July 12, 2012

Gillibrand Announces Congressional Passage of Bill to Confer a Congressional Gold Medal Upon Raoul Wallenberg

Senator Pushed for Highest Civilian Award Honoring Wallenberg’s Heroic Rescue of Hungarian Jews During WWII

Washington, DC– Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced that Congress passed a bill to bestow the Congressional Gold Medal on Raoul Wallenberg, a hero who saved thousands of lives during the Nazi occupation of Hungary during World War II. The bill, which the Senate passed last night and mirrors Senate legislation introduced by Senator Gillibrand in April, now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature. The House unanimously passed similar legislation in April. 

“Raoul Wallenberg’s heroic rescue of Hungarian Jews during one of the darkest hours of human history exemplifies his outstanding spirit, his dedication to humanity, and the responsibility for us all to speak out against atrocities,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am proud that Congress has recognized Raoul Wallenberg's extraordinary and enduring courage by passing my bi-partisan bill bestowing him with the Congressional Gold Medal.”

Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat posted to Hungary during the Second World War, is credited with saving the lives of tens of thousands of Jews and other innocent people from the Nazis.  After Wallenberg was detained and imprisoned by the Soviet Union, he disappeared and his precise fate remains unknown.  For his extraordinary actions, Wallenberg was made an honorary citizen of the United States in 1981. 

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award Congress can confer upon an individual.