SYDNEY (JTA) — Raoul Wallenberg, who helped save as many as 100,000 Jews during the Holocaust, will be made an honorary Australian citizen, the country’s first such honor.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard made the announcement Monday about honoring the late Swedish diplomat.
“This is the first time that Australia has bestowed such an honor,” she said in a statement. “The lives of those he rescued are Mr. Wallenberg’s greatest memorial and Australia is honored to have survivors he rescued living in Australia today.”
Governor-General Quentin Bryce will host the presentation of a certificate of honorary Australian citizenship at Government House in Canberra on May 6 during a celebration of the centenary of Wallenberg’s birth.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott welcomed the award.
“The ceremony at Government House will recognize Raoul Wallenberg’s remarkable service to humanity and provide an opportunity for Holocaust survivors and their families to honor his memory,” he said.
Wallenberg, who was a 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.
He has been recognized as an honorary citizen of the United States, Canada, Hungary and Israel, and the Israeli Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem honored Wallenberg as a Righteous Among the Nations.