Thursday, August 4, 2011

Raoul Wallenberg (August 4, 1912)

Here in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Wallenberg is a well-known figure because he studied at the University of Michigan from 1931-1935. Raoul Wallenberg Plaza on campus includes a plaque that reads: "Here we honor Raould Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat whose heroic actions to save tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews in 1944 are a contrast to the collaboration and silence which dominated Europe. A 1935 graduate of the University of Michigan College of Architecture, Raoul Wallenberg was taken captive by Soviet forces at the end of World War II, disappearing from sight but not from memory."

The Holocaust Memorial in Raoul Wallenberg Plaza, by Leonard Baskin:

As a member of a prominent Swedish family, Wallenberg became a partner in a firm with a Hungarian Jewish owner, and obtained various international jobs. While on assignment to a bank in Haifa in the mid-1930s, he met Jews who were fleeing from the early Nazi persecutions. Wallenberg had a distant Jewish ancestor, but his humanitarian commitments seem more universal than that.

In 1944, Wallenberg went to Budapest to try to save Jews from Nazi death camps. He succeeded in saving tens of thousands who were about to be deported, by issuing them certificates that said they were Swedish. For this he has been honored in many places.

At the end of the war, Wallenberg was arrested by the Soviets, and deported to Moscow. His fate was for a long time unknown, the subject of Soviet lies and evasions. The best guess seems to be that he was executed in Russia in 1947. See this article for more details.

No comments:

Post a Comment