Letter sent to The Guardian by Mr. Eduardo Eurnekian and Mr. Baruch Tenembaum, Chairman and Founder of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.
Ref.: "Daughter of US Congressman among those returning Hungarian award" - The Guardian - Sept., 4, 2016
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation strongly repudiates the decision to award the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit to Mr. Zsolt Bayer, a so-called journalist and author who advanced heinous racist remarks against Roma, Jewish and Muslims.
One of the co-founders of our NGO was the late US Congressman and Holocaust survivor, Mr. Tom Lantos. We were not surprised by his daughter's decision to return the aforementioned Hungary award following the ill-judged decision to offer the same distinction to a racist. We applaud her and all the other laureates who decided to take the same step in protest.
We call upon President Janos Ader and Prime Minister Viktor Orban to recall the award to Mr. Bayer.
Hungary was a country plagued with antisemitism during WWII. The infamous Arrow Cross Militia were Hitler's henchmen and oftentimes, they were more vicious than the Nazis themselves.
It was precisely in Hungary, where Raoul Wallenberg, the young Swede, embarked in an unprecedented life-saving operation which actually spared the lives of scores of Jews and other innocent victims of the Nazis and their Hungarian partners.
Any form of racism and discrimination should not be rewarded but strongly condemned. Instead, it seems that seven decades later, the present Hungarian government has learned very little from Raoul Wallenberg's legacy. This should be immediately rectified and addressed.
Our current flagship programme, named "Houses of Life", identifies and marks physical sites in Europe that served as shelters during the Holocaust for the benefit of the victims of the Nazi persecution. Hundreds of Houses of Life have been located across Europe, including in Hungary. The underlying idea is to spread around the brave exploits of the rescuers, instilling their values of solidarity in the hearts and minds of the young generations.
This could serve as an example for the Hungarian government to stress the legacy of the Hungarian rescuers rather than granting awards to those who propagate hatred and divide.
Eduardo Eurnekian – Chairman
Baruch Tenembaum – Founder
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation
34 East 67th Street
New York, NY 10065