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    Jul 30, 2012

Swedish Diplomat and Humanitarian Raoul Wallenberg Honored

Minn. Swedish-American and Jewish Communities Join Together Tuesday to Pay Tribute on 100th Anniversary of Hero’s Birth

The American Swedish Institute (ASI) and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) are honoring the memory of legendary Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, to recognize the 100th anniversary of his birth on Saturday, August 4, and to help tell Wallenberg’s story to new audiences not familiar with his role in saving tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II.

The American Swedish Institute (ASI) and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) have joined to collect the stories of two Twin Cities Holocaust survivors from Budapest, retired University of Minnesota professor of pediatrics and author Dr. Robert Fisch and  retired American Red Cross Field Service Manager Charles Fodor. The two men will share their stories and admiration for this man and how he touched their lives at the American Swedish Institute on Tues., July 31 at 10 a.m.

Governor Mark Dayton has issued a gubernatorial recognition of the heroism of Raoul Wallenberg on the centenary of Wallenberg’s birth. Special events in honor of Wallenberg will be held this fall at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., on October 26, and in the Twin Cities at the American Swedish Institute on October 28. Details will be released in August.

“The courageous actions of Raoul Wallenberg are celebrated by the Swedish community, and he is a hero to the Swedish people and all of humanity,” said Bruce Karstadt, ASI President and CEO. “We are proud to recognize how Wallenberg’s historic efforts have changed the lives of our neighbors here at home — and around the world.”

In 1944, Wallenberg was sent to the Swedish Embassy in Budapest and assigned the mission of protecting and providing relief for Budapest's Jews.  “Wallenberg performed his mission with great alacrity, enterprise, audacity and bravery.  He worked with other foreign diplomats to create safe houses for Jews, provided food and medicine, and leapt aboard trains bluffing German guards to save people facing deportation and certain death,” said Steve Hunegs, JCRC Executive Director. “Sadly, Wallenberg mysteriously disappeared in January 1945, and was reported to have died in prison in Moscow in July 1947. But by teaching new generations through celebrations like these, we can immortalize  his memory and selfless deeds.”

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Minnesota and the Dakotas is the public affairs voice of the Jewish community — fighting anti-Semitism and prejudice, promoting tolerance and social justice and representing Jews, individually and collectively, here and abroad. Visit minndakjcrc.org to learn more.

The American Swedish Institute (ASI) is a significant cultural center for the region — a gathering place to experience Nordic history, arts, music, cuisine, craft and culture. Founded in 1929 by Swedish immigrant newspaper publisher Swan J. Turnblad, the ASI is at 2600 Park Avenue, on the corner of 26th Street and Park Avenues.

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