February 2, 2005

Swedish diplomat who saved thousands from Nazis honoured


Vienna, February 2nd, 2005 (ACPress.net) Raoul Wallenberg, a Protestant diplomat from Sweden who saved tens of thousands of Jews and other persecuted people from the Nazis in Hungary during the Second World War, has been honoured 60 years after his disappearance in Budapest.

Wallenberg, an unselfish benefactor, was kidnapped by the invading Soviets on January 17th, 1945. He was taken to the military headquarters of the Red Army to the east of Budapest and nothing more was heard of him. It is thought that he might have died later in Russia. Wallenberg, a Protestant architect, was the son of a business family. He forged passports which the authorities accepted. He increased the number of Swedish safe-houses to 30, his country being neutral in the conflict. In this way, he managed to look after many refugees who would otherwise have been deported and executed.

Sixty years after his disappearance, the Wallenberg Foundation is launching an international campaign to collect 100,000 signatures. It intends to present a petition to the United Nations demanding an enquiry into what happened to the diplomat. They are calling on the Russian authorities to put an end to the tragic mystery and reveal what happened. A memorial to the diplomat in Vienna still has the date of his death with a question mark: ‘4th August, 1912 – ?’, is how it reads. Many diplomats attended a memorial ceremony at which they called for the mystery to be cleared up. Similar acts are to be held in other cities. Survivors of the Nazi persecution who had been saved by Wallenberg laid a wreath on the monument honouring the diplomat. Laszlo Ladanyi recalled that he was 23 when he received a passport from Wallenberg. Today he is 83 and he still has the passport at his home in Buenos Aires, with profound gratitude for his benefactor.

Source: La Nación. Editing: ACPress.net