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Australian human rights award named in Wallenberg’s honor

SYDNEY (JTA) – Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who helped save as many as 100,000 Jews during the Holocaust, was honored in Australia.

New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell marked the centenary since Wallenberg’s birth Wednesday by announcing an annual human rights award in Wallenberg’s name.

“It is important the New South Wales Government pays tribute to a person who has made lasting and meaningful contributions to the advancement of human rights,” O’Farrell said.

Among the speakers at the New South Wales Parliament House were the ambassadors of Sweden, Hungary and Israel, as well as George Farkas, a retired lawyer in Sydney who believes his father, John — Wallenberg’s right-hand man in Budapest — was the last person in the West to see him before he was captured by the Soviets in January 1945.

"It is imperative that we never forget and honor incredible heroes like Raoul Wallenberg, who represent everything that is decent, humane and honorable and who, at the price of their own life, stood up against evil when it really counted," Farkas said.

Vic Alhadeff, chief executive of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, said that “The New South Wales Human Rights Award in his name is wonderful recognition of a man who was one of the true heroes of the 20th century.”

Wallenberg set up safe houses and issued travel documents that saved tens of thousands of Jews. His fate after his capture and the circumstances of his death remain a mystery.

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