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Ambassador Vilma S. Martínez leads commemoration of Raoul Wallenberg

February 8, 2010
Ambassador Martinez at the ceremony with Nicholas Tozer (member of the foundation), Rabbi Salomón Ben Hamú and Monsignor Oscar Sarlinga

Ambassador Martinez at the ceremony with Nicholas Tozer (member of the foundation), Rabbi Salomón Ben Hamú and Monsignor Oscar Sarlinga

Ambassador Vilma S. Martínez was invited by the Board of the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation in Buenos Aires to be the central speaker at an event marking the 65th year of Wallenberg's disappearance into the custody o Soviet forces following their defeat of the Third Reich in Hungary.  Wallenberg, a Swedish businessman and later diplomat, was the second person designated honorary United States citizen by the United States Congress. 

Wallenberg is credited with saving as many as 100,000 Hungarian Jews from death through a variety of unconventional and risky efforts during the second half of 1944.  He was supported in his efforts by the Swedish Government as well as by the World Jewish Congress, the United States Government, and many private individuals.  The Wallenberg Foundation celebrates an event annually under a the event under his statue in Buenos Aires on or around the anniversary of his disappearance, on January 17, 1945.  His fate has never been definitively determined.

"In 1981, the United States Congress named Wallenberg one of only two, to that date, "honorary citizens". The other was Sir Winston Churchill.  Wallenberg's designation by the U.S. Congress was grounded in the ideals he represented, specifically his courageous personal stand against racism, injustice, and genocide," said Ambassador Martínez. 

"Raoul Wallenberg gave us an unparalleled profile in courage.  He and the many he inspired in the waning days of World War II saved thousands of Hungary's Jews from the Holocaust.  We honor him as a man who chose to do the right thing in a desperate time," said Ambassador Martínez, "and we must all take from his life a lesson in standing up to racism and injustice."  

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