Subject: Pool Report 5
After the joint press conference, motorcade loaded up for five minute ride to Stockholm’s Great Synagogue.
Per White House guidance, the synagogue holds 1,000 people and its eternal flame has stayed lit since the building opened in 1870.
When pool was escorted inside the temple we saw potus, wearing a white yarmulke, leaning down over a table, examining artifacts connected to the life of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat and businessman who rescued tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazis.
The artifacts included Wallenberg’s phone book, diary and Swedish passport, along with the “protective passports or ‘Schutz-pass’ (belonging) to a Hungarian couple who survived the war in large part thanks to Wallenberg’s heroic efforts and his issuance of the protective passports,” according to the White House.
Potus peered at the artifacts and quietly commented on what was being shown by Nina Lagergren, Wallenberg’s 92-year-old half-sister.
After pool was ushered out, potus and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt left the building and solemnly examined the imposing gray Holocaust Memorial wall outside. The wall is engraved with names of more than 8,000 Holocaust victims related to Swedish Jews, according to the White House.
The president then walked to a lectern to give a statement, facing members of Wallenberg’s family who were seated in front of him. He noted that tonight is the first night of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
“So to all our Jewish friends here in Sweden, in the United States and around the world – especially in Israel – I want to wish you and your families a sweet and happy new year. L’Shanah Tovah.”
The president quoted Wallenberg as saying, “I will never be able to go back to Stockholm … without knowing inside myself I had done all a man can do to save as many Jews as possible.”
After his remarks, Mr. Obama went from row to row in the audience, greeting the family members and making small talk.
He ignored a question from a reporter: “Mr. President, will you ask Putin about Wallenberg?”