Our duty to speak up against intolerance

Statue R. Wallenberg in Tel Aviv. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrived 22 January 2013

Statue R. Wallenberg in Tel Aviv. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 22 January 2013

Today, we honour the memory of the holocaust by an important ceremony at the European Parliament. In connection to this event, Raoul Wallenberg is assigned a room in the European Parliament named after him, and I am very proud to inaugurate this room. The room is named after him to honour his memory and his life-saving contributions by the end of the Second World War, when saving thousands of Jews from deportation to the concentration camps. Olle Wästberg, responsible for the Raoul Wallenberg Year in Sweden during 2012, came up with this idea which was then brought to the Parliament by the MEP Olle Schmidt (ALDE).

In the beginning of the 1940s, Raoul Wallenberg worked for a company exporting food between Hungary and Sweden. Through his good contacts he had the opportunity to carry out a rescue action as Swedish representative for an American rescue project which aimed at providing Hungarian Jews with protective passports and safe accommodation, in order to save them from the deportation to the camps. It is difficult to grasp the scale of the deportations during these years. The situation was critical when Raoul Wallenberg started in July 1944. During only two months, from May to June 1944, more than 400 000 Jews had been deported. In his work as a Swedish diplomat, he saved heroically tens of thousands of Jews from a certain death. In January 1945, he was captured by Soviet troops and was held prisoner until his death, probably in 1947.

Why is it so important that we commemorate and honour Raoul Wallenberg? Because of his efforts in Hungary, because of the lives he saved, but also because of his courage to stand up for democracy, freedom and human rights. He used his power as a diplomat in a flexible and innovative way in order to save as many lives as possible. He worked against the dictatorship and had to pay with his life for this. He is a true role model and source of inspiration, which demonstrates that one person actually can make a difference. By taking our own personal responsibility and by working in our daily life towards the values that Raoul Wallenberg represented, we are honouring his contributions. We do this, by continuing to speak against any form of suppression and persecution, any form of intolerance and anti-democratic movements.

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