Special to the JTA Call for Permanent Wallenberg Site in Budapest Gets Favorable Response from Hunga

A delegation of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal’s mission of remembrance and renewal met here with Deputy Premier Istvan Sarlos and urged that the government of Hungary establish a permanent memorial on Raoul Wallenberg Street which is situated in the heart of the area where the Swedish diplomat sheltered tens of thousands of Jews in “safe houses” during the last months of World War II.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, Wiesenthal Center dean and head of the delegation, said that as a result of Wallenberg’s action, hundreds of thousands of people owe him a debt of gratitude. The placing of a memorial will provide these people with a place to light a candle or to place a bouquet of flowers. “After all, Raoul Wallenberg not only saved 100,000 Jewish lives, he redeemed the good name of Hungary by thwarting the plans of Nazi fascists to eliminate the entire Hungarian Jewish community.”

Wiesenthal officials, who were here last week on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the destruction of the Hungarian Jewish community, told Sarlos that the delegation went to Raoul Wallenberg Street to honor the “lost hero of the Holocaust” and spent much of their time trying to locate an appropriate spot to place the commemorative candle and bouquet of flowers which they had brought with them. A number of neighborhood residents who knew and remembered Wallenberg joined in the emotion-filled ceremony and tried to help place the candle and flowers.

VENTURE CONSIDERED WORTHY

In response, Sarlos indicated that Hungary had recognized Wallenberg’s great deeds by naming a street after him. He added, however, “What I can promise you is … yes, there can be created in the street a memorial place where a wreath or a bouquet can be laid or a candle can be lit.”

The Deputy Prime Minister, whose responsibilities include dealing with all churches and religious groups in the country, added: “… and I would regard it worthy to consider where we could find a place to create a so-called shrine or ceremonial, memorial place in his honor.”

The Wiesenthal Center delegation thanked the Hungarian government for its progressive policies regarding its 100,000 Jewish citizens, which allows the Jewish community to carry on a vibrant and autonomous cultural and religious life, and expressed the hope that it would serve as a model for the other Eastern bloc countries.

They also urged Hungary to re-establish full diplomatic relations with Israel, pointing out that such a move would further demonstrate Hungary’s continuing efforts toward a distinctly unique and positive relationship with the world Jewish community.

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