Remembering Raoul WallenbergIRWIN COTLER
Today marks the 62nd anniversary of the 1945 disappearance of Raoul Wallenberg, the Second World War-era Swedish diplomat whom the United Nations has called "The greatest humanitarian of the 20th century."
Indeed, this Swedish non-Jew, this Saint Just of the nations, this first of our honorary citizens, is the embodiment of the Talmudic and Islamic adage that whoever saves a single life, it is as if they have saved an entire universe. This lost hero of the Holocaust confronted the Nazi killing machine in Hungary and showed that one person can make a difference; that one person can resist; that one person can prevail over radical evil. Wallenberg's incredible heroism included:
To the Jews, Wallenberg was always a guardian angel. To Adolph Eichmann, the bureaucratic desk murderer responsible for the Final Solution for Jews in Hungary and elsewhere, Wallenberg was the Judenhund Wallenberg, the "Jewish dog."
All of us should take this opportunity to learn about, reflect upon, and be inspired by the unparalleled heroism of this great humanitarian. In his protection of civilians during armed conflict, he symbolized the best of the human spirit. In his warnings to the Nazis, which foreshadowed the Nuremberg principles that would emerge following the war, he epitomized something else, too: the mechanisms of humanitarian law. Raoul Wallenberg was not only a great humanitarian. He also taught us that we each have an indispensable role to play in the struggle for human rights and dignity.
We must remember always that human rights begin with each of us — in our homes, in our workplace, in our human relations, in our daily capacity for acts of care and compassion, in our daily capacity to make life better for some victim of discrimination or disadvantage.
This then must be our task: to speak on behalf of those who cannot be heard; to bear witness on behalf of those who cannot testify. We need to live human rights — to become the implementers of international human rights law. That is what the protection ofhuman security is all about.
Irwin Cotler, "Remembering Raoul Wallenberg." National Post, (Canada) January 17, 2007.
Reprinted with permission of the National Post.
Irwin Cotler is the Member of Parliament for Mount Royal and the former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada. He is a professor of law (on leave) from McGill University and served as chairman of the International Commission on the Fate and Whereabouts of Raoul Wallenberg. Conferences dedicated to Raoul Wallenberg are being held today at McGill University in Montreal and later this week at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto.
© 2007 National Post
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