May 19, 2005

Controversial plaque removed from Argentina’s Foreign Office



The Foreign office decided to remove a controversial plaque from its premises. The plaque paid tribute to 12 Argentine diplomats for their actions ”for the Jews” during the Second World War. One of these diplomats is accused by community organizations to have done exactly the opposite.

Decree 999 signed by Foreign Minister Rafael Bielsa on Monday, and published yesterday, ordered as ”a preemptive measure” the removal of the plaque located in the office of the Foreign Ministry. The decree was taken considering the ”seriousness” of the denunciation, and because of ”reasons of institutional origin and responsibility” preemptive” measures will be adopted until a commission finishes the investigations on the matter.

The denunciation has been led for several years by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation and was aimed against the controversial plaque, which was unveiled festively in July 2001, by then Foreign Minister Adalberto Rodríguez Giavarini. This paid tribute to a group of Argentine officials who ”stood out during the Third Reich Regime because of their solidarity and humane demonstrations” with the victims of Nazism.

But, after a thorough investigation, based on Nuremberg trials documents, on books and on genuine inquiries, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation holds that not only the men who ”just fulfilled with their diplomatic duty to help the Jews” were distinguished but also that there was more than one conflicting case. Gustavo Jaliffe, the Director of the Foundation, pointed at Luis H. Irigoyen, the former Secretary of the Argentine Embassy in Berlin, who – he says – refused entry visas to 100 Argentine Jews who Adolf Hitler’s Regime wanted to hand over to the Argentine Republic.

Translation: Nora Bellettieri