January 17, 2012

2012. Letter from the founder

Dear Friends,

I want to open this letter by inviting you all to watch the short film “Porcelain Unicorn”, which, we believe, illustrates Raoul Wallenberg’s values of humanity and solidarity in a degree that words cannot achieve. In only three minutes, filmmaker Keegan Wilcox managed to remind us why we should continue to dedicate our lives to shed light onto the inspiring stories hidden behind the tragedy of the Holocaust and other genocides.

We reach the end of 2011 with a great sense of pride for having done our part as an institution, but most of all for having found contemporary examples among regular people like you. A catholic nanny, Sandra Samuel, risked her own life to save that of a Jewish child, Moshe Holtzberg, during the terrorist attack perpetrated against Chabad House in Mumbai, in 2008. We were honored to pay tribute to Sandra and look forward to continue recognizing contemporary heroes in the future.

Education has been one of our main devices since 2003. In 2011 we achieved a new height in terms of the quality and reach of our “Raoul Wallenberg at School Program,” which has been presented in high schools and universities in Argentina, Israel, and the United States.

Preservation has also become an importance instrument in recent years. The collection of oral history interviews with Wallenberg Survivors we have been documented and finally published in 2011 has been greatly recognized by the community and utilized by students and educators across the nation. This public appreciation and the many requests for materials have inspired us to digitalize the Foundation’s entire archive. Such a task does not only include photos and newspaper articles, but also letters by heads of states, important dignitaries, and inspiring figures.

Research has produced some of the most satisfactory accomplishments of the foundation as we succeed in bringing to light the stories of unknown rescuers such as Paul and Helene (Leni) Pissarius, who provided shelter to a Jewish family for 27 months during WWII. The couple has been honored with the Righteous Among the Nations award thanks to the IRWF’s relentless investigations.

Finally, I would like to welcome Eduardo Eurnekian, a notable entrepreneur and philanthropist of Argentine-Armenian descent as the new President of the IRWF. It is with his collaboration that we have been working towards recognizing Armenians who rescued Jews during the Holocaust and Turks who rescued Armenians during the 1915 Genocide. We hope that, by acknowledging the heroic deeds of rescuers during the Armenian Genocide we can help build a path towards reconciliation between the Turkish and the Armenian people.

As always, these daunting tasks have only been possible thanks to your contributions, which we received with gratitude and admiration.

Warm Regards,

Baruch Tenembaum
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation