and 1945. The aim of the project is to provide a new definition of the concept of ”resistance” as for many Germans the only way of expressing their disobedience towards National Socialism was helping persecuted Jews. The IRWF has published the first chapter of this project on its website.

Worldwide Raoul Wallenberg Schools Campaign

The IRWF has launched an international campaign so that schools around the world can carry the names of Raoul Wallenberg and other Saviors of the Holocaust. The goal of this initiative is to stimulate the educational authorities in dozens of countries. Mrs. Nina Lagergren, Wallenberg’s sister, has given her support to this project. This initiative aims at transmitting to the future generations the humanitarian values of the Swedish diplomat and of many other saviors The campaign was launched using Raoul Wallenberg commemorative stamps on the letters that were posted around the globe.

September 11

The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation expressed its solidarity with the United States of America after the terrorist attacks of September 11.

”Saviors of Humanity” Monument

On August 3, a meeting with the Mayor of the City of Buenos Aires, Anibal Ibarra, was held. Members of the IRWF Board presented an update on the evolution of the project to erect a monument ”Saviors of Humanity”, dedicated to the memory of the thousands of men and women who saved the lives of Jews and other persecuted people during the Holocaust. Architects Nora Vitorgan Maltz and Claudio Vekstein are responsible for this project.

Series of conferences ”The Holocaust: Politics and Moral”

On July 1, a series of conferences ”The Holocaust: Politics and Moral” were successfully held in our Jerusalem branch. More than two hundred people attended these conferences. The closure was carried out with a presentation entitled: ”The Catholic Church: Lights and Shadows”.

Homage to Cardinal Antonio Quarracino

On August 8, a ceremony was held in remembrance of the former Cardinal of Argentina, Antonio Quarracino, on the 78th anniversary of his birth. Cardinal Quarracino was one of the founders of the IRWF and inaugurated the Commemorative Mural to the Victims of the Holocaust. Placed within the main Catholic Cathedral of Argentina, the Mural has no precedents around the world in the history of Jewish-Christian relationships.

Guy Sorman visits the Mural

The French intellectual Guy Sorman visited Argentina in the framework of his on going research into the situation of the main Jewish communities in the world. On August 13, the IRWF held a meeting with the prestigious thinker organized by the former Argentine Ambassador to France and member of the Foundation, Juan Archibaldo Lanús. Guy Sorman later visited the Commemorative Mural to the Victims of the Holocaust, which is installed within the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral. The Mural consists of a glass panel displaying pages from prayer books rescued from the ruins of the Treblinka and Auschwitz extermination camps and the Warsaw ghetto as well.

Day of the German Unity

October 3. Representatives of the IRWF attended the celebrations held at the German Embassy marking the Day of the German Unity.

Documentary Film ”Legacy”

A preview of the documentary film ”Legado” (Legacy) produced by the IRWF, was screened on December 15 at the Palais de Glace Exhibition Hall, within the framework of the ”Gauchos Judíos” (Jewish Gauchos) Exhibition, organized by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sports. The film shows the places where Jewish colonists settled, their customs, religion, and the exchange of cultures that favored the growth of the country

Havana Film Festival

Vivian Imar and Marcelo Trotta, IRWF volunteers and directors of the documentary film ”Legado” (Legacy) were invited to participate in the Havana Film Festival. The work was also projected at synagogues and community auditoriums around the city.

Refuge and Exile

On November 6 the Goethe Institute and the IRWF organized the conference ‘Argentina: Refuge and Exile’ to mark the 63rd anniversary of the ”Night of the Broken Glass”. Rudolf Barth, Director of the GI and Dr. Natalio Wengrower, Vice-president of the IRWF, chaired the conference. Dr. Andreas Nachama, former President of the Jewish community in Berlin, talked about the situation of Jews in the Germany of the thirties and the social movement towards exile. Later, Johanna Hopfengärtner, a scholar of the International Raul Wallenberg Foundation, addressed the public on the case of Jewish-German exile in Argentina.

280.000 ”Raoul Wallenberg” Stamps

On an IRWF initiative the Argentine Post Office issued a Raoul Wallenberg commemorative stamps. So far some 280.000 stamps have been sent around the world on letters posted by our organization.

New Zealand and the IRWF

The Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark attended a meeting with IRWF representative Nicholas Tozer who welcomed the Prime Minister as an Honorary Member of this organization.

Following Wallenberg’s Steps

Rabbi Mario Ablin visited Mexico City where he met with the daughter of the Mexican diplomat and savior Gilberto Bosques. Dr Ablin was presented with a vast amount of documentation about the humanitarian actions carried out by Bosques. In his capacity as Mexican Consul to France and later as Business Representative in Marseilles, Bosques granted more than ten thousand Mexican visas between the years 1939 and 1942. Homage to Gilberto Bosques is being organized together with the Mexican State Department. The President of Mexico Mr. Vicente Fox Quesada, himself an honorary member of our Foundation, has given his support to this initiative.

Portuguese Tour

On December 2001 John Crisostomo, member of the IRWF, traveled to Portugal on behalf of the IRWF. In Lisbon he had a meeting with the family of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, former Portuguese Consul to Bordeaux and savior of thousands of refugees, mostly Jewish, in 1940. In Fatima he met with Bishop Serafim Ferreira to whom he presented an important IRWF project. He also held a meeting with Cardinal José de la Cruz Policarpo and with the East Timor Commissioner, Victor Melicias.

