Saturday, January 31, 2015

Raoul Wallenberg A Life to Aspire Too

During World War Two, a young Swedish diplomat saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazis. But in January 1945 Soviet troops arrested him - he was never seen in public again.

Towards the end of WW II  Hitler had begun to distrust the Hungarian leader Miklos Horthy and on 19 March 1944, German forces occupied Hungary.After the invasion hundreds of thousands of Jews across Hungary were rounded up, moved into ghettos and forced on to deportation trains.
With the help of the Hungarian government, the Nazis deported 440,000 Jews from Hungary in the space of two months - most were sent to the largest and most infamous death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau. 

During the summer of 1944, Sweden - with US backing - agreed to use its diplomatic mission in Budapest to help Hungary's remaining Jews. 
Thirty-one-year-old businessman Raoul Wallenberg came from one of Sweden's wealthiest and most important families - he had no diplomatic experience and had studied architecture at university, but his charisma marked him out. 

He was appointed Sweden's special envoy and arrived in Hungary in July - by that time the only Jewish community left in the country was in the capital Budapest.

The Nazi's began to immediately  the deport Jews first from the countryside then the major cities. Budapest was to be the last point of deportation.  Thankfully, there were still Jews left there for Wallenberg, the other Swedes and the other neutral diplomats to do something," 

Before Wallenberg's arrival, the Swedish embassy in Budapest was already issuing travel documents to Hungarian Jews - these special certificates functioned as a Swedish passport. The papers had no real authority in law but the Swedes managed to persuade the Hungarian authorities that people holding them were under their protection. 

When Wallenberg arrived, he decided that the certificates needed to look more official so he redesigned them. He introduced the colours of the Swedish flag, blue and yellow, marked the documents with government stamps and added Swedish crowns. It was known as a Schutz-Pass or protective pass. 

Wallenberg negotiated with the Hungarians to allow him to issue nearly 5,000 Schutz-Passes but according to the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, he issued more than three times that number.

Some people contacted the Swedish embassy in Budapest for them, but Wallenberg and his staff also delivered passes to Jews throughout city. 

One of Wallenberg's drivers recounted how the diplomat intercepted a train about to leave Budapest for Auschwitz. " Raoul Wallenberg climbed up on the roof of the train, carrying a bundle of passports and started to hand them out, ignoring  the Nazi and Hungarian guards who were firing warning shots.   In the end, the guards ordered anyone who held a protective pass to get off the train, thus saving them from certian death." 

 Wallenberg also bought and rented more than 30 buildings in Budapest including hospitals and a soup kitchen - he hung Swedish flags from their front doors and declared that they were protected by Swedish diplomatic immunity. At least 15,000 Jews moved in for protection and hundreds more worked for Wallenberg. 

 Raoul Wallenberg was blessed by GOD with intelligence, power and charisma which he used with feverish intent to save as many Jews as possible. 

At the tail end of the war as Russian troops were storming into Hungry, Wallenberg's final achievement was to persuade the Nazis to stop the planned annihilation of the main Jewish ghetto in Budapest, which was home to 70,000 people. 

The German general in charge received a letter from Wallenberg - in it he promised the general would be held personally responsible for the ghetto's destruction and would be hung as a war criminal once the war was over.   The planned massacre of Jewish men, women, and children was halted with only hours to spare. 

In January 1945, after the Soviet Union captured eastern Budapest, Raoul Wallenberg was arrested by Soviet troops on the charge of espionage. It was the last time he was seen alive. 

Info Source: and Wikipedia

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