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A Unanimous Senate Awards Wallenberg Congressional Gold Medal

By:
Raoul Wallenberg

Raoul Wallenberg

The U.S. Senate voted unanimously to award Raoul Wallenberg the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award given by Congress.

The vote was part of an effort to confer the honor upon Wallenberg in time for the 100th anniversary of his birth in August. The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved awarding the medal in April. The measure now goes to President Obama for his signature.

“Raoul Wallenberg’s courageous actions were a shining example of selfless heroism at a time when others stood mute in the face of unimaginable horror,” said Kathy Manning, chairwoman of the Board of Trustees of The Jewish Federations of North America, which had led advocacy for the medal. “That this legislation passed with such broad bipartisan support is a reflection of how deserving Raoul Wallenberg is of the Congressional Gold Medal.”

The legislation was introduced in September by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.).

Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat in Budapest during the German occupation in 1944, issued Swedish travel documents – known as “Wallenberg passports” – to at least 20,000 Jews, and also set up more than 30 safe houses for Jews. Other diplomats from neutral countries collaborated in the effort.

The details of Wallenberg’s fate have remained a mystery. He disappeared while being escorted out of Hungary to the Soviet Union. The Soviets claimed that he died of a heart attack in 1957, but other evidence indicated that he was killed in Lubyanka prison or that he may have lived years longer.

The Congressional Gold Medal has been conferred since the American Revolution to honor “the highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.” It was first awarded to George Washington.

Awardees need not be Americans. Past honorees include Simon Wiesenthal, Natan and Avital Sharansky, the Dalai Lama, and Burmese democracy movement leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

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5 Responses to “A Unanimous Senate Awards Wallenberg Congressional Gold Medal”

  1. Rc Fowler says:

    This is good but–the Israeli government is and has been for decades–destroying Jewish people within Israel–destroying them with genocidal murder–destroying them by giving into the Murdering Islamic Arabs!

  2. Gil Gilman says:

    At the beginning of 1944, there were more than 700,00 Jews in Hungary. One year later there were only 113,000, the rest other than perhaps 5,000 who left Hungary with Wallenberg's Swedish passes, having been deported by the Nazi death squads.

    The 20,000 figure is arrived at in this manner. 15,000 residing in Swedish Safe Houses displaying the Swedish flag and thus protected by Diplomatic means plus 1000+, working or living, in the Swedish Legation, plus 4500+ who had received the first Swedish passes. The Soviets found 97,000 Jews living in the Ghetto in January 1945, that plus the 16,000 protected by the Swedes equals 113,000. So in actuality, Wallenberg and his cohorts are directly responsible for saving more than 100,000 Jewish lives, through diplomacy, bribes, and outright extortion, while the rest of the diplomatic corps from other countries did little or nothing for European Jews…with notable exceptions. In other words if these other ambassadors had been anything other than pompous windbags, much more could have been done. As it was of the 10.5 million European Jews before the onset of the Final Solution, there remained a mere 3.5 million after the war.

    Surely Raoul Wallenberg is the bravest person of the 20th Century, in Europe or elsewhere and deserves all the accolades he has been posthumously given. He did not act alone, he had allies in the Jews employed by the legation, P'al Szalay from the police, Per Anger, the diplomat who began issuing the Swedish passes, and even the King of Sweden. But how many of them ran across the top of Nazi death trains, shoving passes into the hands of those destined for Auschwitz while the Nazis had their machine guns blazing on orders to shoot him? Let Indiana Jones top that! Had they known he had Jewish ancestry, maybe their aim would have been better.

    So then Hitler and his minions, didn't bump him off. Stalin who had a half million Jews in his Red Army did the deed, and then wasn't man enough to own up to it.

  3. תודה על השיעור בהיסטוריה. (I hope it's correct)

  4. I suppose I should stick to English.
    Thank you for the lesson in history.

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