Baruch Tenembaum

Raoul Wallenberg’s legacy lives on

Raoul Wallenberg at the Swedish Legation in Budapest. Photo: Wikipedia

Today, we mark the 111th birthday of Raoul Wallenberg, one of the most outstanding and tragic heroes of WWII.

His extraordinary life-saving feats in wartime Hungary will always be remembered. Thanks to his efforts in a relatively short period, between July 9th, 1944 and January 17th, 1945, tens of thousands of Jews managed to survive the murderous persecution by the Nazis and their local Hungarian henchmen.

A young Wallenberg, devoid of any tangible diplomatic experience, used his courage, persuasion skills and resourcefulness to orchestrate and carry-out one of the most spectacular rescue operations known to humankind.

Tragically, his own government and his own influential family, back in Sweden, literally left abandoned him, who saved so many, after being abducted by the Soviet forces in Hungary, together with his chauffer, Vilmos Langfelder. Both men eventually disappeared from the face of the earth and their fate remains a mystery even to this day.

Wallenberg could have expected a bright future, but instead, he most likely perished in the hands of his captors.

The actual reasons behind his arrest and death are still debatable, but it is quite clear that the Stalin regime was fully responsible for this arbitrary crime. Regrettably, almost 80 years later, Russia is unwilling to come clean and enable an unfettered access to the KGB archival materials, which might have crucial information on the subject.

For many years, as founder of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF) I have accompanied and supported Prof. Guy von Dardel (Raoul’s half-brother), who despite his hectic research work in Physics, he nonetheless devoted his time and energies to try and bring Raoul back home, or at least shed light into his fate.

Unfortunately, Prof. von Dardel, as well as his sister Nina Lagergren, passed away without being able to bring closure to this tragedy.

Prof. Guy von Dardel – Photo: Wikipedia


Their children, Marie Dupuy, Louise de Dardel and Bengt Lagergren are continuing this quest and we, at the IRWF are proud to stand by them.

We are living in turbulent times. Crises and conflicts are growing everywhere and oftentimes I feel that we are living in a topsy-turvy world, a phrase I heard from another giant rescuer, the late Sir Nicholas Winton. I related my encounter with this British hero on the Blog.

Nevertheless, I still believe that one day we shall be able to get clear answers regarding the fate of our beloved hero and hopefully, he will go back to Sweden, with all the honors he deserves, to rest in peace next to his parents and siblings.

Fredrik and Maj von-Dardel (1975)
Photo: Expressen
Fredrik was Raoul’s stepfather.
Both Maj and Fredrik took their own lives out of despair for not having been able to bring Raoul back home from the Soviet Gulag.

In the meantime, Raoul Wallenberg’s legacy lives on and together with my friend and chairman of the Board of the IRWF, Eduardo Eurnekian, we pledge to keep on working to instill his noble feats in the hearts and minds of the younger generations.

Eduardo Eurnekian and Baruch Tenembaum granting the Raoul Wallenberg Medal to Nina Lagergren at the US Congress, 9 July 2014. Photo: IRWF
About the Author
Baruch was born in 1933 in Las Palmeras, Argentina, a little hamlet which was part of Baron Hirsch's Jewish settlements. He graduated from a Yeshiva and spent his first adult years teaching Judaism. In the 1960's Baruch was Director of the Israeli Tourist Office in Argentina, creating a program for Catholic pilgrims. He has founded two NGO's, Casa Argentina in Israel - Terra Santa and the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation. He is married, has three children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.