August 4 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. As Sweden’s envoy in Budapest, Hungary, during World War II, Wallenberg issued passports and sheltered Jews in Swedish-controlled buildings, effectively saving tens of thousands from extermination by the Nazis.
In January 1945, Wallenberg was detained by Soviet officials and was never seen again. Various reports say he was killed in custody soon after or that the Soviet Union continued to hold him in prison for decades. His disappearance remains a mystery.
Wallenberg should be remembered for embodying humanitarian ideals of the highest level. At great risk to his own safety, Wallenberg demonstrated a remarkable courage in his selfless actions. His moral fiber was of the highest caliber.
B’nai B’rith strongly supported legislation, passed last month, awarding Wallenberg the Congressional Gold Medal— the highest civilian award bestowed by Congress.
We were pleased to see President Obama sign into law the Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Celebration Act, ensuring Wallenberg receives an honor that he richly deserved.