1997 32c Raoul Wallenberg

# 3135 - 1997 32c Raoul Wallenberg

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US #3135
1997 Raoul Wallenberg

  • Honors Swedish Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg – only the 2nd person in history to be made an honorary American citizen (the first being Winston Churchill)


Stamp Category: 
Commemorative
Value:  32¢, First Class Mail Rate
First Day of Issue:  April 24, 1997
First Day City:  Washington, DC
Quantity Issued:  96,000,000
Printed by:  Printed for Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. By Sterling Sommer
Printing Method:  Offset
Format:  Panes of 20 (Horizontal 4 across, 5 down)
Perforations:  11.1
Tagging:  Phosphored paper

Why the stamp was issued:  To honor Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish man who helped save 20,000 Jews in his Swedish territory and 70,000 in the Budapest ghetto, and lost his life in the process.

About the stamp design:  Pictures Wallenberg on the phone with three Budapest Jewish refugees in the background as well as an image of one of Wallenberg’s famous “Schutz-passes,” or “safe passes,” printed in German and Hungarian.  The pass includes a portrait of another Jewish woman as well as the distinctive Swedish triple crowns, indicating the pass-bearer would be “repatriated” to Sweden and in the meantime was under protection by the Royal Swedish Legation.

Special design details:  The stamp pictures artwork by Burt Silverman of New York City.  Art director Howard Paine said “I thought it would be nice to have a Jewish artist who would have a feeling for this subject.. But I also wanted to have a mature individual who would remember World War II, rather than some young person who might know how to render images beautifully and imaginatively but wouldn’t have the investment in the subject that someone of Burt’s age would have.”

Silverman used photographic references provided by PhotoAssist, the USPS’s research firm in Washington.  Dr. Robert Kesting, senior archivist at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, served as key consultant on the project and gave Silverman several examples of Schutz-passes and photographs of Budapest Jews wearing their Star of David identification.  Silverman used all these images to create two oil paintings for the Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee to choose from.

The Schutz-pass on the stamp is based on one given to a young Budapest mother (it also covered her 4-year-old and 3-year-old sons).  Silverman said “The face of the woman on this pass was so compelling that I really wanted to paint it almost exactly the way it appeared,” but he had to make some changes to fulfill USPS requirements that the image be symbolic, not an exact depiction of a person who may or may not have still been alive at the time of issue. 

The images of the other three Jewish refugees on the stamp were based on photographs from the Hungarian National Museum taken by Yevgeny Khaldei, a photographer with the Soviet Army from 1944 to 1945.  The Hungarian National Museum quoted Khaldei’s recollection of taking the photograph:  “(In January 1945) I went into a ruined street in Budapest, and there was a Jewish couple wearing Stars of David.  They were afraid of me.  There was still fighting going on in the city, and they thought I might be an SS soldier.  So I said Shalom to them, and the woman began to cry.  After I’d taken the picture, I pulled their stars off and said, ‘The fascists are beaten.  It’s terrible to be marked like that…’”

First Day City:  The stamp was dedicated at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.  USPS Governor S. David Fineman said at the ceremony “As Jews around the world celebrate Passover by retelling the story of their liberation, it is fitting that we honor Wallenberg, whose heroism and courage wrote another stirring chapter in the story of the quest for tolerance.”

History the stamp represents:  Courageous and selfless, Raoul Wallenberg is an individual truly worthy of being honored on a US stamp.  Born to a prominent family of bankers, industrialists, and diplomats, Wallenberg was appointed as a special diplomatic envoy to the Swedish Mission in Budapest, Hungary in 1944.  Although more than 400,000 Hungarian Jews had already been deported by this time, he immediately sought to rescue the thousands of remaining Jews assigned to Nazi death camps.

Often using his own money, he established “safe houses” under the Swedish flag where Jews could find food, shelter, and safety from persecution.  In addition, he also distributed Swedish passports and false identification papers to over 20,000 Jews.

Arrested by Soviet authorities in January 1945, Wallenberg reportedly died in 1947 of a heart attack.  However, reports that he was alive somewhere within the Soviet prison system continued to circulate through the 1980s.  More than a decade later, his true fate remains unknown.  In 1981, President Ronald Reagan declared Raoul Wallenberg an honorary US citizen, only the second person in history to be given this honor (the first being Winston Churchill).

