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Introduction to Ceremony in Honour of Raoul Wallenberg by the Swedish State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Jan Eliasson
Introductory Remarks at the Ceremony in Honour of Raoul Wallenberg by the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anna Lindh
Speech at the Ceremony by Ambassador Per Anger
Speech at the Ceremony by Dr. Kati Marton
Speech at the Ceremony by Ambassador Per Anger
Speech by Ambassador Per Anger
Your Excellencies, Honoured Guests,
On the 19th of March, 1944 Hitler’s armies occupied Hungary and forced Hungary to fight more efficiently on the east front and to take stronger steps against the Jewish population. The final solution had so far not yet reached Hungary. That was when the Hungarian Jews realised their doomsday. In bigger numbers they started to queue up outside the neutral embassies in Budapest pleading for help outside the Swedish embassy, where I was stationed, and outside the Swiss, the Portuguese, the Spanish and the Vatican representation. We could not do very much to start with, we did not know what to do, but something had to be done and that quickly, so we started to issue provisional passports and certificates to quite a number of people, all who had some kind of relationship with Sweden, businesswise or familywise. But the people at the entrance only increased and we could not coop with the situation. We managed to save a couple of hundred people through these certificates stating that the holder had got a visa for Sweden and was under the protection of the Swedish government. Of course it was very doubtful the legal value of these documents, but anyhow, the Nazis were impressed by the certificates by the Embassy with all the stamps and the ambassador’s signature.
We could not coop with the increasing number and we sent for help of more staff from Stockholm. What we had in mind first was to have Folke Bernadotte coming with a Red Cross Delegation, but he never got permission or visa by the Germans so that plan was out. But in the meantime in Stockholm the representatives for the World Jewish Congress, the War Refugee Board and the American Embassy negotiated with the Swedish Foreign Ministry to send someone with diplomatic status to Budapest to organise relief work along broader lines with the financial help of the War Refugee Board of the United States.
And so Raoul Wallenberg was sent to Budapest. He arrived on the 9th of July 1944. I received him there, I knew him before, he was a very good friend from younger days in Stockholm, so I knew that he was the right man for this mission. He was a very clever negotiator and organiser. He had a very good heart. He was a born humanitarian. So when I explained to him what we had done so far, he said, "Well, these certificates we could perhaps make them still better." So he on the spot designed these "skyddspass", these protective passports. They were going to be the salvation for thousands and thousands of people. And he made the passports in the Swedish colours, with the Swedish Coat of Arms and with the ambassador’s signature. And he also managed to get the permission from the Hungarian government to issue these passports and these holders went to the Swedish houses which he had bought or rented with the financial help of the United States.
But it is not only through these actions that he became a legend. It was also above all his personal activities, when he went to the railway stations and stopped the trains and bluffed and had them opened. Even those who did not have Swedish passport but all other kinds of documents in the Hungarian language, which the Germans did not understand, he managed to get out hundreds of people now and then. I admired his inventiveness, he always found solutions for saving people. And the same thing during the death marches, when the Jews were forced to march that long road between Budapest and the Austrian-Hungarian border - 300 km in the snow, where many of them died on the way and those who managed to survive were handed over to the Eichmann commando at the border to be transported to Auschwitz.
So even there Raoul Wallenberg managed to get quite a number sent back to Budapest to our Sweden houses. Even there he used all his inventiveness, through his appearance and his personality.
But you always ask the question, how on earth could Raoul Wallenberg and we save Jewish people in front of the Germans? After all this was an occupied country. But the answer is, if you look back in history, that specially towards the end of the war the Germans were anxious and did not want to violate their diplomatic relations with Sweden. They needed Sweden in the north as a breathing hole.
That was the explanation that they never really stopped our activities and that we in the extraordinary situation managed to do all this. But the absolute explanation to the success is that we and Raoul Wallenberg were all diplomats. We had a tradition in the Swedish embassy with the ambassador at the top which was respected by the Germans.
The last time I saw Raoul Wallenberg was on the 10th of January 1945 when he came to where we were staying and we were all hiding because the Nazis attacked the Embassy at Christmas time. I tried to convince him to hide, because the Nazis were after him. But then he gave the typical answer, "I could never do that, I could never return to Stockholm without knowing that I had done everything I could to help as many people as possible". He left and went over to the east side where he had his office. Three days later he was arrested and brought to prison in Moscow.
Today Raoul Wallenberg is known all over the world as one of the greatest humanitarians in modern time. Innumerable tributes have been paid to him. Monuments have been erected in many countries honouring him. All these tributes will for ever testify to Raoul Wallenberg’s deeds. Through his righteous acts he has become a symbol of the struggle for human rights and for dignity of Man.
Thank you very much
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Opening Session: Messages and speeches
Plenary Sessions: Messages and speeches
Workshops, Panels and Seminars
Closing Session and Declaration
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