Raoul Wallenberg, Holocaust hero and Australia’s first honorary citizen, formally pronounced dead.

November 4, 2016 by Sophie Deutsch
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Sweden’s Tax Agency, which registers births and deaths, has officially pronounced the death of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg.

Raoul Wallenberg

Raoul Wallenberg

But 71 years after his disappearance in Nazi-occupied Hungary, the circumstances of Raoul Wallenberg’s death remain unresolved.

After helping 20,000 Hungarian Jews to escape deportation, Wallenberg was arrested by the Red Army in 1945 on suspicion of espionage. Over a decade later, the Soviets said Wallenberg had died of a heart attack in prison on July 17, 1947, but the time and circumstances of Wallenberg’s death have never been confirmed.

The agency’s decision to pronounce his death was triggered by an application from Wallenberg’s trustee. Pia Gustafsson, the head of the agency’s legal department, stated that the date of Wallenberg’s death had been formally set as July 31, 1952. Under Swedish law, missing persons presumed to have passed away are declared dead five years after their disappearance.

Wallenberg Memorial in Woollahra, Sydney

Wallenberg Memorial in Woollahra, Sydney

Wallenberg’s formidable rescue efforts began in July 1944, after his arrival in Budapest as a diplomat. By issuing tens of thousands of Jews with Swedish protective passes, many were able to flee the country and escape deportation. The “Swedish Schindler” also acquired buildings which he declared as extraterritorial, clothing them in Swedish national flags. Almost 10,000 people sought refuge in Wallenberg’s safe havens.

Famously quoted for his righteous words, “I will never be able to go back to Sweden without knowing inside myself that I’d done all a man could do to save as many Jews as possible”, Wallenberg was honoured with multiple humanitarian tributes upon his presumed death.

 A Raoul Wallenberg monument in Melbourne

A Raoul Wallenberg monument in Melbourne

United States President Ronald Reagan pronounced Wallenberg as an honorary American citizen in 1981 – a distinguished title previously held only by Winston Churchill.

Decades later, in 2013 Australia officially made Wallenberg its first honorary citizen in recognition of the Holocaust hero’s rescue operation. Many Jews saved by Wallenberg eventually took up residency in the Great Southern Land.

Wallenberg’s family said that the “declaration of death is a way to deal with the trauma we lived through, to bring one phase to closure and move on”. After spending decades trying to establish the circumstances surrounding his disappearance, they now wish to “Let Raoul rest in peace”.

There is a large monument at Kew Junction in a Raoul Wallenberg Garden maintained by the Boroondara Council, a sculpture by the late internationally acclaimed Austrian sculptor Karl Duldig and another monument at the St Kilda Town Hall and in a number of trees with plaques in public parks in Hawthorn and Caulfield.  Most recently, Australia Post released a 70 cent Raoul Wallenberg postage stamp last year in a series of three humanitarians – the other two were Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela.  Raoul Wallenberg Unit of B’nai B’rith together with Max Stern & Co and Australia Post released a Raoul Wallenberg stamp sheet in a limited edition of 1,000 in 2010 to coincide with the Unit’s 25th anniversary.

Comments

2 Responses to “Raoul Wallenberg, Holocaust hero and Australia’s first honorary citizen, formally pronounced dead.”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    I introduced Raoul earlier this evening to CathnewsNZ but hasn’t been published so far in relation to his Lutherism and the hundreds of Hungarian Jewish lives he saved during the Holocaust. http://www.raoulwallenberg.org/raoulwallenberg_aheroforourtime.htm.html

    https://cathnews.co.nz/2016/11/04/martin-luthers-antisemitism/

    • Lynne Newington says:

      ….. obviously not interested.
      Maybe due to the fact he was a Lutheren and not conducive to anti-Semnism as Martin Luther a defector of Rome their record now under scrutiny and sainthood of Pius on the back bench.
      The Interfaithers just have to work a little harder I quess.

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