October 2, 2015

At US Congress President Serzh Sargsyan pays tribute to Henry Morgenthau, Sr.

On 30 September 2015, the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, took part in a reception held by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation at the United States’ Congress in tribute to Henry Morgenthau, Sr.

In his capacity as US ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Henry Morgenthau alerted the world to what later became known as the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The Ambassador Morgenthatu’s Story is a unique source to understand the tragic events that took place a century ago.

The Raoul Wallenberg Foundation is an educational, global-reach NGO chaired by Eduardo Eurnekian and created by Baruch Tenembaum. Jorge Bergoglio, Pope Francis, is one of its founding members. The ceremony was conducted by Mrs. Abigail Tenembaum, volunteer of the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.

Video of the ceremony

President Sargsyan presented the Raoul Wallenberg Medal, dedicated to Henry Morgenthau, to his grandson, Robert Morgenthau. From 1975 until his retirement in 2009, Robert Morgenthau was the District Attorney for New York County, the borough of Manhattan. He is the second longest-serving district attorney in United States history.

The reception was attended by several Members of Congress. Among others, Senator Ted Markey and Representatives Ed Royce, Adam Schiff, Brad Sherman, Jackie Speier, Robert Dold, Jim Costa, Dave Trott, David Valadao, Judy Chu, Grace Napolitano, Katherine Clark and David Cicillilne. Professor Taner Akcam (Clark University); John Evans, former US Ambassador to Armenia; Perla Graisman, IRWF Global Development Director; Robert P. Morgenthau and Sarah Morgenthau, son and niece of Robert Morgenthau, respectively, also attended the ceremony.

President Sargsyan stated: “It is a great honor for me to be here today. This gathering pays tribute not only to the victims, survivors, and their descendants, but also to the entire Armenian people. This is equally an expression of respect for all nations that have ever gone through the ordeal which is genocide. This provides yet another opportunity to state that tolerance, alongside pluralism and equality in rights, is the source of ultimate values. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must -at that moment- become the center of the universe. In this respect the initiative to posthumously award the International Raoul Wallenberg Medal to Henry Morgenthau, Sr., is momentous and possesses a particular significance. I am delighted that his grandson, Mr. Robert Morgenthau, is here with us today. They say that as long as memory stays alive, so does the truth. If there is agony and genocide in this world, there also exist Wallenberg and Morgenthau, who have long become common names for us since they stand for all humanitarians of this world, whether Christian or Muslim, female or male, kin or alien, jeopardizing their existence, saving Armenians and Assyrians, Greeks and Jews, Darfurians and others from the claws of death. Henry Morgenthau, Raoul Wallenberg, and those who carry their torch today, can help life triumph over death.”

Upon receiving the Wallenberg Medal, Robert Morgenthau read a moving speech: “I am honored in more ways than I can recount to be asked to accept the Wallenberg Medal on behalf of my grandfather. The legacy of Raoul Wallenberg holds a very personal significance for my family. My father, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., was Secretary of the Treasury during the Holocaust. At a time when as many as 12,000 Hungarian Jews were being deported to certain death every day, he established the War Refugee Board to resettle the refugees and save their lives. It was Raoul Wallenberg who ultimately would run the Board, and it was his courage and tireless effort that saved 200,000 lives – and provided a model for the kind of humanitarian sacrifice that the world so needs today. I am honored as well to be in the presence of President Serge Sargysan. I can assure you that my grandfather would be especially pleased to know that one day his grandson would share the podium with the President of an independent and free Armenia.”

Along with the Kaloosdian/Mugar Chair at the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University, the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation joined forces in a major research effort under the supervision of Professor Taner Akcam. The ambitious research (published in an ebook) aims at identifying Turks and Kurds that reached out to the victims of the Armenian Genocide. The issue of the Muslim rescuers who went out of their way to save Armenians at the beginning of the 20th century is not properly studied and, thus, is an unchartered territory waiting to be discovered. Get the ebook here.

On 9 January 2014, Eduardo Eurnekian met Robert Morgenthau and expressed the gratitude of the Wallenberg Foundation for the key humanitarian role played by his family on behalf of persecuted people, Armenians, Jewish and Gypsies among many other minorities, during WWI and WWII.

Watch the video