A bust of diplomat Raoul Wallenberg was inaugurated this week in central Stockholm. The purpose, according to the donors, is to honor Wallenberg “as a hero” and to “remind and motivate in the endless fight for human rights and against racism and fascism in all its forms”.
Olle Wästberg, the former editor-in-chief of the left-wing populist Bonnier newspaper Expressen and a man named Abbas Asli jointly donated the bust, created by artist Ladislav Vina, to the city of Stockholm.
– In contrast to many other countries, there are hardly any statues of Raoul Wallenberg in Sweden. Therefore, it is very good that Abbas Asli has donated a bust of Raoul Wallenberg and that it is set up on Strandvägen near the house where Raoul Wallenberg was working when he was asked to go to Budapest and save Jews by declaring them as Swedes. “It is symbolic that Sweden does not give Raoul Wallenberg, who later died in Stalin’s Soviet Union, a more central role, says Wästberg.
Abbas Asli says that the purpose of the monument is partly to “honor Raoul Wallenberg as a hero” but also to “remind and motivate in the endless struggle for human rights and against racism and fascism in all its forms”.
– Raoul Wallenberg is Sweden’s strongest symbol worldwide in that fight, he argues.
In the Schibsted newspaper SvD, Wästberg, who himself has a Jewish background, elaborates on his reasoning, stating that “it is strange that he has not been shown more interest in Sweden”.
“His deeds should be taken up in schools and be part of the important task of promoting democracy and tolerance. He can serve as a role model for young people when it comes to showing civil courage and humanity”, he adds.
Facts: Raoul Wallenberg
Raoul Wallenberg is said to have rescued tens of thousands of Jews from German-occupied Hungary, including by distributing a large number of letters of protection or housing them in buildings designated as Swedish territory.
In January 1945, Wallenberg was arrested by the Soviet authorities on suspicion of espionage, after which he was never seen again. He was only declared dead in 2016, and exactly what happened to him has yet to be determined.
Over the years, there has also been speculation that Raoul Wallenberg had strong links to US intelligence – and that this could be the reason for his arrest and imprisonment.
- The Wallenberg family is undoubtedly Sweden's most powerful financial family, controlling about 40% of the Swedish stock exchange market, including scandal-ridden telecom giant LM Ericsson. They have been called the most powerful financial family in Europe. Their family motto Esse non videri means To act without being seen.
- Bonnier, based in Sweden, and Schibsted, headquartered in Norway, are the two dominant media companies in Scandinavia.