On an ordinary day in 1983, a lady is strolling alone through New York’s shopping district and stops at a bookstore. On one of the books in the shop window, she sees the photo of a man who awakens her innermost feelings and she immediately feels his enormous compassion. The man was Raoul Wallenberg. The lady was Lotte Stavisky (1907-2000) an American actress and sculptor with roots in Adolf Hitler’s Germany.
She specialised in creating sculptures of people – known and unknown – who faced difficulties and suffering in life. She said that no matter what difficulties or sufferings a person faces, it is not the difficulties or sufferings themselves that make a person a hero, but it is the way they confront them.
She spent a few days reading all about Raoul Wallenberg and immediately started work on the sculpture. Within a few weeks it was ready, with the broad forehead, powerful jaw and sad eyes fixed on something in the distance. The sculpture eventually found its way into an antique shop which, by coincidence, was visited by UN official Kofi Annan and his wife Nane, niece of Raoul Wallenberg. In 1996, Kofi Annan was appointed Secretary-General of the United Nations.
On 4 March 1987, the renowned businessman and politician Ross Perot was awarded the American Raoul Wallenberg Prize for his courage in rescuing American citizens abroad. The prize was visualised with Lotte Stavisky’s Raoul Wallenberg sculpture, which today stands in the foyer of Ross Perot’s head office. The sculpture has also been in the New York Public Library since 1986.
In Sweden, the sculpture is owned by the Raoul Wallenberg family. Following a parliamentary decision in September 2012, the sculpture is also located in the Swedish Parliament (the Riksdag), directly adjacent to the plenary chamber. The Raoul Wallenberg Schools have the right to place copies of the sculpture in its schools, and it can currently be found in some of them, in memory of our great role model.