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Raoul Wallenberg’s 100th Birthday Celebrated

Sweden marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazis.

The event, sponsored by the Raoul Wallenberg Academy, was held Saturday in Sigtuna, located north of Stockholm.

“Those who knew how to confront hate and who saved lives were perhaps unable to prevent the evil and the destruction, but their memories should be cherished as strongly as possible,” Hungarian Human Resources Minister Zoltan Balog said at the ceremony.

The Kaddish memorial prayer was recited for Wallenberg.

Swedish Democracy Minister Birgitta Ohlsson called for an annual remembrance day for Wallenberg in an opinion piece in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

Wallenberg, a neutral 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 neutral diplomats collaborated in the effort.

The details of Wallenberg’s fate have remained a mystery. He disappeared while being escorted out of Hungary toward 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.

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

Wallenberg events also were held in Budapest, Moscow and Berlin.

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