Obama pays tribute to Swedish diplomat who saved thousands during Holocaust
Wednesday, September 04, 2013 - 00:55
Sept. 4 - During Swedish visit Obama honors man credited with saving thousands of Jewish lives during Holocaust. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)
STORY: U.S. President Barack Obama paid tribute on Wednesday to a Swedish diplomat who risked his own life to save thousands of Jews during the Holocaust.
Raoul Wallenberg, born in Sweden in 1912, graduated from the University of Michigan in the United States and went on to become a diplomat upon his return to Sweden. There, he came across many Jews who had been forced to flee persecution in Germany under Nazi rule and later saved the lives of at least 100,000 Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust.
He is seen as a hero in Sweden and many American-Jews can attribute their own survival to Wallenberg's actions.
"I'm here today because as Americans we cherish our ties to Wallenberg as well. He was a son of Sweden, but he also studied in America," Obama told a gathering including some of Raoul's remaining family and friends at the Great Synagogue of Stockholm, where he paid tribute to the many who were killed during the Holocaust along with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.
"I know he spent most of his time in Ann Arbor, but my understanding is he spent some time in my home town of Chicago as well. He could have remained in the comfort of Stockholm, but he went to Nazi occupied Hungary in partnership with the U.S. War Refugee Board. To this day, schools and streets in America bear his name and he's one of only a few individuals ever granted honorary U.S. citizenship. So he's beloved in both our countries - he's one of the links that bind us together," Obama added.
Wallenberg's family was expected to seek Obama's help in finding out his fate. He is said to have died in 1947 while in prison in the former Soviet Union.
The U.S. President, who arrived in the Swedish capital earlier on Wednesday, is on a 24-hour state visit ahead of going to St. Petersburg, Russia to attend the G20 summit.
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