August 5, 2009

Gathering at the London Wallenberg Statue

A special gathering organized by the Western Marble Arch Synagogue took place at the Raoul Wallenberg Statue in London. The delegation was presided by Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld and Sir Sigmund Sternberg. Marcus Engstrom, representing the Swedish Embassy, also attended the moving ceremony.

Mrs. Jill Blonsky, volunteer of the Wallenberg Foundation, made a speech as did Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld and Sir Sigmund.

Flowers were laid and Psalm 123 was read aloud.

Jill Blonsky Speech:

I would like to thank everyone for coming this evening especially as it was at such short notice. We are here to pay our respects to Raoul Wallenberg, on what would have been his 97th birthday.

As we know, in 1944 the order was given by the Nazi Government in Germany to liquidate the Jews of Hungary. The aristocratic and comfortably-off Raoul Wallenberg was asked to go to Budapest under the auspices of the Swedish Legation to rescue as many as possible by linking them in some way with Sweden. We know he bribed officials and soldiers, took people of trains, out of death marches, created safe houses and issued Swedish passes in an effort to save lives while putting his own very much at risk from the likes of Adolf Eichmann. Finally, when the order was given to destroy the ghetto, Wallenberg issued threats to the German army and the order was cancelled. No-one knows how many were saved but the figure could be as high as 100,000. But on January 17th as part of a scheme to arrange the rebuilding of post-war Hungary, Raoul asked to meet with the Red Army General Malinovsky. He and his driver, Vilmos Langfelder, was arrested and both disappeared into the gulag system, never to be heard of again.

To this day it is not what happened to Raoul, but what we do know is that we owe him a debt of gratitude, not just for saving lives, but for saving our faith in humanity at a time when there appeared to be so little in evidence. My greatest wish today is that wherever he is, Raoul is blessed and rewarded by God.