Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew today unveiled the designs of the Raoul
Wallenberg Congressional Gold Medal during a ceremony held in the Treasury’s
historic Cash Room. Their Majesties King
Carl XVI Gustaf (pictured above) and Queen Silvia of Sweden were present for the event, along
with Congressman Gregory Meeks. The
final medal, which was authorized by Public Law 112-148, will be presented in a
future ceremony on Capitol Hill in recognition of Wallenberg’s achievements and
heroic actions during the Holocaust.
In his remarks, Secretary Lew said, “As many of
you know, the Congressional Gold Medal is one of this nation’s highest civilian
awards, bestowed on individuals who have made a lasting impact on American
history and culture. Only 31 foreign
citizens have been recognized in this way.
Of course, we all know the unique story of Raoul Wallenberg. His remarkable heroism, in risking his own
life to rescue thousands of Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust, is the reason
that we are here to celebrate his legacy and unveil the medal’s design.”
Raoul Wallenberg was born on August
4, 1912, in Sweden. After graduation
from the University of Michigan, he returned to Sweden where he began a career
as a businessman and later as a Swedish diplomat. While working at the Holland Bank, Wallenberg
began to meet young Jews who had been forced to flee from Nazi persecution in
Germany. Working with the War Refugee
Board, Wallenberg helped save more than 100,000 Hungarian Jews during the
Holocaust, many of whom later immigrated to the United States. Today, hundreds of thousands of American Jews
can directly or indirectly attribute their own lives to Wallenberg’s heroic
actions. Indeed, many of the people Wallenberg saved have been
influential citizens contributing to American institutions and culture. Wallenberg’s ultimate fate remains a
mystery. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan
made him an honorary U.S. citizen, an honor that had only previously been
extended to Winston Churchill.
The medal’s obverse (heads side) will feature a close-up portrait of
Wallenberg. Inscriptions on the obverse
will be RAOUL WALLENBERG, ACT OF CONGRESS 2012, and HERO OF HEROES.
The medal’s reverse (tails side) will depict 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 on the medal’s reverse will
include HE LIVES ON FOREVER THROUGH THOSE
HE SAVED around the upper border and ONE PERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE beneath the Schutz-pass. Bronze reproductions of the medal, also
authorized by Public Law 112-148, will be available for purchase from the
United States Mint at a later date.
The Raoul Wallenberg Congressional Gold Medal obverse
design is by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart, and the reverse
design is by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill. Both Sculptor-Engravers will execute the
respective obverse and reverse designs.
The United States Mint was created by Congress in 1792 and became part
of the Department of the Treasury in 1873.
It is the Nation's sole manufacturer of legal tender coinage and is
responsible for producing circulating coinage for the Nation to conduct its
trade and commerce. The United States
Mint also produces numismatic products, including proof, uncirculated and
commemorative coins; Congressional Gold Medals; and silver and gold bullion
coins. The United States Mint's
numismatic programs are self-sustaining and operate at no cost to the taxpayer.
For more information about the United States Mint, please visit www.usmint.gov.
Suzanne Elio is a
Spokesperson for Domestic Finance at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.