On September 30, the 2014 Wallenberg Medal is being awarded to Agnes Heller, a distinguished philosopher and Holocaust survivor who seeks to understand the nature of ethics and morality in the modern world, and the social and political systems and institutions within which evil can flourish.
Like Wallenberg, Professor Heller has demonstrated that courage is the highest expression of civic spirit. She has been witness to regimes that have organized murder, crushed dissent and persecuted independent voices. In 1944, as a young woman surviving in Budapest, she knew the name Wallenberg. She spoke out vigorously for autonomy and self-determination after the suppression of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Following the defeat of the 1968 Prague Spring, she went into exile and became the Hannah Arendt Visiting Professor of Philosophy in the Graduate Studies Program of The New School in New York. She is a highly influential scholar who publishes internationally-acclaimed work on ethics, aesthetics, modernity, and political theory. In 2010, she was awarded Germany’s Goethe Medal. Since retirement, Agnes Heller has returned to Budapest. She remains fully engaged in public life, speaking out against the neo-nationalist and anti-Semitic strains again current in Hungary.
She will be awarded the medal and will present the Wallenberg Lecture on September 30, 2014 at 7:30 at the Rackham Graduate School.
A 1935 graduate of the University of Michigan College of Architecture, Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg saved the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews near the end of World War II, and subsequently vanished into the Soviet Gulag. The Wallenberg Medal is an award given in his memory and honor.
For more information regarding programs at U-M that honor Raoul Wallenberg including the Wallenberg lecture, Wallenberg Fellows and Summer Travel Award recipients, please visit our website at Wallenberg.umich.edu.