Raoul Wallenberg honored at Swedish embassy in Buenos Aires

Marcy Oster

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — In the 70th anniversary year of his disappearance in Russia, Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust, was honored at Sweden’s embassy in Buenos Aires.

Wednesday’s tribute organized by Argentina’s Raoul Wallenberg Foundation and the Swedish embassy in Argentina, was led by Tomas Kertesz, a survivor of the Budapest ghetto who met with Wallenberg in his effort to save Jews; the Swedish Ambassador to Argentina Gufran Al-Nadaf; and the Jewish-Argentine writer Marcos Aguinis.


“In June 1944, at age 32, Raoul Wallenberg arrived in Hungary to save Jews, as a result of a request made to President Roosevelt by a group of Jews in the United States including, among others, Albert Einstein and Dr. Koloman Lauer, a businessman who knew Raoul. While Adolf Eichmann started to use in Hungary everything he had learned in Poland, France, Greece, and Ukraine, and searched the whole country to deport the last Jews, Wallenberg invented special Swedish passports, the Schutz-Pass, as safe conducts for the Jews of Budapest. Wallenberg hired 350 Jews in the embassy and I worked there with him. There he distributed passports to the Jews. Every member of my family member received one,” said survivor Tomas Kertesz. But Wallenberg was unable to save Kertesz’ parents.

“We lived until December 30, 1944 in Pest, one of the Swedish extraterritorial buildings. The murder of the Jews of Budapest, initiated by Eichmann, was to be completed by the Nazis, themselves Hungarians. Because someone managed to escape and notify Wallenberg, he reached the edge of the river, with the intention of preventing a slaughter of Jews. When asked about his protégés Wallenberg replied: “For the last ten minutes, these Jews have been floating in the river. In these bloody waters were my parents” added Kertesz, a Hungarian architect who is one of the”Children of the Shoah”, the surviving children of the Holocaust, of which there remain about 100,000 throughout the world.

The Swedish ambassador warned about the current situation in Europe: “We have learned much of what happened during World War II, but it nevertheless does not seem so bad considering what is happening today in the world. We would need many more Wallenbergs. Today we see a world where anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and anti-Gypsyism are growing, especially in Europe. Today more than ever we need people and diplomats such as Raoul Wallenberg and his impressive acts,” Al Nadaf said.

The Wallenberg Foundation was founded by the Argentinian Baruch Tenembaum and the current chairman is Argentinian-Armenian businessman Eduardo Eurnekian. The foundation, headquartered in Buenos Aires, has offices in Israel, the United States and Germany