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US #3135
1997 Raoul Wallenberg

  • Honors Swedish Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg – only the 2nd person in history to be made an honorary American citizen (the first being Winston Churchill)


Stamp Category: 
Commemorative
Value:  32¢, First Class Mail Rate
First Day of Issue:  April 24, 1997
First Day City:  Washington, DC
Quantity Issued:  96,000,000
Printed by:  Printed for Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. By Sterling Sommer
Printing Method:  Offset
Format:  Panes of 20 (Horizontal 4 across, 5 down)
Perforations:  11.1
Tagging:  Phosphored paper

Why the stamp was issued:  To honor Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish man who helped save 20,000 Jews in his Swedish territory and 70,000 in the Budapest ghetto, and lost his life in the process.

About the stamp design:  Pictures Wallenberg on the phone with three Budapest Jewish refugees in the background as well as an image of one of Wallenberg’s famous “Schutz-passes,” or “safe passes,” printed in German and Hungarian.  The pass includes a portrait of another Jewish woman as well as the distinctive Swedish triple crowns, indicating the pass-bearer would be “repatriated” to Sweden and in the meantime was under protection by the Royal Swedish Legation.

Special design details:  The stamp pictures artwork by Burt Silverman of New York City.  Art director Howard Paine said “I thought it would be nice to have a Jewish artist who would have a feeling for this subject.. But I also wanted to have a mature individual who would remember World War II, rather than some young person who might know how to render images beautifully and imaginatively but wouldn’t have the investment in the subject that someone of Burt’s age would have.”

Silverman used photographic references provided by PhotoAssist, the USPS’s research firm in Washington.  Dr. Robert Kesting, senior archivist at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, served as key consultant on the project and gave Silverman several examples of Schutz-passes and photographs of Budapest Jews wearing their Star of David identification.  Silverman used all these images to create two oil paintings for the Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee to choose from.

The Schutz-pass on the stamp is based on one given to a young Budapest mother (it also covered her 4-year-old and 3-year-old sons).  Silverman said “The face of the woman on this pass was so compelling that I really wanted to paint it almost exactly the way it appeared,” but he had to make some changes to fulfill USPS requirements that the image be symbolic, not an exact depiction of a person who may or may not have still been alive at the time of issue. 

The images of the other three Jewish refugees on the stamp were based on photographs from the Hungarian National Museum taken by Yevgeny Khaldei, a photographer with the Soviet Army from 1944 to 1945.  The Hungarian National Museum quoted Khaldei’s recollection of taking the photograph:  “(In January 1945) I went into a ruined street in Budapest, and there was a Jewish couple wearing Stars of David.  They were afraid of me.  There was still fighting going on in the city, and they thought I might be an SS soldier.  So I said Shalom to them, and the woman began to cry.  After I’d taken the picture, I pulled their stars off and said, ‘The fascists are beaten.  It’s terrible to be marked like that…’”

First Day City:  The stamp was dedicated at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.  USPS Governor S. David Fineman said at the ceremony “As Jews around the world celebrate Passover by retelling the story of their liberation, it is fitting that we honor Wallenberg, whose heroism and courage wrote another stirring chapter in the story of the quest for tolerance.”

History the stamp represents:  Courageous and selfless, Raoul Wallenberg is an individual truly worthy of being honored on a US stamp.  Born to a prominent family of bankers, industrialists, and diplomats, Wallenberg was appointed as a special diplomatic envoy to the Swedish Mission in Budapest, Hungary in 1944.  Although more than 400,000 Hungarian Jews had already been deported by this time, he immediately sought to rescue the thousands of remaining Jews assigned to Nazi death camps.

Often using his own money, he established “safe houses” under the Swedish flag where Jews could find food, shelter, and safety from persecution.  In addition, he also distributed Swedish passports and false identification papers to over 20,000 Jews.

Arrested by Soviet authorities in January 1945, Wallenberg reportedly died in 1947 of a heart attack.  However, reports that he was alive somewhere within the Soviet prison system continued to circulate through the 1980s.  More than a decade later, his true fate remains unknown.  In 1981, President Ronald Reagan declared Raoul Wallenberg an honorary US citizen, only the second person in history to be given this honor (the first being Winston Churchill).