When sculptor Paul Lancz was hiding out in
Budapest in 1944 during the dark days of world War,
news that a Swedish diplomat was handing out safe
passage documents to imperiled Jews spread like
wildfire. Lancz, 76, avoided deportation to the Nazi
death camps at least in part because of diplomat
Raoul Wallenbergs courageous initiative. He and
thousands of other Hungarians survived and never
forgot Wallenbergs courage. His
"selflessness, courage, conviction and nobility
" in rescuing threatened people are reflected in
Lanczs bronze bust of Wallenberg unveiled
yesterday in the garden of Christ church Cathedral.
" In so doing, he managed to save the lives of
tens of thousands," Lancz said yesterday,
recalling how, through his own stealth and the "
Wallenberg Passport," he avoided deportation and
death." Everybody heard about it, every single
Jew in Budapest was trying to get those papers, a
certificate saying we were Swedish citizens, "
Lancz said in the basement of the Outremont house he
has lived in since arriving here in 1957. "
Wallenberg got 1,500 certificates signed by the King
of Sweden, but he used that to make more certificates
and - in many ways succeeded." :Lancz and his
three brothers, but not his sister, survived the war.
Seventy per cent of his extended family, like most
Jews in eastern and central Europe perished in nazi
concentration camps and crematoria. Lancz saw
Wallenberg only a few times, from a distance,but he
created the bust from the few photographs that
survive of the then 31-year-old Swedish first
secretary who was arrested by Soviet troops when they
liberated Budapest, possibly on suspicion of being an
American spy. " He has stayed in my mind and in
my heart for the rest of my life. Wallenberg was
imprisoned in several Soviet jails, where he was
reported by the Russians to have died in 1947. Many
doubts persisted, however, about the exact time and
circumstances of his death. There have been several
unconfirmed reports that he was still alive after
that time. Lancz, however is convinced that
Wallenberg did die, as the Russians said, in 1947 as
a result of heart problems. The memorial project was
initiated by the late Alan Rose, a former executive
vice-president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, and
supported by real-estate developer Eugene Riesman,
chairman of First Quebec Corp. It was financed by
other individuals and corporations.