I am pleased to welcome the exhibition ‘To Me There’s No Other Choice’ to the Canadian War Museum on the 100th anniversary of Raoul Wallenberg’s birth. Raoul Wallenberg was one of the greatest heroes of the twentieth century, a member of the Righteous among the Nations, personally saving 100,000 Jews from extermination by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
This exhibition will offer Canadians the opportunity to learn more about Mr. Wallenberg’s life, his extraordinary and courageous actions, and his legacy in combating hatred in its most evil form.
In 1944, Mr. Wallenberg – who was not Jewish – left the comforts of Sweden to serve as an envoy to Budapest, Hungary. Bearing witness to the Final Solution, Wallenberg stated: ‘I’d never be able to go back to Stockholm without knowing inside myself I’d done all a man could do to save as many Jews as possible.’ At great personal risk, and with remarkable ingenuity and courage, he successfully rescued over 100,000 Jewish men, women, and children who were set to perish at the hands of the murderous Nazi regime. On January 17, 1945, however, Soviet forces captured Raoul Wallenberg as the Soviet Union pushed the Nazis out of Hungary and – to this day – his fate remains unknown.
In 1985, in recognition of his heroic actions, Canada declared Raoul Wallenberg Canada’s first honourary citizen.
Just last month, I was honoured to meet members of Mr. Wallenberg’s family at the official naming of the ‘Raoul Wallenberg Room’ at Canada’s embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, and to pay tribute to him at official memorials in both Hungary and Sweden.
As Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I encourage Canadians to visit this important exhibition to learn more about Raoul Wallenberg’s selfless heroism and his important legacy.