January 27, 2012
AMBASSADOR'S REMARKS AT RAOUL WALLENBERG COMMEMORATION CEREMONY
(US Embassy, Stockholm) Mayor Lindquist,
Lidingö City Representatives, Wallenberg family Members,
Thank you for inviting me to join you here today on this
very special occasion, and to offer a few thoughts on the
significance of this event.
It is with a deep sense of honor and appreciation that
I stand here with you on the island of Lidingö where
Raoul Wallenberg was born. As we all know, Raoul Wallenberg
was a diplomat who chose not to be passive when faced with
great evil. Without concern for his own safety, he worked
tirelessly to save thousands of Hungarian Jews from certain
death at the hands of the Nazis by providing Wallenberg
passports so they could leave, and Swedish protected
buildings as places of safety and shelter in Budapest.
Raoul Wallenbergs mission was a shining example of
American-Swedish cooperation for the common good. His work
as a Swedish official in Budapest was in part financed by
the United States.
In 1981, to honor his self sacrifice, the United States
awarded Raoul Wallenberg honorary American citizenship,
a rare but fitting honor for a man who embodied the ideals
that both Sweden and the United States cherish.
Together, we have long cooperated to defend and promote
human rights at home and abroad. Perhaps the most important
part of Wallenbergs legacy lies in its lessons for
the generations to come. In that light, may I offer my warmest
congratulations to Class 5 at Lilla Högsätra Skola,
which received Lidingös Raoul Wallenberg award
this year for replicating Wallenbergs humanitarian
spirit, courage, and actions.
My heartfelt respect and admiration goes to the many groups
and individuals who have made this day possible. Each and
every one of us has a responsibility to speak up in the
face of suffering, intolerance, and violence. As Secretary
of State Clinton wrote recently in an editorial, quoting
Lutheran pastor and Nazi resister Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Silence
in the face of evil is itself evil. ... Not to act is to
Motivated by my commitment to remembrance, I intend to
plant a horse chestnut tree in front of the US Ambassadorial
residence in Nobel Park. I have been told that there was
just such a tree on the grounds of Raouls summer childhood
home here on Lidingö. The horse chestnut tree is also
called the Anne Frank tree, after the young Jewish girl
who was hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam. Through a window
in the attic, Anne could see the horse chestnut tree; she
wrote about how much it meant to her in her diary. The tree
we plant will be accompanied by a plaque honoring Raoul
Wallenbergs legacy, highlighting how a single individual
can make a difference - a huge difference and as
a call to action for all of us. We should do our best to
honor the memory of Raoul Wallenberg by speaking out and
acting against the forces of hatred and evil today.
In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and
nothing less, than vigilance, vigilance for the act of indifference.
The importance of not being indifferent is a basic value.
Raoul Wallenberg gave his life for his commitment to that
basic value. Thank you very much.