While millions of Jews were being murdered during the Holocaust, a small number of individuals stood out as “righteous among the nations” risking their own lives to save Jews. With Hitler’s invasion of Hungary in March 1944, deportations of the Jews began. Raoul Wallenberg, appointed to the Swedish legation in Budapest in July 1944, is credited with saving more than 100,000 Hungarian Jews. He used unconventional methods such as issuing protective passes, establishing “protective houses”, brow-beating and bribing authorities. Wallenberg disappeared on January 17, 1945.
Canada declared Raoul Wallenberg its first honorary citizen in 1985. In 2001, Canada proclaimed January 17th as Raoul Wallenberg Day – a way to honour the courage, character and humanity of an exceptional individual.
Wallenberg’s legacy – to respect human dignity across national, ethnic and religious differences and to act courageously to combat hate and prejudice – is taken up by those who work to protect and promote human rights in Canada and around the world.
On Raoul Wallenberg Day, the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg and Gray Academy organize a study day for the students of Gray Academy around an actual human rights problem. Various speakers introduce different aspects of the problem, and the students devise and implement an action plan.
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