Motion to the Senate of Canada to Implore President of Russia to Assist in Locating Raoul Wallenberg

Senator Di Nino presented a Motion to the Senate of Canada addressing the situation and I have attached a copy of this Motion for your information.

Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 143, Issue 14

Tuesday, May 16, 2006
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Motion to Implore President of Russia to Assist in Locating Raoul Wallenberg—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino, pursuant to notice of May 11, 2006, moved:

That the Senate of Canada implore President Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, to use his good office to shed light on the whereabouts of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who was responsible for saving the lives of thousands of people from the Nazi death camps. Mr. Wallenberg was allegedly seized by the Soviet Army on January 17, 1945 and has not been seen or heard from since.


He said: Honourable senators, from time to time, the world produces a truly great humanitarian. It is always a person who puts the well-being and safety of others ahead of his or her own.

One such person is Raoul Wallenberg. Mr. Wallenberg was a young Swedish businessman who was recruited by his friends and colleagues to join the Swedish diplomatic corps in Budapest, Hungary. The specific mandate of this group was to set up a rescue operation for Jews, many of whom had been, and continued to be, deported to the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps, where certain death awaited.

Let me quote some historical details of Mr. Wallenberg’s successful efforts to save the Jews of Budapest from the website of Canadian Heritage:

At the end of June 1944, Mr. Wallenberg was appointed First Secretary at the Swedish Legation in Budapest with the mission to start a rescue operation for the Jews there. Wallenberg used creative methods and unorthodox diplomacy to achieve this goal. Based on an original idea of his colleague, Per Anger, he designed a Swedish pass to help protect Jews against German and Hungarian officials who were trying to deport them. Mr. Wallenberg was also able to establish safe houses for many Jews in Budapest. The Swedish flag was hung above the doors of these houses and Mr. Wallenberg declared them Swedish territory, ensuring the Nazi army did not visit to take their occupants to detention camps.

During the war, many Jews were being deported from Hungary on foot and by train. Reports suggest that Mr. Wallenberg handed out protective passes, food and medicine to people on these forced marches, and that he climbed onto the trains and pushed bundles of passes to people inside. He then threatened and bribed officials until they agreed to free those who were in possession of these Swedish passes.

During the last days of World War II, in response to concerns that the Nazis were planning to kill the 115,000 inhabitants of the Budapest Jewish ghetto, Mr. Wallenberg warned that if the massacre were carried out, he would ensure that the perpetrators would be tried as war criminals. The ghetto was left alone, and Mr. Wallenberg is frequently credited with saving its inhabitants.

The following is from website of The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation:

Now Raoul Wallenberg began to expand the ”Swedish houses.” These were more than thirty buildings in the Pest district where Jews could seek shelter. A Swedish flag hung outside the door of each, and Wallenberg declared the building Swedish territory. The number of inhabitants … soon climbed to 15,000.

The other neutral diplomatic missions in Budapest began to follow Wallenberg’s example by issuing protective passports. A number of diplomats from other countries were inspired to open their own ”safe houses” for Jewish refugees….

During the second week of January of 1945, Raoul Wallenberg learned that Eichmann was about to set in motion a total massacre of the Jews living in Budapest’s larger ghetto. The only person who could prevent it was General August Schmidthuber, commander of the German troops in Hungary.

Wallenberg’s ally Szalay was sent to find Schmidthuber and hand over a note which declared that Raoul Wallenberg would make sure that the general would be held personally responsible for the massacre and that he would be hanged as a war criminal after the war. The massacre was cancelled at the last minute as a result of Raoul Wallenberg’s intervention.

Two days later, the Russians arrived and found 97,000 Jews alive in two Budapest ghettoes. This brought to 120,000 the total number of Jews who had survived the Nazi efforts to exterminate them in Hungary.

According to Per Anger, Wallenberg’s friend and colleague, Wallenberg must be given credit for having saved about 100,000 Jews.

Colleagues, over the years, there have been conflicting reports regarding the whereabouts of Raoul Wallenberg. What seems to be generally accepted is that on January 17, 1945, the Soviet army seized Mr. Wallenberg, and no one has seen or heard from him since.

During the last several decades, a variety of stories have surfaced about the fate of Mr. Wallenberg, including the unsubstantiated claim by the Russians that in 1947, he died of a heart attack in prison. In January 2001, Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson commented:

As long as there is no unequivocal evidence of what happened to Mr. Wallenberg — and this is still the case — it cannot be said that Raoul Wallenberg is dead.

The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation is an NGO which counts among its supporters more than 60 heads of state, close to 70 governors and mayors, over 80 Nobel Prize recipients and numerous other eminent and respected men and women including a number of Canadians. The foundation’s mission is to develop educational programs and public awareness campaigns based on the values of solidarity and civic courage, ethical cornerstones of the Saviours of the Holocaust.

They have launched an international initiative to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to bring closure to this both heroic and tragic story by reopening the files of Mr. Wallenberg. The world owes Raoul Wallenberg and his family, including his niece Nane Annan, wife of the UN Secretary General, a least this small but hugely significant step in recognition of his courageous and heroic actions.

I urge all colleagues to support this motion, which, if passed, I intend to bring to the Russian Ambassador to Canada for delivery to President Vladimir Putin.

On motion of Senator Stratton, debate adjourned.