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Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Celebration Act - Details

Wednesday, July 11, 2012
112th Congress Public Law 148 RAOUL WALLENBERG CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION ACT CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 158 (2012): Apr. 16, considered and passed House. July 11, considered and passed Senate.[11/2/2012 10:23:25 AM]

[112th Congress Public Law 148]

[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]

[[Page 1139]]


[[Page 126 STAT. 1140]]

Public Law 112-148

112th Congress

An Act

To award a Congressional Gold Medal to Raoul Wallenberg, in recognition

of his achievements and heroic actions during the

Holocaust. <>

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the

United States of America in Congress assembled, <

Centennial Celebration Act.>>


This Act may be cited as the ``Raoul Wallenberg Centennial

Celebration Act''.


The Congress finds as follows:

(1) Raoul Wallenberg was born in Europe on August 4, 1912,

to Swedish Christian parents.

(2) In 1935, he graduated from the University of Michigan in

Ann Arbor, completing a five-year program in three-and-a-half


(3) In a letter to his grandfather, Wallenberg wrote of his

time in America: ``I feel so at home in my little Ann Arbor that

I'm beginning to sink down roots here and have a hard time

imagining my leaving it. . . . Every now and then I feel strange

when I think about how tiny my own country is and how large and

wonderful America is.''.

(4) Raoul returned to Sweden, where he began a career as a

businessman, and afterwards, a Swedish diplomat.

(5) In 1936, Raoul's grandfather arranged a position for him

at the Holland Bank in Haifa, Palestine. There Raoul began to

meet young Jews who had already been forced to flee from Nazi

persecution in Germany. Their stories affected him deeply.

(6) He was greatly troubled by the fate of Jews in Europe,

confiding to actress Viveca Lindfors the horrific plight of Jews

under Nazi Europe.

(7) Under the direction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt,

the War Refugee Board was established in January 1944 to aid

civilians that fell victim to the Nazi and Axis powers in


(8) One of War Refugee Board's top priorities was protection

of the 750,000 Hungarian Jews still alive.

(9) It was decided that Raoul Wallenberg, aged 31 at the

time, would be most effective in protecting Jews and victims of

the Nazis in Hungary under the War Refugee Board. He was

recruited by Iver Olsen, an agent for the Office of Strategic

Services and sent to Budapest, Hungary, under his official

profession as a Swedish diplomat. He was instructed to use

[[Page 126 STAT. 1141]]

passports and other creative means to save as many lives as


(10) Wallenberg created a new Swedish passport, the

Schutzpass, which looked more imposing and official than the

actual Swedish passport. He reportedly put up huge place cards

of it throughout Budapest to make the Nazis familiar with it. He

unilaterally announced that it granted the holder immunity from

the death camps. The Schutzpasses alone are credited with saving

20,000 Jewish lives.

(11) In one example of his heroism, Wallenberg was told of a

Nazi plot to round up several thousand Jewish women and acted

swiftly to save them. Former Wallenberg staffer, Agnes Adachi,

recalls the time when she and other staff, spent the whole night[11/2/2012 10:23:25 AM]

making around 2,000 Schutzpasses before 6 a.m. They were all

completed and personally delivered to the women in time to save

their lives.

(12) Using the money the United States put into the War

Refugee Board, Wallenberg was able to purchase about thirty

buildings, which he used as hospitals, schools, soup kitchens,

and safe houses for over 8,000 children whose parents have

already been deported or killed.

(13) Tommy Lapid, a young boy who was staying with his

mother in a Swedish safe house (his father was already dead),

gave an eyewitness account of how his family was helped by

Wallenberg and the War Refugee Board: ``One morning, a group of

Hungarian Fascists came into the house and said that all the

able-bodied women must go with them. We knew what this meant. My

mother kissed me and I cried and she cried. We knew we were

parting forever and she left me there, an orphan to all intents

and purposes. Then two or three hours later, to my amazement, my

mother returned with the other women. It seemed like a mirage, a

miracle. My mother was there--she was alive and she was hugging

me and kissing me, and she said one word: Wallenberg.''.

(14) Even as the war was coming to a close, Wallenberg

remained vigilant and attentive to the people under his care.

