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Support Growing for Jewish Community’s Call to Declare Wallenberg Canadian Honorary Citizen

May 9, 1984
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Support for the Jewish community’s call on the government to declare Raoul Wallenberg an honorary citizen of Canada is growing, it was reported by the League of Human Rights of B’nai B’rith Canada which intitiated the call.

The Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, the Swedish-Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Chinese-Canadian National Council, and the Federation Internationale des Droits de L’homme (International Federation for Human Rights) have added their voices to the request, in separate letters to Secretary of State Serge Joyal. The League of B’nai B’rith had asked the government to honor Wallenberg for his heroic efforts in rescuing 100,000 Jews in Hungary from death at the hands of the Nazis during World War II.

Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat, was arrested by the Soviet Union after it routed the Germans from Budapest. Despite a Soviet claim in 1957 that Wallenberg died of a heart attack in prison 10 years earlier, reports that he is alive have surfaced as recently as 1978.

“We believe Wallenberg’s devotion to the highest humanitarian ideals, ideals which Canadians fought and died for, warrants such a recognition,” said George Preger, chairman of the Swedish-Canadian Chamber of Commerce whose member organizations do more than one billion dollars worth of business each year. The Chamber of Commerce also sent a telegram to the Soviet government requesting that Wallenberg be set free.

Dr. Lilian Ma, president of the Chinese-Canadian National Council, said, “As Chinese Canadians, we support the call to have Raoul Wallenberg named honorary citizen of Canada, and believe such a move will help to affirm the principles of peace and equality in Canadian society.”

Wallenberg was declared an honorary citizen of the United States in 1981, only the second foreigner accorded that honor. The first was Winston Churchill. Wallenberg, who has also been nominated several times for the Nobel Prize since Albert Einstein first nominated him in 1948, is up for this year’s Nobel Prize as well.

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