Wallenberg, Raoul (1912-1947):
A Swedish diplomat who rescued the lives of approximately
100 000 Jews in Budapest. He is one of the great heroes of World War II.
Appointed first secretary of the Royal Swedish Legation in Budapest in June 1944, Wallenberg’s mission was to rescue Jews from nazi persecution. With the help of several hundred Jewish co-workers, he issued thousands of Swedish passes to protect Jews from the Germans and Hungarians. He erected approximately 30 “Swedish houses” in Budapest which were declared Swedish territory, providing shelters where Jews could seek refuge. Before long, the population in these houses reached 15 000. Wallenberg’s initiatives influenced other legations in Budapest to offer similar protections.
Raoul Wallenberg also rescued hundreds of Jews from Eichmann’s death marches. He saved approximately 100 000 Jews in Budapest’s two ghettos from a joint SS/Arrow Cross plan to blow them up right before the city was liberated.
After liberation, Wallenberg was summoned by the Sovietswho were very suspicious of the Swedish missionto army headquarters in Debrecen. On January 17th, 1945, he was escorted back to Budapest by two Soviet soldiers, and was overheard saying that he didn’t know whether he was their guest or prisoner. That same day, he disappeared.
In 1956, the Soviets informed Sweden that they had discovered a report saying Wallenberg died in a Soviet prison in 1947.