President Stepan Mesic speech

Honored Mr. Tenembaum, honored Mrs. Tenembaum, esteemed ambassadors, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a privilege for a head of any state to express recognition and gratitude of a country which he is leading through an award to individuals who have achieved notable, even outstanding, results in the activities they perform. This is a privilege, but a responsibility as well. To select those who truly stand out from thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions of others who are also active and creative, is no simple task. In the case of the individual whom I am presenting with a high Croatian decoration – however – this was not a difficult task at all.

Baruch Tenembaum is a man in search of truth, a man who fights for truth and a man who wants for others to learn this truth. It sounds simple, but the world in which we are living can make this extremely difficult. The primary focus of his activities is to shed light on the fate of a Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who, without any regard for his personal wellbeing and in spite of constant danger, saved thousands of Jews in Hungary from the Nazis and from those who assisted them toward the end of World War 2.

Wallenberg went missing after he was brought to interrogation at the Soviet military command and that was the last time he was seen. Actually, since then, numerous unconfirmed stories exist about the fate of this brave man. Even the official version, presented to the public many years later, leaves numerous unanswered questions.

Mr. Tenembaum set his mind on discovering the truth about Wallenberg. He established an international foundation under his name, and the most important thing is the fact that the foundation is not focused solely on Wallenberg but it is active in the promotion of values which he defended and for which he even sacrificed himself.

The international Raoul Wallenberg foundation is not only investigating and finding the truth, it is also making sure that the truth will not become forgotten or counterfeited; this is the truth about those who saved others at a time when being of a different race, religion or nation could get you killed. Indirectly, this is also the truth about those who killed others simply for being different. These are, in fact, two sides of the same medal. If the rescuers are a topic of discussion, the persecutors must be mentioned as well.

Personally, I was honored to assist, after Mr. Tenembaum invited me, his research about the fate of Raoul Wallenberg and to honor the individuals who, like Wallenberg, disregarded their own lives to save others.

It is my great pleasure that the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation decided to bring back to life the memories of those Croatians who, during the dark times of Nazism and fascism, and here – during the Ustaše regime – knew to recognize Good from Evil and offered a helping hand to those who were not meant to be helped within the concept of the criminal policy which was carried out throughout occupied Europe – at least in the minds of those who turned politics into crime, and crime into politics.

Thank you, Mr. Tenembaum for the initiative to build a statue in Zagreb for all Croatians – rescuers from World War 2 and I wholeheartedly support that initiative.

By presenting him with a high decoration of the Republic of Croatia I wish him success in his tireless efforts, with his fight for truth, because only the truth can set us free and only the truth clears a path towards a future not burdened by the past.

If there were more people like Mr. Tenembaum, the world in which we are living would be a better place.