January 21, 2011

January 17, the day of Wallenberg’s disappearance, commemorated around the world

On January 17, 1945, Wallenberg left Budapest bound for Debrecen where he was to have a meeting with the Soviet army officials to discuss the post-war Hungary. It is still not clear what happened to him after that. This year, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF) and many organizations worldwide marked the 66th anniversary of his disappearance.

In Budapest, Hungarian Raoul Wallenberg Association organized a special event at the Holocaust Memorial Center. The event was opened by chairman Dr. Jozsef Sebes, followed by the reading of the greeting letters written by Larry Pfeffer, chief organizer of International Rescuer Day and Baruch Tenembaum, founder of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation. The speakers of the event were Her Excellency Cecilia Bjorner, Ambassador of Sweden and Dr. Endre Marinovich, President of the Antall Jozsef Society. Following the ceremony, the participants visited the Wallenberg memorial plaque in the Wallenberg Street, Budapest.

The Honorable Jason Kenney, Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism issued a statement commemorating January 17 which is celebrated annually as the Raoul Wallenberg Day in Canada.

“Raoul Wallenberg Day is an opportunity to remember the Holocaust and to pay tribute, not only to its victims, but to one of its heroes. By remembering the actions of Raoul Wallenberg, we reaffirm our commitment to fight against the evils of racism, and anti-Semitism.”

To mark the occasion Sweden’s Minister for EU Affairs Birgitta Ohlsson will be visiting Budapest to place flowers at Swedish Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg’s memorial on Thursday, January 20, 2011.

“In Europe today we are seeing increasing anti-Semitism, oppression of Roma and discrimination of minorities, all of which is contrary to the EU’s value of liberty. It therefore feels especially important to honor Raoul Wallenberg here this year, when Hungary, in its role of holder of the Presidency of the EU, has chosen to tackle a number of challenges concerning human rights. Not least when it comes to the situation of the Roma,” Birgitta Ohlsson said in her statement.

The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF) commemorate the day of Wallenberg’s disappearance at the Wallenberg Award Ceremony organized on January 16, at the Shoah Museum in Paris, France, when the 2010 Raoul Wallenberg Award was bestowed upon Beate and Serge Klarsfeld in recognition of their devotion to document the Holocaust and their relentless commitment to educate the young generations.  In her speech Pastor Annemarie Werner, a representative of the IRWF who presented the award, expressed the importance of remembering January 17 and the great hero from Sweden, but also other heroes such us Beate and Serge Klarsfeld whose civic courage and determination  made a difference in the lives of all those who thanks to them have seen their persecutors being brought to justice.

The IRWF also created a special visual presentation that commemorates January 17 using parts from its “Documenting Wallenberg” project.