August 5, 2009

Buenos Aires remembers Wallenberg

On August 4th 2009, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF) organized a public tribute in Buenos Aires in celebration of the 97th birthday of the Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of lives during the Holocaust. More than a hundred people gathered to remember the deeds of Raoul Wallenberg, who disappeared after having been imprisoned by the Soviet Army.

Presided by the engineer Oscar Vicente, the event took place next to Wallenberg’s statue, located at the corner of Austria Street and Jose Figueroa Alcorta Avenue, in the capital of Argentina. Daniel Gazit, ambassador of Israel, Marcos Aguinis, famous writer, Per Sjönell, first secretary of the Swedish Embassy, and Hernán Lombardi, minister of the Culture Cabinet of the City of Buenos Aires, spoke at the event.

The late Jose Ignacio Garcia Hamilton, vice-president of the Casa Argentina in Israel Tierra Santa and member of the IRWF’s Board of Directors, was remembered with a moving speech. His daughter Delfina attended the ceremony.

Among the ones who attended the event were Ms. Mira Martinec, ambassador of Croatia; Ms. Izabela Matusz, deputy of Business and Trade at the Embassy of Poland; Mr. Andreas Drexler, deputy of Business and Trade at the Hungarian Embassy; Mr. Trond Gabrielsen, first secretary of the Royal Embassy of Norway; Mr. Carlos Medina Drescher, counselor of the Embassy of Spain; Mr. Vasily Zaytsev, member of the Business Section of the Russian Embassy; Mr. Raluca Raducea, second secretary of the Embassy of Romania; and Ms. Alicia Todesca, who was representing the ambassador of the Austrian Embassy, Ms. Gudrun Graf.

Many Argentinean officials were present at the occasion, such as Mr. Jorge Obeid, national Congressman; Mr. Alberto Santa Marina, federal judge; Mr. Aldo Donzis, president of DAIA; and a delegation of students from the Escuela de Comercio Antonio Bermejo, headed by Prof. Fernando Acosta.

Seated in the front row, the event also counted with the participation of the Holocaust Survivors Mr. Jack Fuchs, Ms. Miriam Kesler and Mr. David Galanted, along with Mr. Laszlo Ladanyi and Mr. Tomas Kertesz, who were rescued by Raoul Wallenberg.

In New York, the IRWF hosted the first meeting of Wallenberg’s survivors, gathering in its headquarters at the East 67th Street more than twenty people rescued by the Swedish diplomat.

In Montevideo, Uruguay, Wallenberg’s birthday was also celebrated through several activities organized by the Raoul Wallenberg’s School and ORT School. In London, Ms. Jill Blonsky, IRWF’s volunteer, and Sir. Sigmund Sternberg, community leader, paid their homage to the ”Hero Without a Grave”, next to Wallenberg’s statue created by Philip Jackson, similar to the one placed in Buenos Aires.

Following worldwide celebrations, the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem celebrated Wallenberg’s birthday projecting the movie ”Raoul Wallenberg, Savior and Victim”, from the film director Klaus Dexel. In Tel-Aviv, flowers were also put next to Wallenberg’s monument, as in an additional tribute to the Swedish diplomat.

In Ecuador, Raoul Wallenberg School located in Babahoyo also hosted numerous activities commemorating Wallenberg’s birthday.

Translation: Nathalia Terra, volunteer IRWF NY