Holocaust Hero Honored on Postage Stamp
United States Postal Service: Postal News
Washington -- Raoul Wallenberg, credited with saving as many as 100,000 Hungarian Jews during World War II, will be honored on a postage stamp in 1997. Representative Tom Lantos (D-CA), Postmaster General Marvin Runyon, and Postal Service Governor S. David Fineman unveiled the stamp design today in a ceremony held at Wallenberg's bust in the capitol.
Representative Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to Congress said, "It is most appropriate that we honor Raoul Wallenberg with a U.S. stamp. In this age devoid of heroes, Wallenberg is the archetype of a hero -- one who risked his life day in and day out, to save the lives of tens of thousands of people he did not know whose religion he did not share."
Lantos was born in Budapest, Hungary and was sixteen when Nazi Germany occupied his native country. He and his wife Annette were saved by Wallenberg. "I am very proud that my country is honoring Raoul Wallenberg with such a lasting memorial," said Fineman. "The commemorative stamp we unveil today will ensure that his story is told anew to generations and generations of Americans."
[Marvin] Runyon said, "Raoul Wallenberg epitomizes human morality, the good that we all aspire to in life. His heroism and compassion should never be forgotten. A United States postage stamp will be a fitting tribute to this man of great honor, a man who showed us all that one person can make a difference."
Born August 4, 1912, an heir of a prominent Swedish banking family, Wallenberg studied architecture at the University of Michigan in the 1930s. In 1944, he was appointed a Swedish special diplomatic envoy to Hungary. With disregard to his safety, Wallenberg went to Hungary and proceeded to save tens of thousands of Jews from Nazi death camps, primarily by issuing them falsified Swedish passports. Wallenberg is credited with saving 70,000 lives when, by boldly threatening a Nazi general, he prevented the bombing of a Jewish ghetto. Wallenberg disappeared while on a trip to the Soviet zone and was rumored to have been arrested there. According to documents released in 1991, he died in a Soviet prison on July 17, 1947.
In 1981, acting on legislation initiated by Representative Lantos, President Ronald Reagan approved a special Act of Congress, making Wallenberg an honorary American citizen, a distinction awarded to only one other person -- Sir Winston Churchill. The Postal Service issued a stamp honoring Churchill in 1965. A montage, the stamp features a profile portrait of Wallenberg on the telephone. In the background, a group of Holocaust survivors looks over his shoulder. A Schutzpaß, the false passport he often issued, is included in the upper left corner. Burt Silverman, the designer of the stamp, is an established artist whose work has appeared on the cover of The New Yorker magazine.
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