ECI Holocaust Memorial appeals to Putin to open archives

Brussels, January28th, 2014 - In an Ecumenical Holocaust Memorial Service in Brussels on Monday ECI director Tomas Sandell appealed to Russian PresidentVladimir Putin to open the remaining archives in Russia to enable researchers to determine the fate of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews at the end of WW2. Wallenberg was later captured by the Soviet forces never to be seen again. However, nobody has been able to finally determine his fate.

This year will mark the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the Hungarian Jews and the Holocaust memorial was organized only one day prior to the arrival of President Putin in Brussels for bilateral meetings with the EU-leaders in Brussels today Tuesday.

- Whilst we remember the victims of the Holocaust we should also remember and honour those who laid down their lives to save Jews, such as Raoul Wallenberg, Sandell said at the event. But honouring someone does not give us the right to abandon them. As long as the fate of Raoul Wallenberg remains unsolved we have a moral duty to find the answers, he said.

Louise von Dardel, the niece of Raoul Wallenberg, was a guest of honour at the event. After the memorial Sandell, von Dardel and ECI UN director Gregory Lafitte met with a high ranking diplomatic advisor to the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy to ask the EU leader to bring up the issue of Raoul Wallenberg with the Russian leader in their talks on Tuesday. A request to meet directly with President Putin was finally turned down on Friday due to the rescheduling of the EU summit which was originally planned to last for two days but which, because of EU pressure, was squeezed in to a half-day meeting. On Monday Russian Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov indirectly accused blamed the EU-leaders for the difficulties to schedule a meeting. But in a parallel development in Moscow the Russian Ombudsman for Human Rights Vladimir Lukin said that "the remaining archives should be opened to ensure that nothing is hidden which could shed light on the fate of Raoul Wallenberg.”

The Ecumenical Holocaust Memorial under the patronage of the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Lászlo Surjan, was one of three Holocaust Remembrance Day events in Brussels on Monday.

In the official EU Holocaust Remembrance Day event in the European Parliament, where ECI was one of the co-organizers, EU-leaders, including EP President Martin Schulz and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras warned about the resurgence of anti-Semitism and racism in Europe.  They vowed to do everything in their power to combat these forces of hatred and were applauded by leaders of the Jewish Community, including the President of the World Jewish Congress, Ambassador Ronald Lauder and the President of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor

27th January is the official Holocaust Remembrance day. Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg who was honoured with an auditorium called named after him in the European Parliament.