New York, NY (PRWEB) March 15, 2007
His Majesty, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, appointed Rachel Oestreicher Bernheim, Chairman of the Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States, with the insignia of Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Start, a Swedish Royal order of Chivalry created by King Frederick I of Sweden in 1748. Bernheim received the appointment at a private ceremony hosted by Ambassador Ulf Hjertonsson, Consul General of Sweden in New York, at the Consular Residence on March 13, 2007.
Citing her "years of devotion to education and mutual understanding," Ambassador Hjertonsson noted Bernheim's accomplishments in a number of areas related to contemporary world history and education. He cited her work in the search for the truth about the fate of Raoul Wallenberg and her conceptualization and co-development of the program A STUDY OF HEROES - a living monument that honors Wallenberg and passes forward to future generations his value of non-violent heroism, respect for diversity compassion and courage.
A STUDY OF HEROES is an award-winning interdisciplinary academic program that has already reached more than 1,000,000 American students in public, private, and parochial schools, and in adult prison classrooms. HEROES is used across America, and in schools in other countries. It pays tribute to Raoul Wallenberg, a 31-year old Swedish Christian who near the end of World War II, volunteered to leave the safety of his peaceful homeland and travel to war-torn Budapest. His mission was to save the lives of Jews threatened by the Nazis. Through the use of protective passports of his own design, Swedish safe houses, and his influence on political authorities in many spheres, he was able to save the lives of more than 100,000 Jews in only six months.
Bernheim said, "I am thrilled and honored to be the recipient of this award." She concluded, "I accept the award with humility and gratitude, but more importantly I accept it on behalf of the many people who have contributed to the unceasing efforts to continue the search for the truth about Wallenberg, and to perpetuate his living legacy through the HEROES program."
Bernheim has been part of the Committee since its founding in 1981.
About The Raoul Wallenberg Committee of The United States and HEROES
The Raoul Wallenberg Committee of The United States is a non-profit organization, whose mission is "to perpetuate the humanitarian ideals and the nonviolent courage of Raoul Wallenberg through the national distribution of A STUDY OF HEROES, an interdisciplinary academic resource for use in grades K-12+."
The program is in use in 48 states and three foreign countries. To date it has reached over 1,000,000 American students in public, private, and parochial schools, as well as in adult prison classrooms.
Near the end of World War II, at the request of the United States government, a 31-year old Swedish businessman, Raoul Wallenberg, volunteered to leave the safety of his peaceful homeland and travel to war-torn Budapest. His mission was to save the lives of Jews threatened by the Nazis. Through the use of protective passports of his own design, Swedish safe houses, and his influence on political authorities in many spheres, he was able to save the lives of more than 100,000 Jews in only six months. On January 17, 1945, Raoul Wallenberg was arrested by Soviet troops on unknown charges, and tragically disappeared into the Soviet gulag. His ultimate fate remains a mystery to this day.
For his heroic actions, the United States named Raoul Wallenberg an Honorary Citizen of the United States on October 5, 1981. He stands alongside the Marquis de Lafayette, Sir Winston Churchill and Mother Teresa as one of only four people to receive this great honor. A STUDY OF HEROES was developed as a living monument to honor Raoul Wallenberg because of his heroic and humanitarian actions. By sharing heroes' stories with students, and exploring the issues surrounding each student's personal responsibility, generations to come will understand and perpetuate the principles of nonviolent heroism.
About Rachel Oestreicher Bernheim
Rachel Oestreicher Bernheim is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States. She has worked in close cooperation with the United States and Swedish governments; is an active member of the Swedish community in New York; and spearheaded the awarding of the Committee's most distinguished honor, The Raoul Wallenberg Hero for Our Time Award, to the Swedish Prime Minister, Mr. Goran Persson, in December 2001.
During the 1980s, Mrs. Bernheim and The Raoul Wallenberg Committee worked almost exclusively to determine the truth about Wallenberg's fate. Mrs. Bernheim continues to be the organization's spokesperson throughout the world. She has been invited to Stockholm by the Swedish Wallenberg Committee and the Swedish Government. In 1988, she was in Stockholm for a series of senior level Government meetings and met with Members of the Swedish Parliament and members of the Wallenberg family to discuss his case.
From 1988-1992, in cooperation with the Institute of International Education, Mrs. Bernheim helped establish The Raoul Wallenberg International Human Rights Fellowship. This unique program, open to graduate students and young professionals around the world, was dedicated to alleviating suffering due to war or political upheaval. The one-year internships with international human rights organizations funded the work of the interns and helped defray expenses of the appointed organization. Interns worked in refugee camps on the border of Afghanistan; in Thailand's Cambodian refugee camps; for Asia Hotline in South Korea and Hong Kong, and for Helsinki Watch.
In January 1988, at the suggestion of the United States Department of State, Mrs. Bernheim traveled to Vienna to meet with delegates to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). Working with then United States Ambassador Warren Zimmerman and his staff, she met with
numerous delegates to the conference to discuss: the Wallenberg Case; the issue of Diplomatic Immunity and its infringement by the Soviet Union in the case of Raoul Wallenberg, and how that could set an arbitrary precedent in other cases.
In the years 1990 until 2000, The Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States contributed significantly to assist The Swedish Russian Commission to Determine the Fate of Raoul Wallenberg. In addition this Committee also supplied 300 rolls of special film for the Commission's investigators' use, particularly at Vladimir Prison, to help facilitate their research in the prison's archives.
In the early 1990s, the mission of The Raoul Wallenberg Committee began to broaden. A STUDY OF HEROES was conceptualized by Mrs. Bernheim as a living monument to Raoul Wallenberg. It is an important way to pass Wallenberg's values of nonviolent humanitarianism, compassion, and courage to future generations. Bernheim came to realize that children need true heroes like Wallenberg, Dr. King, and Mother Teresa. The HEROES Program has reached over a million American students and is currently a part of the curricula in a number of international schools.
Mrs. Bernheim authored the monograph, "Raoul Wallenberg: A Hero For Our Time;" wrote the Afterwards for the book, Letters and Dispatches, based on Wallenberg's correspondence with his grandfather and the dispatches that he sent to Stockholm from Budapest; in the Winter 1989 Edition of Scandinavian Review published by the American Scandinavian Foundation, she authored an article also entitled "Raoul Wallenberg: A Hero for Our Time," that dealt with the international political implications of the Wallenberg case; as well as a number of short articles and letters in the name of The Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States.
She is a member of the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce; the American Scandinavian Foundation; the American Scandinavian Society; and is celebrating both the 25th Anniversary of The Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States and her own 25 years of work with the Committee...which she finds quite impossible to believe!
For more information, please go to: http://www.raoulwallenberg.org.
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