Wallenberg Institute – Soros – Sweden – South Africa – EU //…
The Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law is named after Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Jews and other people at risk in Hungary at the end of World War II. Lena Hjelm-Wallén has over 20 years of experience working in the Swedish government. A member of the Social Democratic party, she has held several cabinet posts, including as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1994 to 1998.
Sweden – South Africa : Dr Roodt
Raoul Wallenberg, born in 1912 into the renowned Swedish Wallenberg family of bankers, politicians and diplomats, graduated with honors in architecture at the University of Michigan in the United States. Upon return to Sweden in 1930’s, Raoul Wallenberg left for commercial work in South Africa and Haifa, Palestine.
In 1941, Raoul Wallenberg was appointed foreign trade representative of the Central European Trading Company whose director was Kálmán Lauer. Through Lauer, a Hungarian Jew, and his family, Wallenberg made his first acquaintance with Budapest and Hungary through visits in the country between 1941 and 1943.
OPEN SOCIETY – Open Society Initiative for Europe
Based in Brussels, we seek to enrich European Union policy debates by offering evidence, analysis, and recommendations drawn from the work of the Open Society Foundations in more than 100 countries. We also conduct our own research on political trends in Europe.
The need for the European Union’s involvement in the Western Balkans, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine has never been more acute. The European Commission’s structures are not up to the job. A new approach is needed to respond to the realities on the ground and in member states.
Using Raoul Wallenberg to Unite the EU – George Soros
Originally, the European Union was what psychologists call a “fantastic object,” a desirable goal that inspires people’s imaginations. I saw it as the embodiment of an open society: an association of nation-states that gave up part of their sovereignty for the common good and formed a union dominated by no single nation or nationality.
The euro crisis, however, has turned the EU into something radically different. Member countries are now divided into two classes — creditors and debtors — with the creditors in charge. The EU is today held together by grim necessity. That is not conducive to a harmonious partnership. The only way to reverse the trend is to recapture the spirit of solidarity that animated the European project from the start.
To that end, I recently established an Open Society Initiative for Europe, or OSIFE. In doing so, I recognized that the best place to start would be where current policies have created the greatest human suffering: Greece. The people who are suffering are not those who abused the system and caused the crisis. The fate of the many migrant and asylum seekers caught in Greece is particularly heart-rending. But their plight cannot be separated from that of the Greeks themselves. An initiative confined to migrants would merely reinforce the growing xenophobia and extremism in Greece.
I could not figure out how to approach this seemingly intractable problem until I recently visited Stockholm to commemorate the centenary of Raoul Wallenberg’s birth. This reawakened my memories of World War II — the calamity that eventually gave birth to the EU.
Wallenberg was a hero who saved the lives of many Jews in my home city of Budapest by establishing Swedish safe houses. During the German occupation, my father was also a heroic figure. He helped to save his family and friends and many others. He taught me to confront harsh reality rather than to submit to it passively. That is what gave me the idea. We could set up solidarity houses in Greece, which would serve as community centers for the local population and also provide food and shelter to migrants.
Sweden has made migration and asylum policy a high priority, while Norway is concerned about the fate of migrants in Greece. So both countries would be prime candidates to support solidarity houses. This has to be a European project — one that eventually must find its way into the European budget.
As soon as possible, I will dispatch an OSIFE needs-assessment team to Greece to work out a plan for which we can generate public support. My goal is to revive the idea of the EU as an instrument of solidarity, not only of discipline.
George Soros is chairman of Soros Fund Management and of the Open Society Institute. Project Syndicate
History — Soros
After 15 October 1944, the Eichmann commando, struggling with the shortage of railway carriages, dispatched Jews on foot from the capital to Hegyeshalom where an SS detachment took them over.
After marching more than 200 kilometers, their fate was decided by Obersturmbannführer Rudolf Höss, former commandant of the Auschwitz Camp.
A part of the population along the road to Vienna, unlike during the early summer deportations, displayed an active humanitarian stance. In many cases, they sheltered the fugitives who were in a hopeless situation. Usually, the helpers were ordinary people, with few years of education, often poor.
They accommodated the fugitive Jews (first of all, the women and girls) in Komárom, Gönyü, Győr, Kisbarát, Rajka and Vének. Some assisted providing peasant dresses or food, others by offering temporary shelter. The Arrow Cross threatened to arrest and intern the culprits. The local authorities stepped up propaganda to de-motivate the lower clergy and population from providing assistance.
