Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL

The JEWISH POST remembers...
Raoul Wallenberg: A hero without a grave...

"His intervention gave hope to victims, encouraged them to fight and resist, to hang on and bear witness. It aroused our collective consciousness. Remembering his life should be an inspiration to others to act; for our future generations to act; for all of us to act." Kofi A. Annan, UN Secretary General

By now, people in most parts of the world have heard about Raoul Wallenberg's extraordinary rescue action on behalf of the Hungarian Jews during World War II. Recent documentaries about him, produced in a number of countries, have contributed to public awareness of his role. But the 1985 American TV miniseries Wallenberg, which has been seen by many millions of people all over the globe, has been particularly important in this regard. During my lecture tours both in Sweden and abroad as part of the international effort to secure Raoul's release from the Soviet Union, I have often been asked how it was possible to save such a large number of people-about 100,0000-from the Nazi executions. The most important answer: Raoul Wallenbeerg was the right man in the right place, given the situation then prevailing. Although he was not the heroic type in the ordinary sense, he was a fearless, skilled negotiator and organizer. He was, moreover, a good actor, a talent that served him well during his clashes with the Nazis. He could also show two different personalities.

In these dark and cynical times, when there is so very little for mankind to believe in, when the historian and the investigative reporter have trained us to expect the worst of the great, it is little wonder that the world does not quite know what to make of Raoul Wallenberg - or that too many governments have chosen to maintain a shameful silence. Sadly, noble words are robbed of their meaning. We hear him called "righteous Gentile," "hero of the Holocaust," "unsung martyr of World War II." Now and then some scholar addresses himself anew to the question of how and by what means Wallenberg managed to save one hundred thousand lives, or probes the psychosocial impulses which compelled him to forsake wealth and ease and undertake so dangerous a mission. But when we have set down the last pious platitude, made our tallies and pondered his motives, something in Raoul Wallenberg still eludes us. He remains a mystery, as do all pure-souled, whole-hearted, thoroughly moral men. We are left only with the everlasting memory of what he did - and what Raoul Wallenberg did was to fulfill, as none in his time would or could, the terms of the contract which binds each of us to humanity. The Talmud summed up that contract in these words: "Whoever saves a single soul, it is as if he saved the whole world." Therefore we must do more than cling to his memory. We must proclaim to all the nations that Raoul Wallenberg lives, tirelessly champion his cause, tirelessly press for news of his fate - till the day, if it please God, that Raoul Wallenberg returns to us from the long, bitter totalitarian night.

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