BY JON CRONIN
Raoul Wallenberg’s legacy was celebrated on April 23 in Kew Gardens with the rededication of a square named in honor of the Swedish diplomat, who is credited with saving tens of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust, at the corner of Metropolitan Avenue and Park Lane South.
Elected officials representing Queens, foreign dignitaries and community leaders were present for the rededication.
“This was a chance to reconfirm Raoul Wallenberg’s courage and dedication to justice and also a chance to honor those he helped along the way,” Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) said. “I was proud to present Greta Elbogen with a City Council Proclamation. [Her] mother and sister survived the Holocaust because of Raoul’s efforts. We must come together always to denounce hate.”
Wallenberg was born on Aug. 4, 1912, in Sweden. He studied architecture at Michigan University in the early 1930s and moved back to Sweden after graduation, worked as an architect and then launched his own import-export business.
Jeff Gottlieb, a member of the Queens Raoul Wallenberg Committee, said that there were many Christians who aided Jews in Europe during the Nazis’ reign and Wallenberg was just one of them. He noted that in the years since the original dedication of the square, many others have been celebrated. However, he felt that it was time to rededicate the Kew Gardens square to Wallenberg.
Gottlieb said that Wallenberg traveled often and became knowledgeable about the Jewish plight in Palestine.
Wallenberg saved tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary by using his position as Sweden’s special envoy in Budapest to grant protective passports and hide Jews in buildings designated as Swedish territory.
In 1945, the Russian army invaded Budapest and Wallenberg was captured and imprisoned by the KGB secret police. The motives for his arrest and date of his death are unknown, but it is believed that he died sometime in 1947. Gottlieb noted that Wallenberg was granted U.S. citizenship posthumously in 1981.
Reach Reporter Jon Cronin at (718) 357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin