?

Log in

No account? Create an account

29th January 2007

shoah, Wallenberg, judaism

One man can make a difference: Raoul Wallenberg

As I've already said, I am a teacher and teach English in a high school. Our school has an exchange with another high school in Sweden, about an hour's drive from Gothemburg. This exchange has been going on for at least 8 years and as a result I have taught myself some Swedish and I have learnt a little about the culture of this tiny northern country.

Two weeks ago, a famous Swede was honoured for what he did during WWII to save some of Budapest's Jews from the death camps. This date was chosen because January, 17 1947 was the last time he was officially seen alive sixty years ago. As an educator and a Jew myself I wanted to pay tribute to this man for what he did. In this day and age I find it difficult to find inspiring role models for our youths and at a time when the Holocaust is still denied by so many people I find his behaviour worth mentioning and remembering. This man was not predestined to save lives and yet he did and it cost him his own life in the end. In 1996, Wallenberg was honored at Israel's Yad Vashem memorial as one of the Righteous Among the Nations.


Here is a few lines about him found on Wikipedia:

Raoul Gustav Wallenberg (August 4, 1912 – July 16, 1947?) was a Swedish diplomat. In the later stages of World War II, he worked at great personal risk to save thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust. He was later arrested by the Soviets who suspected him of being an American spy; the circumstances of his death while in their custody are still a matter of controversy.

Wallenberg was assigned as first secretary to the Swedish legation in Budapest, Hungary, on July 9, 1944. Working with Per Anger (1914-2002), he used his diplomatic status to save many Hungarian Jews by issuing them Swedish "protective passports" (German: Schutz-Pass), which identified the bearers as Swedish subjects awaiting repatriation. Although not legally valid, these documents looked official and were generally accepted by German and Hungarian authorities, who sometimes were also bribed. Wallenberg also rented houses for Jewish refugees with embassy funds and put up signs such as "The Swedish Library" and "The Swedish Research Institute" on their doors. He also housed refugees in the Swedish legation in Budapest. Wallenberg negotiated with Nazi officials Adolf Eichmann; and General Gerhard Schmidthuber, the commander of the German Army in Hungary, and convinced them to cancel deportations to German concentration camps. He had his fascist ally, Pál Szalay, deliver a note in which Wallenberg threatened to have them prosecuted for war crimes. This was just two days before the Russians arrived. Yad Vashem credits him with saving the lives of "tens of thousands" of Hungarian Jews.