February 10, 2010

US Ambassador pays tribute to Raoul Wallenberg

Vilma Martínez, United States Ambassador in Argentina, was the keynote speaker at the commemorative ceremony organized on February 8, 2010 in Buenos Aires, in honor of the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, marking the 65th anniversary of his disappearance.

”Raoul Wallenberg gave us an unparalleled profile in courage. He and the many he inspired in the waning days of World War II saved thousands of Hungary’s Jews from the Holocaust. We honor him as a man who chose to do the right thing in a desperate time,” said Ambassador Martínez, ”and we must all take from his life a lesson in standing up to racism and injustice.”

At the event organized by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation Buenos Aires office, Ambassador Martínez gave a speech next to the statue that honors the great hero of the WWII. Bishop of Zárate-Campana, Monsignor Oscar Sarlinga and Nicholas Tozer, member of the Board of Directors of the IRWF, also took part in the official program.

Wallenberg is credited with saving as many as 100,000 Hungarian Jews from death through a variety of unconventional and risky efforts during the second half of 1944. He was supported in his efforts by the Swedish Government as well as by the World Jewish Congress, the United States Government, and many private individuals. The Wallenberg Foundation celebrates an event annually under a the event under his statue in Buenos Aires on or around the anniversary of his disappearance, on January 17, 1945. His fate has never been definitively determined.

”In 1981, the United States Congress named Wallenberg one of only two, to that date, ”honorary citizens”. The other was Sir Winston Churchill. Wallenberg’s designation by the U.S. Congress was grounded in the ideals he represented, specifically his courageous personal stand against racism, injustice, and genocide,” said Ambassador Martínez.

Ambassadors and diplomatic delegations attended the ceremony. Among them: Daniel Gazit, Ambassador of Israel; Francisco Carlos Bustillo Bonasso, Ambassador of Uruguay; Rafael Estrella, Ambassador of Spain; Mira Martinec, Ambassador of Croatia; Carla del Ponte, Ambassador of the Swiss Confederation; Ion Vilcu, Ambassador of Rumania; Vladimir Karmishalyan, Ambassador of Armenia; Judith de la Mata, Ambassador of Perú; Stephan Apostolov, Ambassador of Bulgaria; Shan Morgan, Ambassador of the United Kingdom of Great Britain; Robert Zisch, Ambassador of Austria; Pál Varga Koritár, Ambassador of Hungary; Per Sjonell, First Secretary of the Embassy of Sweden; Monika Konieczna, Consul of Poland; Mehmet Bulut, Counselor of the Embassy of Turkey; Alma Margarita Carvalho Soto, First Secretary of the Embassy of México; Louise Corbin, Charge de Affairs of the Embassy of Canada; Ondrej Pometlo, Head of the Consular Section of the Embassy of Check Republic; May Mahnken, Head of Protocol of the Embassy of Germany; Taras Boietskyi, Counselor of the Embassy of Ukraine; Julio Bitelli, Counselor of the Embassy of Brazil.

Many Holocaust survivors paid respectful tribute to the ”Hero without a grave,” among them: Myriam Kesler, David Galante, Peter Janosi, Tomás Kertesz, Sara Celma and Eva Sebestyen.

Victorio Taccetti, Deputy Foreign Minister; Cármen Argibay, Member of Supreme Court of Justice; Aldo Donzis, President of DAIA; Guillermo Borger, President of AMIA; writer Marcos Aguinis; Pablo Bruera, Mayor of La Plata; Hernán Lombardi, Minister of Culture of Buenos Aires; Diego Santilli, Minister of Urban Development of Buenos Aires; Esteban Bullrich, Minister of Education of Buenos Aires; Sergio Widder, Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Argentina; Graciela Gass García Hamilton; Members of the Parliament: Patricia Bullrich, Héctor ”Toty” Flores, Federico Pinedo and Gabriela Michetti; Claudio Avruj, Director of Institutional Relations of the Government of Buenos Aires; Edgardo Lobos, City Councilor of La Matanza; Soledad Bordegaray, from the Union of Unemployed Workers of La Matanza; Marta Nercellas, Israel Imar y Guillermo Yanco; Aída Ender, from the ”Generations of the Shoah” organization; Susana Luterstein, Vice-President of Sherit Hapleitá; Benjamín Bromberg, Representative of ”Casa de Tucumán” in Buenos Aires; Lidia Assorati, Nieves Fariña and Aldo Nasjleti, were also among the attendance.

After the official program, the attendees placed flowers next to the Wallenberg statue, work of the UK artist Philip Jackson.