Farewell to the Swedish Ambassador

In July, 2001 the Swedish Ambassador, Peter Landelius, winner of the Raoul Wallenberg 2000 Award, concluded his diplomatic mission to Argentina after a successful five years period. The IRWF participated in the farewell and welcomed the new Ambassador, Madeleine Ströje – Wilkens.

”Raoul Wallenberg” School

The IRWF presented a proposal to the Government of the city of Buenos Aires requesting that they give the name Raoul Wallenberg to a school within the city. This initiative aims to transmit to the future generations the humanitarian values of the Swedish diplomat and of many other saviors.

Names of Saviors

The IRWF has launched a campaign among the leaders of the secular and religious communities so that they consider proposing to the parents of newly born children, the possibility of choosing the names of the Savior Heroes for their new born children.

The man who stopped the trains to Auschwitz

The IRWF promotes the book ‘The Man who Stopped the Trains to Auschwitz’ by the historian David Kranzler. The author tells the little known story of El Salvador diplomat to Switzerland George Mantello saving actions during WWII. Throughout the pages of this book the author mentions the names of other saviors such as Raoul Wallenberg (Sweden); Carl Lutz (Switzerland); Florian Manoliu (Romania) and Angel Sanz-Briz (Spain).

Yiddish culture before and after the Holocaust

At its Jerusalem branch and with the participation of important intellectuals, the IRWF organized the series of conferences ”The Yiddish culture before and after the Holocaust”.

President of the Federal Republic of Germany Johannes Rau, held a meeting with the founder of the IRWF, Baruch Tenembaum on March 2001 at the Presidential Residence in Berlin. Tenembaum praised President Rau for his speech before the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem when in February 2000 he pleaded for forgiveness for the crimes committed by the Nazi Regime. On the occasion Tenembaum presented the sculpture ‘Homage to Wallenberg’ to the German President.

Advisors to German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder held a meeting with members of the IRWF at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Berlin. On behalf of the Chancellor they expressed the German Government’s satisfaction by the successes achieved by the IRWF and offered total collaboration to its mission.

The Mayor of Berlin Eberhard Diepgen held a private meeting with Mr Baruch Tenembaum on March 7th at the Berlin City Hall. Mayor Diepgen agreed to promote the humanistic examples of the German rescuers and of other nationalities in order to create awareness about the necessity of understanding, dialogue and co-existence in an increasingly globalized world. Mayor Diepgen was presented with the canvas ‘Basilica of the Nazareth Annunciation‘ by the renowned Argentine artist Raúl Soldi, reproducing the fresco painted in 1968 on the walls of the Basilica of Nazareth in Holy Land at a request of the interfaith organization Casa Argentina.

Ministers of Education of the world were requested on April 2001 by the IRWF to name at least one school after Raoul Wallenberg or after the names of others Holocaust’s rescuers. This worldwide campaign encouraging. Ministers of Education from all over the world has the whole-hearted support of Mrs. Nina Lagegren, Raoul Wallenberg’s sister.

Historical Research The IRWF has carried out an exhaustive historical research in relation to the different events associated with Nuncio Roncalli’s interventions on refugees’ behalf during the Holocaust. The IRWF continues seeking testimonies and documentation of survivors, churches, organizations, and foreign relations ministries to widen the information about the rescuing actions took by Nuncio Angelo Roncalli, later Pope John XXIII, during the Holocaust. The IRWF wishes to thank the collaboration of Dr André Chouraqui (translator of The Bible, The Torah and The Koran into French); Dr. Mordechai Arbel and Professor Stanford Shaw.

Homage to Aristides de Sousa Mendes in Manhattan On the 47th anniversary of the death of the Portuguese diplomat who saved 30.000 refugees, a homage was held by the IRWF at the Portugal Delegation in Manhattan. Apostolic Nuncio Monsignor Renato Martino, the Consul of Portugal Ambassador José Carlos de la Cruz Almeida and the UN Portugal Representative Ambassador Antonio Monteiro attended the ceremony. The President of Portugal Jorge Sampaio sent his endorsement for the ceremony. The sculpture ‘Homage to Raoul Wallenberg’ was presented to Sheila Fleischacker, Sousa Mendes’ granddaughter.

Sousa Mendes‘ portrait a canvas painted by artist Peter Malkin, member of the IRWF, was exhibited at the Portuguese Delegation in New York.

Courses and Conferences ‘The Holocaust: Ideology, Politics and Moral’ were organized by the IRWF between April 29 and July 1st, at the Jerusalem headquarters, 3 Antebi St. The IRWF took this initiative with the aim of creating a critical and interdisciplinary framework about the Holocaust, with special stress to the ideological, political and moral aspects of that tragic process. Special attention was given to the figure of diplomats and ecclesiastic dignitaries who, at their own risk, saved the lives of thousands of persecuted people, most of them Jewish, during the Shoah. Renowned scholars, intellectuals, writers, journalists and even Ambassadors of several countries attended the ten chapters of the program.

A Tribute to Jan Karski underground resistance World War hero, was organized on June 20th at the Polish Embassy in Buenos Aires. As a courier Karski, a Catholic, Jesuit-educated Polish, went through Europe permanently risking his life. He was probably the first non-Jewish and hence entirely objective and reliable eyewitness of the Holocaust who informed the Allies about the Nazi’s atrocities. The testimony of Karski to the filmmaker Claude Lanzmann for the movie SHOA was projected during the ceremony. Swedish Ambassador Peter Landelius and renowned writer Marcos Aguinis presented to the Polish Ambassador Eugeniusz Noworyta the sculpture ‘Homage to Raoul Wallenberg’.