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Warsaw remembers Raoul Wallenberg

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 24.05.2012 12:34
A conference took place at Warsaw's Jewish Theatre this week on the life of Raoul Wallenberg, born 100 years ago this year, who tried to save the lives of tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary during WW II.

photo - PAP/Rafal Guz

The conference, “Man in a brutal reality”, on Monday, was in honour of the architect, businessman and diplomat for his work in trying to save Jews by providing them with Swedish documentation and safe houses.

Wallenberg insisted that drastic measures were needed to save Jewish lives from extermination and numerous eye-witness reports described him as “courageous” when facing the Nazis while serving as Sweden's special diplomatic envoy in Budapest.

Wallenberg was detained on suspicion of espionage by the Soviet Red Army in 1945, after the Nazis fled Hungary, and it is believed that he was taken back to Moscow where he reportedly died on 17 July 1945 in the feared KGB Lubyanka prison.

The circumstances of his imprisonment and death remain obscure to this day, however.

The special conference devoted to the life of Wallenberg this week was led by former Israeli ambassador to Poland, Professor Shevah Weiss and was attended by luminaries in the field of Polish-Jewish relations such as former Auschwitz survivor and Polish foreign minister Professor Władysław Bartoszewski.

The event was organized by the Hungarian Embassy in Poland, the Hungarian Cultural Institute in Poland, the Israeli embassy in Poland, the Swedish embassy in Poland, and the Jewish Theatre of Warsaw.

In addition to the debate, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews conducted educational workshops focusing on the life of Raoul Wallenberg and the ceremonies ended with a musical performance by the Budapest Odessa Klezmer Band.

Statue defaced

The conference came a day before a statue in Budapest of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, was defaced.

The statue had five severed pigs’ feet strung on rope, one of them positioned by Wallenberg’s head.

The Hungarian government has condemned the "brutal defilement" of the Wallenberg monument and the "degradation" of his memory. (pg)

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