The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on Raoul Wallenberg Day:
“Today, we pay tribute to Raoul Wallenberg, a remarkable humanitarian who rescued thousands of Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust.
“Working as a Swedish diplomat in Nazi-occupied Hungary, Mr. Wallenberg issued thousands of ‘protective passports’ to Jews, providing them diplomatic immunity and saving them from persecution. Under dangerous circumstances, he established a network of hospitals, orphanages, soup kitchens, and safe houses. As a result, tens of thousands of Jews escaped certain death. And his dedication didn’t stop there: he helped diplomats from other neutral powers – such as Switzerland and the Vatican – to do the same, protecting even more lives. Over the course of six months, Mr. Wallenberg saved more Jews from the Holocaust than any other individual, group, or government.
“Toward the end of the Second World War, Mr. Wallenberg was arrested by the Soviet authorities. His fate remains unknown to this day, but he will forever be remembered for his bravery and selflessness. That is why, in 1985, the Government of Canada named Mr. Wallenberg its first honorary citizen, and in 2001, designated January 17 – the day of his arrest and disappearance – as Raoul Wallenberg Day.
“As one of the great humanitarians of the 20th century, Mr. Wallenberg’s story is a powerful reminder that we must stand up against antisemitism, hatred, and racism. In light of Hamas’ brutal attacks on October 7th and the appalling rise in antisemitic incidents in our communities, this reminder is more crucial than ever. The federal government will continue to combat antisemitism, as well as the denial and distortion of the Holocaust. Through the work of Canada’s new Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism, Deborah Lyons, we are helping to ensure the Holocaust and the memories of those who lived through it are never forgotten. Today, many Holocaust survivors call Canada home, and we remain committed to making our country a safer, more inclusive place for them and their descendants.
“Even in the darkest of times, the virtues of kindness, compassion, and selflessness can serve as beacons of hope. On Raoul Wallenberg Day, I invite all Canadians to learn more about Mr. Wallenberg’s heroic story and recommit to building a Canada, and a world, free of antisemitism, hate, and violence.”