A Congressional Gold Medal was posthumously awarded on July 9, 2014 to Swedish-born businessman and diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. The medal was given in recognition of Wallenberg’s achievements and heroic actions during the Holocaust.
Coinciding with the event, the United States Mint began selling 3-inch and 1.5-inch bronze replicas of the gold medal for $39.95 and $6.95.
Congress authorized the medal under the Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Celebration Act, which President Obama signed into law (Public Law 112-148) on July 26, 2012.
"In America’s history, only seven individuals have been made honorary citizens," said Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner (R-OH) at the award ceremony held in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. "The first was Churchill. The second was Wallenberg. To this honor, we add the Congressional Gold Medal, a tradition that began with George Washington himself."
Wallenberg was born in Europe on Aug. 4, 1912. He graduated from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1935 and returned to Europe to become a businessman and eventually a Swedish diplomat. As a diplomat, Wallenberg worked with the War Refugee Board.
In this position, he is credited with saving over 100,000 Hungarian Jews in less than a six month period, mainly with a special Swedish passport he created known as the Schutz-pass. Many of those saved would eventually immigrate to the United States.
United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart created the obverse for the medal which shows a portrait of Wallenberg along with the inscriptions of RAOUL WALLENBERG, ACT OF CONGRESS 2012, and HERO OF HEROES.
The reverse, designed by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill, shows Wallenberg’s view as he extends a Schutz-pass and a background view of those he could not reach being boarded on a train bound for a concentration camp. Inscriptions include HE LIVES ON FOREVER THROUGH THOSE HE SAVED and ONE PERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
Bronze replicas of the Raoul Wallenberg Congressional Gold Medal may be purchased directly from the United States Mint via its online catalog located here, or by calling 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468).
Coverage of the ceremony is available at:
Now and then a person rises to show what humanity is capable of doing. Such a one gives hope to the rest of us who are trying live in a very imperfect world.