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Raoul Wallenberg: Disappeared Hero of the Holocaust

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17.01.2020

This week marks an important moment of remembrance and reminder, of bearing witness and of taking action.

Friday is the 75th anniversary of the disappearance of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, presaging the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the most brutal extermination camp of the 20th century.

75 years later, the international drumbeat of evil and indifference can still feel overwhelming, with the international community too often a bystander to atrocity and injustice. How appropriate, then, that January 17, the day of Wallenberg’s disappearance in the Soviet gulag in 1945, has been designated Raoul Wallenberg Commemorative Day internationally in honor of this disappeared hero, who is also an honorary citizen of Israel, Canada, Australia and the United States.

Wallenberg, a non-Jewish Swedish diplomat, was a beacon of light during the darkest days of the Holocaust, and his inspiration remains so today. Prior to his arrival to the Swedish legation in Budapest in mid-July 1944, some 440,000 Hungarian Jews had been deported to Auschwitz in 10 weeks – the fastest, cruelest and most efficient mass murder of the Holocaust. Yet Wallenberg rescued some 100,000 Jews in Hungary in the last six months of 1944, demonstrating that one person with the compassion to care, and the courage to act, can confront evil, prevail and transform history.

I witnessed the celebration of Wallenberg’s heroism in Stockholm during the centennial year of his birth in 2012, in an international exhibit titled, in Wallenberg’s own immortal words, “To me there is no other choice,” reflecting his singular courage and commitment.

Canada, Israel and the........

© Haaretz