Who were these exceptional persons courageous enough to help? Based on what we know of them, they were not born heroes. They were ordinary people from the countryside; farmers struggling to make ends meet, artisans, some learned and some hardly able to write down their own names. Well-intentioned housewives, young girls helping without hesitation. In other cases, medical doctors or former patients of Jewish doctors. Religious persons and non-believers, churchmen and organized workers. Close and loose acquaintances, friends and absolute strangers, former employees and servants of the persecuted Jewish families. Kind-hearted retailers with sound morals, who provided food without payment for those in hiding.
Romantic rescues took place in spite of the “Acts on Defense of the Race”. There were cases of a Christian husband following everywhere his Jewish wife, of Jewish and Christian friends helping each other during the march, in the struggle for survival, providing hope and endurance. From the testimonies of rescues, the most outstanding ones are those initiated by the rescued. Very often the persons saved compare the rescuer, who might have arrived to the scene at the very last moment, to the Angel of Life descending from heaven.
The shock of the deportations that sealed the fate of hundreds of thousands of rural Jews in the early summer, as well as the deterioration of the war situation contributed to the increased willingness of the people of Budapest to assist the victims during the winter of 1944. A number of artists wrote petitions to the authorities. Others produced “increasingly real” fake documents, offered their studios or a part of them as hiding places to fugitives. Visual artists, actors, writers and poets who condemned the Jewish Acts and the persecutions, focused mainly on rescuing, assisting, and sheltering their colleagues forced into labor service or camps.
It is worth mentioning the humanity of Vali Rácz, Klári Tolnay, Pál Pátzay, György Ruzicskay and others. For supporting and rescuing their Jewish colleagues, the Arrow Cross slandered, humiliated and detained famous actors Katalin Karády and Pál Jávor. Their popularity and fame could not protect them.
During the terror of the Arrow Cross rule, the threats to the population continued to increase. Therefore, in many places workshops, warehouses, cellars, backrooms were turned into shelters, even in the cave-dwellings in Budafok. At this last location, Erzsébet Kúpházy and her family, as well as Erzsébet Schuck assisted many, among others the writer Irén Egri and her husband. The forms of assistance included providing shelter, transferring to a safe location, supplying food, making life-saving documents and money available, pharmaceutical and medical assistance.
The Arrow Cross carried on with raids, searching apartments, looking for hiding Jews all over Budapest. Denunciations, reporting to the authorities were frequent. In many cases, men-hunters executed the rescuer along with the protected person. Many were driven to the banks of the Danube, stripped, tied together and shot into the river.
In Miskolc, ironworker Sándor Kopácsi and his family provided shelter to many persecuted. Through Jenő Winter, serving in the labor forces, they supplied fake identification documents to more than twenty. Iron turner Béla Bánhegyi in Diósgyőr sheltered Jews in his own apartment and assisted their further escape. In Nyíri, a small village of the Gönc district, farmer István Novák sheltered five, saving them from certain death. One of the survivors, Randolph L. Braham, became later a university professor in the USA and a world-renowned expert on the Holocaust.
Fugitive labor forces servicemen were sheltered in Bükkszentmárton, Eger and Vámosgyörk too. Dance teacher Elza Brandeisz sheltered many in Balatonalmádi. At the end, she had to flee along with the persons she had been protecting. At the time of liberation, she was hiding in the hay of a farm close to Herend, together with Mrs. Tivadar Soros, mother of George Soros.
Lives of deported Hungarian Jews were saved in Gmünd, Austria, where medical doctor Artur Lanc and his wife took great risks. In Enns, the Friedmanns sheltered the twenty-year old Dávid Hersch. The owner of a lumberyard, Ludwig Knapp in Weitra-Schützenberg, protected eighteen Jewish people from Szeged. Sixteen Hungarian Jews were hidden, fed and protected from peril in the village of Rohr. In Dobersberg, Rudolf Harrer and his wife, Irmgard Harrer assisted the Hungarian Jews brought there for forestry works. In Rechnitz, Franziska Hutter sheltered successfully the deported Dr. Sándor Székely from certain death.
Priest János Farkas from Deutsch-Schützen, taking great personal risk, protected the Hungarian Jewish forced laborers, hiding several of them in his parish. Among the more than hundred names on the list of Austrian Righteous Among the Nations, some two dozen received the Israeli award for rescuing Hungarian Jews.
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