The Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Lecture

Peace Studies

Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Lecture

In 1982, Gustavus Adolphus College awarded Raoul Wallenberg an honorary degree in absentia which was accepted on his behalf by his sister Nina. In 1983, Gustavus established an annual lecture to commemorate the heroic service of Raoul Wallenberg in his fearless support of persecuted Jews during the Second World War. 

Year Speaker Affiliation/Notes
2017 Dr. Marica Cristina Garcia "Climate Refugees: An Unrecognized Challenge at Home and Abroad"
2014 Dr. Stephen Zune "The United States and the Middle East: Intervention, Reaction, and Hope for Change"
2012 Ingemar Eliasson “Wallenberg” - Eliasson is a former Swedish politician, economist, and governor 
2011 Dr. Jennifer McBride “Bonhoeffer and Repentance: A Constructive Proposal for Christian Public Witness” - McBride is a professor of religion at  Wartburg College
2010 Dr. Jo Ellen Fair Not a Simple Story: Mass Media and Mass Violence, The African Case” - Fair is a professor of journalism at the University of Wisconsin, Madison
2009 Dr. Steven Miles Oath Betrayed: America’s Torture Doctors” - Miles is a professor at University of Minnesota Medical School
2008 Mark Hanis "Never Again is Again in Darfur: Taking a Stand Against Genocide” - Hanis is founder of the Genocide Intervention Network
2007 Ben Olander Swedish Folksinger performing songs inspired by Raoul Wallenberg
2006 Dr. Hugh Parmer Humanitarian Crisis in Darfur: Perspectives from the Field” - Parmer is president of the American Refugee Committee
2005 Dr. Peter Wallensteen Dag Hammarskjöld: Diplomat, Peacemaker, and International Civil Servant” - Wallensteen is a Swedish peace researcher
2004 Diane Orentlicher “Saddam on Trial” - Orentlicher is a professor law at American University
2003 Douglas Johnson “Human Rights Denied: Human Dignity Ignored” - Johnson is director of the Center for Victims of Torture
2002 Lucille Eichengreen Holocaust survivor
2001 Dr. Robert Jan Van Pelt "The Holocaust on Trial?: An Analysis of the Irving-Lipstadt Trial in London" - VanPelt is a professor of architecture at University of Waterloo
2000 Dr. Paul Levine Wallenberg biographer from the Uppsala Program for Holocaust Studies
1999 Dr. Harvey Rosenfeld Wallenberg biographer and professor of history at Pace University
1998 Fred Baron Holocaust survivor of Bergen-Belsen Camp
1997 Ninotchka Rosca Novelist and human rights activist from the Philippines
1996 Dr. Robert Fisch Hungarian concentration camp survivor
1995 Harold Stassen Former Governor of Minnesota
1994 Marjorie Agosin Chilean poet and human rights activist
1993 Dr. Steven Koblik President of Reed College and Scandinavia historian 
1992 Sir Brian Urquhart Former Undersecretary at the United Nations
1991 Gen. Indar Rikhye Former Head of Peacekeeping at the United Nations
1990 Herb Frey Minister at Alliance of the Streets
1989 Fr. Medardo Gomez Lutheran Bishop of San Salvador
1988 Agnes Adachi Volunteer associate of Raoul Wallenberg
1987 Per Anger Swedish Diplomat and Raoul Wallenberg’s supervisor in Budapest
1986 Dennis Brutus South African poet
1985 Jeri Laber Executive director of the United States Helsinki Watch
1984 Theo Kotze South African church leader and critic of Apartheid
1983 Mulford Q. Sibley Professor of Political Science at University of Minnesota
1982 Stephen Spender Essayist and poet

Background on Raoul Wallenberg

Raoul Wallenberg is one of the least known and the greatest of heroes of our century. In the dark days of World War II, when so many people worldwide were silent, willfully opaque or simply afraid to act, Wallenberg energetically took up the cause of thousands of Hungarian Jews in imminent danger of mass extermination. He used a combination of moral outrage, bribery, and bluff to stand down Adolf Eichmann and his underling Nazi murderers. Their goal was the systematic extermination of Hungary’s Jews as part of the larger Nazi “final solution” of the so-called “Jewish Problem.”

Raoul Wallenberg saved thousands of Jewish lives by issuing hastily prepared “protecting passports,” which instantly made the bearers Swedish citizens. He provided them accommodation, board, and medical care in houses the Swedish Embassy bought up as safe houses. On the ensuing death marches, which he had fought fiercely to prevent, he dispensed food and blankets wherever he could and shamed the guards into more humane behavior. His most dramatic intervention came at the point when plans were imminent to exterminate the entire remaining Jewish population of Hungary in the Budapest ghetto. Acting only on his own moral authority, Wallenberg sent a note to the German commander, promising to make sure he would be hanged as a war criminal if he went ahead with the destruction of the ghetto. The commander blinked and the lives of around 70,000 Jews were saved right there, since they were soon thereafter liberated by the advancing allied forces.

Without Raoul Wallenberg’s conspicuous heroism, his civil courage in speaking out and acting on his convictions, it is certain that a great many lives would have been lost. In January 1945, Wallenberg was arrested by the Soviet authorities and vanished in the Gulag. He is now presumed dead.

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