Adolf Eichmann, the SS colonel charged with the extermination of

Jews in Eastern Europe, was determined to exterminate the 70,000

Jews kept as prisoners in a guarded ghetto in Budapest. As soon

as Wallenberg heard of the plot, he sent Pal Szalay, an Arrow-

Crossman senior official, who defected and turned to Wallenberg.

Szalay was sent to speak to General Schmidthuber, who was

ordered to spearhead the ghetto extermination in Budapest.

Szalay informed Schmidthuber that, seeing as the war was coming

to an end, if the planned massacre took place, Wallenberg would

see to it personally that Schmidthuber would be prosecuted as a

war criminal and hanged. The plans were ultimately abandoned and

considered Wallenberg's last big victory.

(15) Of the 120,000 Hungarian Jews that survived, Raoul

Wallenberg, acting under the War Refugee Board, is credited with

saving an estimated 100,000 of them in a six-month period.

(16) Raoul Wallenberg's fate remains a mystery. In January

13, 1945, he contacted the Russians in an effort to secure food

for the Jews under his protection--as he was still working hard

to protect them.

[[Page 126 STAT. 1142]]

(17) In 1981, President Ronald Reagan made Raoul Wallenberg

an honorary citizen of the United States, an honor only

previously extended to Winston Churchill.

(18) These findings show that Raoul Wallenberg showed

exceptional heroism and bravery with his actions during the

holocaust. Working with the War Refugee Board, a United State's

agency, he was able to save about 100,000 Hungarian Jews, many

of which were later able to immigrate to the United States.

(19) Indeed, hundreds of thousands of American Jews can

directly or indirectly attribute their own lives to Raoul

Wallenberg's actions during World War II. Many of the people

Wallenberg saved have been influential citizens contributing to

American institutions and culture, including Congressman Tom

Lantos (February 1, 1928-February 11, 2008), Annette Lantos, and

the Liska Rebbe, Rabbi Yoizef (Joseph) Friedlander, who carried

forth the Liska Hassidic dynasty from Hungary to the United

States after being saved by Raoul Wallenberg.

(20) His actions and character make him an excellent

contender for a Congressional Gold Medal in time for the

centennial of his birth, to celebrate his achievements and

humanitarian accomplishments.


(a) Presentation Authorized.--The Speaker of the House of

Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate shall make

appropriate arrangements for the presentation, on behalf of the

Congress, of a gold medal of appropriate design to the next of kin or

personal representative of Raoul Wallenberg, in recognition of his

achievements and heroic actions during the Holocaust.

(b) Design and Striking.--For the purpose of the presentation

referred to in subsection (a), the Secretary of the Treasury shall

strike a gold medal with suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions to

be determined by the Secretary.


Under such regulations as the Secretary of the Treasury may

prescribe, the Secretary may strike duplicate medals in bronze of the[11/2/2012 10:23:25 AM]

gold medal struck pursuant to section 3 and sell such duplicate medals

at a price sufficient to cover the costs of the duplicate medals

(including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, overhead expenses)

and the cost of the gold medal.


(a) National Medals.--The medals struck pursuant to this Act are

national medals for purposes of chapter 51 of title 31, United States


(b) Numismatic Items.--For purposes of section 5134 of title 31,

United States Code, all medals struck under this Act shall be considered

to be numismatic items.


(a) Authorization of Charges.--There is authorized to be charged

against the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund, such amounts as

may be necessary to pay for the costs of the medals struck pursuant to

this Act.

[[Page 126 STAT. 1143]]

(b) Proceeds of Sale.--Amounts received from the sale of duplicate

bronze medals under section 4 shall be deposited in the United States

Mint Public Enterprise Fund.

Approved July 26, 2012.




Apr. 16, considered and passed House.

July 11, considered and passed Senate.

2 articles found
Read More
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
House and Senate Sponsors & Cosponsors
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
The Commission works on a national campaign to highlight the incredible heroism exhibited by Raoul Wallenberg and to award him with a Congressional Gold Medal posthumously.
112th Congress Public Law 148 RAOUL WALLENBERG CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION ACT CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 158 (2012): Apr. 16, considered and passed House. July 11, considered and passed Senate.
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