Today we remember the courageous actions of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jewish people’s lives during the Second World War.
Wallenberg established a Swedish embassy in Budapest in 1944, at a time when 400,000 Jewish men, women and children had already been deported by the Nazis. It was under the safeguard of the embassy that he provided special protective certificates called Schutz-Passes for 4,000 Jewish people, which granted them immunity from deportation.
In six months, he helped save more than 100,000 Hungarian Jews from persecution, more than any individual, organization or government. When they were forced to take part in death marches in the fall of 1944, Wallenberg personally intervened on multiple occasions to rescue as many Jewish people as he could.
During this time, Raoul Wallenberg also helped establish hospitals, nurseries, a soup kitchen and more than 30 safe houses to conceal and protect Jewish people.
On January 17, 1945, Wallenberg was arrested by Soviet forces as they drove the Nazis out of Hungary. Although the circumstances and timing of his death are unknown, his mark on the world remains. For his courageous acts, Raoul Wallenberg was named Canada’s first-ever honorary citizen in 1985.
Today serves as a reminder for Canadians to remember Raoul Wallenberg as well as the millions of victims, survivors and families who suffered because of the Holocaust. Ahead of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, I urge Canadians to educate themselves on this dark chapter of history and to work toward never letting it happen again.
The Government of Canada will always stand with Jewish communities at home and abroad, while also continuing the fight against antisemitism and hate.
As Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, I encourage all Canadians to reflect on the actions of Raoul Wallenberg, who showed compassion, kindness and bravery during one of the world’s darkest moments.