Calls to Name Swedish Airport After Holocaust Hero

A group of politicians and intellectuals say Sweden's largest airport should be renamed after Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg.

Rina Tzvi ,

Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem
Israel news photo: Flah 90

A group of politicians and intellectuals said on Wednesday that Sweden's largest airport should be renamed after Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg, who saved the lives of tens of thousands of Jews.

A petition signed by 36 prominent Swedes, including two former prime ministers, called for Stockholm's Arlanda Airport to be named in Wallenberg’s honor, the AFP news agency reported.

"Raoul Wallenberg's name deserves to fly around the world as a reminder of what one single person can accomplish in the name of humanity," they wrote in daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

"Naming Sweden's largest airport after Raoul Wallenberg would also be an important signal against antisemitism and racism, in Sweden as well as abroad, in a time when xenophobia is once again gaining ground."

Wallenberg, a diplomat posted to Nazi-occupied Budapest in July 1944, is believed to have saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews in the final months of the Holocaust by providing them with protective passports.

He also acquired buildings to house as many Jews as possible and provide sanctuary.

However, mystery surrounds the fate of the Swedish diplomat, who was last seen alive on January 17, 1945 as Soviet forces entered Budapest.

He was subsequently arrested on a charge of spying and the official Soviet account states that he died in prison in Moscow in 1947. Wallenberg was thought to have been in his mid-30s.

It was only after the death of Soviet dictator Stalin in 1953 that Stockholm began to press the Soviets for more information about Wallenberg, who has been made an honorary citizen of the United States, Australia, Canada, Budapest and Israel.

The 36 petitioners include former prime ministers Goeran Persson and Thorbjoern Faelldin.

Other airports to have been named after major political figures include Paris' Charles de Gaulle, New York's John F. Kennedy and Berlin's Willy Brandt, they noted, according to AFP.