In the early hours of the morning of the 17th January 1945, Raoul Wallenberg disappeared. He had been a consular official at the Swedish Legation in Budapest, Hungary. He was never heard from again.
Raoul Wallenberg was not Jewish. He worked at the Swedish Diplomatic Mission in Budapest with one purpose in mind; to save as many Jews as possible from the Nazi death machine. He not only issued thousands of visas a “safe passes”, but empowered by his diplomatic immunity, he worked relentlessly in the face of the Nazis as they tried to deport Hungarian Jews to the death camps.
I was honored to be invited yesterday – the 17th January – to a ceremony at the official residence of the Swedish Ambassador to Israel, H.E. Carl Magnus Nesser, to honor the late hero. The central event was the screening of a short documentary film: “The Survivors in Budapest: Interviews with Persons Saved by Raoul Wallenberg”. Four Israelis, all former Hungarians, who survived and lived to tell the tale. The interviews were bone-chilling as they recounted what they as children has seen, heard, felt and experienced – and how the brave Wallenberg saved them – and thousands more. The four were in the audience with us. Living flesh and blood, now mothers and fathers, grandparents, great-grandparents – survivors.
Ambassador Nesser addressed the gathering, first in faultless Hebrew (!) which he has learned in his four years in Israel, and then in English. Also addressing the gathering was Danny Rainer, head of the Israeli representation of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.
The Ambassador and the Embassy of Sweden in Tel Aviv are to be commended for arranging this event. The memory of Raoul Wallenberg will live on. May it be for a blessing for us all.
Photo credit: Eva Taylor.