NYC Council Members Propose Co-Naming 13th Avenue For Raoul Wallenberg


raoul-wallenbergBrooklyn – Councilman David G. Greenfield, Councilman Brad Lander, and Councilwoman Sara Gonz├ílez are announcing legislation today that would co-name the Boro Park portion of 13th Avenue after Raoul Wallenberg, who saved thousands of lives during the Holocaust.

“Raoul Wallenberg is one of the great heroes, humanitarians and righteous gentiles of World War II,” explained Councilman Greenfield. “Mr. Wallenberg gave his life to save tens of thousands of Jews. Thanks to Raoul, thousands of my constituents are here today. This is a well-deserved recognition from the next generation of those that Mr. Wallenberg saved.”

Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat, traveled to Hungary during the summer of 1944 with the intention of saving as many lives from Nazi destruction as possible. By that time, over 400,000 Jews had been deported to concentration camps. About 200,000 remained in the ghettos of Budapest, the city where Wallenberg set to work protecting as many Jewish residents as he could.

Wallenberg rented 32 buildings throughout the city, declaring them extraterritorial under Swedish diplomatic authority. Though the buildings were only suited for about 5,000 inhabitants, Wallenberg quickly issued Swedish passports to over 30,000 Hungarian Jews and moved them into the newly-established diplomatic posts. The passports identified the bearers as Swedish citizens, saving them from deportation to the concentration camps.

Wallenberg recruited over 300 people in Budapest to participate in his humanitarian efforts. While they were well-drilled in the diplomatic maneuvering at the center of Wallenberg’s operation, he would often spur them to more dramatic feats. Hearing one night that Jews were being bound, shot, and set afloat on the Danube, Wallenberg asked members of his staff whether they could swim and led a team into the icy cold water, where they saved over fifty people.

After the war, Wallenberg was detained by the Soviets and is presumed to have died in Soviet captivity. Thousands of the people he saved during the Holocaust immigrated to the United States after the war, and many of them settled in Boro Park. Among those saved are luminaries of the scientific and political community, including the late United States Congressman Tom Lantos.

“Raoul Wallenberg’s selfless actions during the Holocaust have had such an important impact on our lives,” said Councilmember Lander. “If it weren’t for him, many of our friends and neighbors in Boro Park might not be here today. It is therefore vital that we gather as a community and pay tribute to this legendary individual so our future generations will never forget him.”

“I am happy to join my colleagues in remembering a man who meant so much too many,” said Councilwoman Gonz├ílez. “Mr. Wallenberg’s actions saved thousands of lives and he deserves gratitude from the community and this great City.”

The co-naming will coincide with Wallenberg’s 100th birthday next year. The Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Celebration Commission, spearheaded by the Friedlander Group, will be organizing the effort to honor Wallenberg’s legacy culminating with an effort to secure the Congressional Gold Medal for Mr. Wallenberg. This street renaming will be one of many events during 2012 that will commemorate his achievements and heroism.

“As Jews, we have the most to be grateful for in regard to the heroism of Raoul Wallenberg and his life-saving actions,” said Ezra Friedlander, CEO of the Friedlander Group and spokesman for the Commission. “Indeed as 2012 approaches, we anticipate that it will be known as the ‘Year of Wallenberg’ and I commend leaders from both the city and federal level for taking this important issue to heart.”

{Noam Newscenter}


  1. It’s been 13th avenue for too long…as much as I think we owe it to Raoul Wallenberg….the name is too long to pronounce and I think most of us will still be calling it 13th Avenue. Why not come up with something that will really do justice to “his name”???

  2. My father has his Wallenberg papers hanging in his living room. I shutter to think what would have been had my grandparents not been saved by this rightgeous gentile. May we always remember him and the good he did for our people in Boro Park or wherever.

  3. I’m sure it will have a big effect, just like naming 48th street between 15th and 16th Avenues Bobov Promenade and putting up a sign at the SW corner of 16th Avenue and 53rd street dubbing it Zichron Kedoshim square. Do people use those names for those places? Not really.

    This Wallenberg thing costs little, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get politicians to go along with it, like other feel good measures pandering to various groups.