New York - This week the world is marking the 99th birthday of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat whose heroism saved the remnants of Hungarian Jews during waning days of the Holocaust.  Wallenberg produced protective passports and provided shelter to Jews that remained in Budapest   He is credited with saving an estimated 100,000 lives in a six month period. As the world gears up for the centennial of Wallenberg’s birth next year, the Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Celebration Commission (RWCCC) was established and has announced today efforts to honor Mr. Wallenberg with a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor the U.S. Congress can bestow.

Wallenberg’s actions and heroism are directly attributable to the War Refugee Board established by the United States in 1944, by President Roosevelt, to save what was left of European Jewry. Indeed, today hundreds of thousands of American Jews are alive because of Raoul Wallenberg’s heroic actions.

Throughout the next year, the RWCCC will work on a national campaign to highlight the incredible heroism exhibited by Wallenberg.  The movement will also include the ceremonial naming of public streets in major U.S. municipalities as well as an educational component.
The Gold Medal effort will be introduced by Senior House and Senate leadership in a bipartisan fashion.  “We aim to have both Senate and House bills introduced by September 21st in a press conference and Congressional Luncheon on Capitol Hill that will be attended by a powerful array of Congressional Leaders” said Spokesperson for the Commission and CEO of The Friedlander Group, Ezra Friedlander. “In a world were government is highly polarized, it is an encouraging sign to see Members of both parities gather behind the inspiring message of Mr. Wallenberg.  We envision that 2012 will be summarized as the ‘The Year of Wallenberg’, in recognition of what one individual can achieve and indeed alter the fate of history for mankind and for generations to come. Today, on August 4th we pause and internalize what Raoul Wallenberg means for our community and the world at large” concluded Mr. Friedlander.