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Obama honours Raoul Wallenberg's legacy

20 Apr 2012, 10:41

Published: 20 Apr 2012 10:41 GMT+02:00

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"When the Jews in Budapest were marked with that yellow star, he shielded them behind the blue and yellow of the Swedish flag," said Obama.

"All these years later we still remember Raoul Wallenberg as he was, a young man in his early 30s, who earned his place forever in the righteous among nations."

In his two minute video tribute to Wallenberg, who famously saved the lives of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary during World War II, Obama also praised the Swedish diplomat because he "reminded us of our obligations to our fellow human beings".

The video was played during a ceremony at Stockholm's Kulturhuset that was attended by Swedish democracy minister Birgitta Ohlsson, author Ingrid Carlberg, who recently published a book about Wallenberg, as well as US ambassador Mark Brzezinski.

"I feel both great hope and sorrow today when I think of this young man who gave his life for our fundamental values," Brzezinski told TT.

In addition to the ceremony in Stockholm, another ceremony took place in the rotunda of the US Capitol in Washington, DC in which Sweden's Princess Madeleine and Riksdag speaker Per Westerberg participated.

Earlier this week, the US House of Representatives voted unanimously to posthumously award Wallenberg the Congressional Gold Medal.

The medal, first awarded to first US president George Washington, is given to honour “the highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions".

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Despite his heroic efforts on behalf of Hungary's Jews, the fate of Wallenberg, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday in August, remains shrouded in mystery.

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He was detained by Soviet forces in 1945 and later disappeared. In 1957, the Soviet's issued a statement saying that Wallenberg died of a heart attack in 1947, but the exact circumstances of his death remain a mystery.

Thursday's ceremonies were some of several events planned by Sweden to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Wallenberg and honour him for being "a diplomat who chose not to be indifferent and to rise to a higher moral calling" in the words of US ambassador Brzezinski.

David Landes

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Your comments about this article

16:27 April 20, 2012 by millionmileman
What! Obama must be really desperite for the Jewish vote in November, as he continues to stab Israerl in the back with his foreign policy. It's a miracle he has even heard of Raoul Wallenberg, comming from the man who being an expert on WWII history stated that his white, grandfather was one of the American troops that liberated Aushwitz! Everyone knows that the Russians liberated it on Jan 27th 1945.

I know of well what Raoul Wallenberg did in Budepest and Mr. President you are no Raoul Wallenberg!
18:10 April 20, 2012 by motti
@millionmileman. I agree. RW was a genuine person who stuck his neck out for what he believed in saving the lives of those he knew would be exterminated.

Obama is loved by European politicians, because he is what they want in an American pressie.This includes his being "black", well at least 1/2 black. Personally I would liked to have sen Martin Luther King as the first real black President. sadly, it is not what thre USA nor the western world need at this moment. Insofar as the situation in the moideast and Iran is concerned, the gulf states and Saudi Arabia are really pissed off at him for continually buckling under pressure. Now the UK, France and Germany are very concerned about Iran (if not Syria) because, very soon those Iranian misslies (thanks to North Korea) will be in range of western Europe. Oh yes, including Sweden!

May the spirit of RW continue and never to be forgotten. Unlike barmy Obama
19:12 April 20, 2012 by guliver
We celebrated yesterday the Holocaust day here and surely among the people we have to remember for ever and not stopping to investstigate what happen to Raul Wallenberg,

It is our duty the Jews of Israel and all over the world to find out what happened to him and to bring him to his last rest with an hounur of an hero .

70 years passed and we have not done enough to bring that episode to the right end.

In this day my heart and my family heart who lost all ts members in Auschwizim,belong also to Raul Wallenberg.

May God bless his memory!
19:25 April 20, 2012 by ajs42548
Unbelievable..... Here we have Obama praising Wallenberg and posters here criticize him.
19:45 April 20, 2012 by Svensksmith
The man on the right is a true hero. The man on the left will soon be a distant memory. (hopefully)
20:24 April 20, 2012 by Cornelius Hamelberg


We could make a deal here.

What you say, we confer the Nobel Prize For Peace


on your true hero

so that both our heroes

could be said to have one

Nobel Prize For Peace

20:25 April 20, 2012 by Uncle
"Unbelievable..... Here we have Obama praising Wallenberg and posters here criticize him."

Bush praised leadership of Iraq and Afghanistan and still people criticize him. How come?

Obama can kiss Jewish lobby behind every day, however it is him who is striking deals with Iran and it is him who is OK with 1 million Israelis sitting in bomb shelters, while Israel "should restrict itself with retaliation". So obviously israelis are not all of a sudden his best buddies if he praises Raul Wallenberg.

BTW, Ahmadinejad actually donated money to Tehran Jewish community. What a grand figure! All criticism shall be removed immediately...
20:45 April 20, 2012 by Svensksmith

Peace back at you.

Not sure about your deal but would love to offer the Peace Prize posthumously to the man on the left!
22:08 April 20, 2012 by Kevin Harris
An American president praises a hero of the Holocaust, on Holocaust Day, and some posters here object. It really does make one question some people's morals and motivations when they write what they do.
23:48 April 20, 2012 by 4thGenWarrior
an elitist praising and honoring an elitist- that NEVER happens- what a douche!
04:10 April 21, 2012 by swedejane
I'm convinced that if Obama declared his fondness for ice cream there would be collective pants wetting among the conservatives. He is a great president and this is a completely positive and non-controversial message of praise for a swedish hero. Nothing is required of you...just consider how someone was better than you, acted braver, and contributed to the world. You know, before you go back to your internet chat rooms, hot pockets, and porn.
09:51 April 21, 2012 by cogito
He's campaigning for the Jewish vote. That's all.
05:15 April 23, 2012 by ajs42548
"Bush praised leadership of Iraq and Afghanistan and still people criticize him. How come?"

Are you serious? Wallenberg was a great man, a hero, someone who put himself in danger to help others. Are you saying that the leaders of Iraq and Afghanistan are heroes and are great men? How can you compare the two situations with a straight face?
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