June 30, 2000

Remarks of Secretary-General Kofi Annan at Raoul Wallenberg Park

”The achievements of Raoul Wallenberg are among the most remarkable and inspiring of the last century. My wife and I are honoured to join you today in paying tribute to him in the city where most of them happened.

It was here, in Budapest of the Second World War, that Raoul took enormous personal risks to rescue Jews and others facing persecution and peril.

It was here, in humanity’s darkest hour, that Raoul highlighted the vital role of the bystander, of the third party amidst conflict and suffering. It was here, in the face of despair, that his intervention gave hope to victims, encouraged them to fight and resist, to hang on and bear witness.

And it is here today, in the middle of a peaceful and prosperous Europe, that we must remember: Raoul Wallenberg was not only a true hero of his generation; he was among the foremost human rights defenders the world has known. As long as oppression and persecution walk the face of this earth, he should be a hero to any generation.

And so, on behalf of the United Nations, I ask that this memorial stand as a reminder that the life of Raoul Wallenberg cannot be extinguished with the century we have left behind. I add the hope that his example will live forever in our consciousness and our conscience; and that whatever darkness befalls us, our moral compass will always be guided by his star.”

Kofi Annan