I will never be able to go back to Stockholm without knowing inside myself that I’d done all a man could do to save as many Jews as possible.
January 17, 2019 - On January 17, 1945, the Swedish diplomat, Raoul Wallenberg, was arrested by Soviet authorities during the Siege of Belgrade. He disappeared into the Soviet prison system and was never seen again. Before his disappearance and death, reported variously as July 17, 1947 and as late as the 1960s, Wallenberg stood face to face against the Nazi machine of genocide and, through his efforts, saved the lives of perhaps as many as 30,000 Jews.
Wallenberg arrived in Budapest in July 1944. Although nominally a member of the Swedish legation, his true mission was to do whatever could be done to rescue Jews from certain death. He did this with a combination of strategy, persuasion, threats, bribery and manipulation. Wallenberg rented houses in Budapest and, declaring that these locations had diplomatic immunity, sheltered Jews under the protection of the Swedish flag. He printed Swedish passports and protective passes and distributed them as widely as he could. In one case it is reported that he climbed onto the roof of a train that was about to depart to the Auschwitz death camp and, ignoring the orders and threats of the German and Hungarian guards, calmly handed out passports to the hands that were reaching for them.
“The courage of men such as Raoul Wallenberg is humbling, yet should give us hope,” said Teresa Woo-Paw Chairperson of the Board, Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF). “Wallenberg, like so many others, could have turned his back on the suffering of European Jewry and done nothing. Instead, confronted by an evil of unimaginable dimension, he chose to act. In his own words, he said ‘If I can help, if I can save a single person, I will go.”
“Raoul Wallenberg has been honoured in many countries for his courage and his sacrifice,” said Dr. Lilian Ma, CRRF Executive Director, Canadian Race Relations Foundation (FCRR). “In Canada he bears the distinction of being the first of only five men and women to be granted honorary citizenship. In his honour, may we remember, as he did, that ‘one person can make a difference.’”
About the Canadian Race Relations Foundation
The purpose of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation is to facilitate throughout Canada the development, sharing and application of knowledge and expertise in order to contribute to the elimination of racism and all forms of racial discrimination in Canadian society. The work of the Foundation is premised on the desire to create and nurture an inclusive society based on equity, social harmony, mutual respect and human dignity. Its underlying principle in addressing racism and racial discrimination emphasizes positive race relations and the promotion of shared Canadian values of human rights and democratic institutions.
For more information:
Lilian Ma, Executive Director