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Celebrating the Courage and Vision of Raoul Wallenberg

In 2001, Parliament Declared January 17th as Special Day

By: David Shear
Published: January 17th, 2013 in News » World
Raoul Wallenberg

Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish architect, businessman, diplomat and humanitarian. He is widely celebrated for his successful efforts to rescue tens of thousands to about one hundred thousand Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary during the Holocaust from Hungarian Fascists and the Nazis during the later stages of World War II While serving as Sweden's special envoy in Budapest between July and December 1944, Wallenberg issued protective passports and sheltered Jews in buildings designated as Swedish territory saving tens of thousands of lives.

In 1985 Raoul Wallenberg became Canada’s first honorary citizen. In 2001, Parliament declared January 17 Raoul Wallenberg Day.

In honour of this important date, The Honourable Jason Kenney, Canada’sMinister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, issued the following statement.

“Each year on this day, Canadians pay tribute to one of the greatest heroes in history. At great personal risk, and with remarkable ingenuity and courage, Raoul Wallenberg helped rescue over 100,000 Hungarian Jews from certain death at the hands of the Nazis and their allies. During the Holocaust, Raoul Wallenberg saved more Jews than any other single organization or government.

“Raoul Wallenberg was a prominent non-Jewish Swedish businessman who was posted as a diplomat to Budapest, Hungary, during the Second World War. On January 17, 1945, Soviet forces captured Raoul Wallenberg as the Red Army marched through Hungary. To this day, his fate remains unknown.

“In recognition of his heroic achievements, Raoul Wallenberg became Canada’s first honorary citizen in 1985. In 2001, Parliament declared January 17 Raoul Wallenberg Day.

“This past autumn, I had the honour to meet members of Mr. Wallenberg’s family at Canada’s embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, for the official naming of the ‘Raoul Wallenberg Room.’ That same month, I paid respects to Mr. Wallenberg and his heroic actions at the official memorials in Sweden and Hungary.

“Today, Canada Post will issue a commemorative stamp to recognize Mr. Wallenberg’s exceptional courage. Also, this year Ottawa and Toronto are hosting the exhibit “To Me there’s no Other Choice,” which presents Raoul Wallenberg’s role in saving Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust.

“As we pay tribute to this brave hero, we remember the unique horror of the Holocaust and rededicate ourselves to combating anti-Semitism, racism and all other forms of discrimination.

“The Government of Canada is committed to preserving Raoul Wallenberg’s legacy of self-sacrifice and to continuing our proactive role in the international fight against anti-Semitism.

“This year, beginning in March, Canada will chair the Swedish-founded International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance under the leadership of Dr. Mario Silva, a former Member of Parliament.

“As Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I encourage all Canadians to help combat anti-Semitism, learn more about Raoul Wallenberg, and be inspired by his heroism and selfless spirit.”

In Toronto, David Koschitzky, Chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, issued the following statement:

“Raoul Wallenberg is one of the 20th century’s great humanitarians who, despite great personal risk, fought a strenuous and dangerous campaign to save thousands of Jews during the Holocaust,” said Koschitzky. “By using his political influence, Wallenberg was able to secure passports and a safe haven for thousands of condemned Hungarian Jews, some of whom made Canada their adopted home following the War. It is with good reason that in 1985 Raoul Wallenberg became Canada’s first honorary citizen.

“Wallenberg lived up to the highest ideals of Canadian citizenship and taught us that a single person of great integrity can make a profound difference toward creating a more just and fair world for all. He reminds us never to lapse into indifference toward the persecution of others and to speak out for the defenseless. It is both our duty and our obligation to follow the example of this righteous man.”

Related articles: Raoul Wallenberg, Parliament, Special Day, January 17th, Holocaust, jewish, Nazi, World War II
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