City dedicates 13th Avenue in memory of Holocaust hero

December 11, 2012 Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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A Swedish diplomat who braved the wrath of the Nazis and saved the lives of thousands of Jews during the dark days of the Holocaust will be remembered forever in Borough Park now that New York City has renamed a 24-block stretch of 13th Avenue in his honor.

Borough Park residents, elected officials, and diplomats from Sweden and Hungary withstood the rain on Dec. 9, the first day of Chanukah, to honor the legacy of the late Raoul Wallenberg.

In a ceremony hosted by Councilman David Greenfield (D-Borough Park-Bensonhurst) at the corner of 13th Avenue and 50th Street, the city officially dedicated the stretch of 13th Avenue from 36th Street to 60th Street in Wallenberg’s memory. An honorary street sign marking “Raoul Wallenberg Way,” was unveiled in tribute to the World War II hero who helped save as many as 100,000 Hungarian Jews from Nazi concentration camps.

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Wallenberg’s would have turned 100 this year.

Borough Park is a fitting place for a tribute to Wallenberg, according to Greenfield, who noted that the neighborhood is home to the largest population of Holocaust survivors in the United States. Many local families are descendants of individuals saved by Wallenberg, Greenfield said.

Among the officials who attended the ceremony were: Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, former city comptroller Bill Thompson, state senator-elect Simcha Felder, Assemblyman Bill Colton and Assemblyman David Weprin, along with members of the Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Celebration Commission, Consul General of Hungary Karoly Dan and Honorary Consul General of Sweden David E.R. Dangoor.

Greenfield led the formal unveiling of a new street sign. 

“The Talmud tells us that one who saves a life saves the world. In essence, that is what Chanukah is all about, a handful of people refusing to stand by and instead standing up to end the religious persecution nearly 2,200 years ago. But only 68 years ago Raoul Wallenberg made the ultimate sacrifice for doing the right thing. There are literally thousands in Borough Park who trace their lineage to someone saved by Raoul Wallenberg, and many of us would not be here today without Raoul Wallenberg. That is why we are here along the most important commercial strip in Borough Park recognizing Raoul Wallenberg,” Greenfield said.

“He chose to do the right thing, which is why he is a genuine hero. It is that lesson that we celebrate with this street naming in honor of a person who stood up and made a difference,” Greenfield said. 

“Sweden is very fortunate to participate in this event to honor Raoul Wallenberg and we are very proud as a country to have him as part of our legacy,” Dangoor said. 

Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who put his life on hold in the summer of 1944 and embarked on a mission that led to the saving of as many as 100,000 Hungarian Jews who were otherwise bound for Nazi concentration camps. Serving as first secretary at the Swedish Legation in Budapest, Wallenberg devised a plan to issue Swedish “protective passports” and establish safe houses in buildings throughout Budapest.


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