Two monuments for a courageous man
In 1944 the Swedish government sent 31 -year old diplomat Wallenberg to Budapest, where he dedicated himself to saving 100,000 Jewish citizens from deportation to Auschwitz, using false Swedish passports. In 1945 the Soviet secret service kidnapped Wallenberg, suspecting him of espionage. He was to spend two years in various Soviet prisons; after 1947 the trail runs cold. The role of the Swedish government in this affair is not a particularly glorious one.
Wallenberg’s disappearance was ignored, as were offers on the part of the Soviet government for an exchange of prisoners. For ten years, a Soviet-Swedish research team tried to resolve Wallenberg’s whereabouts, yet to this day the fate of this courageous man is unknown.
The Soviet Union claimed that Wallenberg, incarcerated at Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, died on July 17, 1947, of a heart attack, The New York Times wrote in 2000. However, he reportedly was interrogated six days after the date Russia claims Wallenberg died, according to others studying his case. A special commission investigating victims of Russian leader Joseph Stalin’s political terror said he was executed at Lubyanka prison at KGB headquarters.
So in a way, it’s quite fitting that Raoul Wallenberg torg on Nybroplan is not marked on many maps. On the other hand, there are actually two monuments here to this quiet hero. The twelve reclining bronze sculptures created by Danish artist Kirsten Ortwed in 2001 met with little enthusiasm. Despite the fact that Wallenberg’s family was given a say in the design, on completion his sister remarked that the sculptures looked like twelve ugly stones. At least the artist cast Wallenberg’s signature in bronze, as a reminder of the thousands of passports he signed that would save Hungarian Jews from the extermination camps.
This message, however, was apparently not deemed to be clear enough by the Jewish community, whose synagogue is around the corner and who therefore erected a second monument in 2006. A stone sphere bears Wallenberg’s name and the phrase: “The road straight when Jews were deported to death. The road was winding, dangerous and full of obstacles when Jews were trying to escape murderers.” A symbolic path with cobblestones, outlined with train tracks, from the Budapest ghetto leads from here in the direction of the synagogue.
A ceremony is held in the square on the memorial day of the Holocaust on January 27 each year.
At Gustav-Adolf tort, right in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, another monument to Raoul Wallenberg was inaugurated in 2012. A bronze diplomat’s briefcase bearing the initials R.W. on a bench of black granite. A matching monument entitled “Hope” by the artist couple Kratz can be found in front of the UN Headquarters in New York.
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