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Hungary: posthumous "Righteous among the Nations" awardbestowed on war-time ICRC representative

31-03-2009 News Release 09/66

Budapest/Pannonhalma (ICRC) – The Israeli ambassador to Hungary handed over the prestigious "Righteous among the Nations" award today to Bishop Asztrik Varszegi, arch-abbot of Pannonhalma Abbey in western Hungary, in honour of Eduard Benedikt Brunschweiler, a representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) who arranged to shelter refugees in the abbey buildings in the final months of the Second World War. Brunschweiler died in 1987 at the age of 77.

The abbey will preserve the award on his behalf.

Brunschweiler took charge of the site in October 1944 and kept it under ICRC protection until Soviet forces expelled him in April 1945. Some 3,000 people, mostly children, spent the end of the war in the abbey. Many were of Jewish origin. Their lives were saved by the courage and unyielding moral stance of Brunschweiler and the Benedictine community of Pannonhalma.

" For those of us who are engaged in humanitarian action today, the life and work of Eduard Benedikt Brunschweiler remain a constant inspiration, " said Ambassador Jenö C.A. Staehelin, a member of the ICRC Assembly, at the ceremony. " The choices he and his colleagues made and the decisions they took must inspire us to do our utmost to ensure that, in today's world too, protection is extended to those who need it.

For further information, please contact:
  Zoltan Toth, ICRC Budapest, tel: +36 20 249 99 86