August 5, 2014

Wallenberg Foundation: Life Saving Shelters

HOUSES OF LIFE: New worldwide initiative aimed at keeping alive the memory of rescue feats during the Holocaust

The Board of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF) has resolved to launch a new worldwide initiative to mark and commemorate physical places associated with feats of rescue in the Shoah.

Eduardo Eurnekian, Chairman of the Board of the IRWF, characterized this project as “unique and unprecedented, as well as another effort by the IRWF to shed light into the stories of rescue and to pass on to the young generations the spirit of solidarity of the saviors”.

The IRWF is preparing an extensive list of suitable sites and is now in the process of contacting the relevant parties in order to organize the events, which will consist in placing commemorative plaques in the sites of rescue. Raoul Wallenberg s safe-houses and makeshift hospitals in Budapest are a great example of “Life Saving Shelters”. The plaques to be fixed on the selected sites will feature a special mention about Raoul Wallenberg s legacy as a way to strengthen the educational dimension of the initiative

One of the first ceremonies will take place at the General Curia of the Capuchin Order at Via Piamonte, Rome, clearly identified with the rescuer, Brother Marie-Benoit. In an adjacent building which was torn down (the convent Via Sicilia), Brother Marie-Benoit acted to saved hundreds of the Jews of Rome.

The IRWF has received a warm letter from Mauro Johri, the General Minister of the Capuchin Order, in which he expressed his enthusiastic agreement to the initiative.

Other places being contemplated are the Cathedral of Toulouse, France, where Archbishop Jules-Geraud Saliege wrote his famous pastoral letter, in 1942, denouncing the deportation of Jews, and later, was engaged in the rescue of hundreds of Jewish children; the Nuncio building in Budapest, where Monsignor Angelo Rotta, the Vatican Nuncio in that city during WWII, joined forces with other rescuers, such as Raoul Wallenberg, Carl Lutz and Giorgio Perlasca and issued a great number of fake baptismal certificates to save Jews from the Arrow Cross persecutions and killings.

The IRWF will also ask the general public to suggest sites of rescue, including churches, monasteries, mosques and private homes.

Baruch Tenembaum, Founder of the IRWF, considers that “the Life Saving Shelters will represent an emblematic reminder of the goodness displayed by the brave rescuers, women and men throughout Europe and other continents that did not stand idly-by and reached-out to the victims of persecution and extermination”.