Judith Weiszmann, who survived the Holocaust due to the extraordinary humanitarian efforts of Raoul Wallenberg, addressed students, October 4, at Merivale High School. More than 250 students heard her talk about her life in Hungary during the Second World War. Judith is living history.
She knew Wallenberg and witnessed his final departure from Budapest – her father being the last person to speak to the Swedish diplomat before he disappeared into the Soviet gulag.
Wallenberg is renowned for his successful efforts to rescue Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust by issuing them Swedish identity papers.
Weiszmann’s Schutz Pass was included in the design of both the Canadian and Swedish stamps issued to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Wallenberg’s birth – something she only discovered when presented with a booklet of the Canadian Wallenberg stamps by her daughter.
The school’s lecture theatre was decorated with enlarged copies of both stamps and a specially designed poster in her honour. After the formal presentation, the school’s proud contingent of Jewish students accompanied Weiszmann to Raoul Wallenberg Park for a photo opportunity she clearly enjoyed.
Weiszmann told students to speak up when faced with injustice, to always be tolerant, and to stand up to those bullying others.
She said she considers Wallenberg to be the greatest humanitarian of the 20th century and was emphatic in telling our young people that the actions of one person can make a difference. She pointed out that one man was able to save 100,000 people from the concentration camps and gas chambers of Nazi Germany by his courage and bravery and that she was living proof.
Irv Osterer is a teacher at Merivale High School.