If you have a moment, maybe you could to stop whatever it is you are doing and meet an extraordinary man, a man who saved tens of thousands of lives only to lose his own — Raoul Wallenberg.
During the Second World War, the 32-year-old Raoul Wallenberg acted as a Swedish special envoy in Budapest, issuing protective passports and sheltering Jews. Not only that, but he used his own charisma to rescue Jews that were being taken away for deportation.
Raoul Wallenberg did not use traditional diplomacy. He more or less shocked the diplomats at the Swedish legation with his unconventional methods. Everything from bribes to extortion threats were used with success.
In the second week of January 1945, Wallenberg discovered that Eichmann planned a total massacre in Budapest’s largest ghetto. The only one who could stop it was general August Schmidthuber, commander-in-chief for the German troops in Hungary. Wallenberg’s ally Szalay was sent to deliver a note to Schmidthuber explaining how Wallenberg would ensure that the general be held personally responsible for the massacre if it proceeded and that he would be hanged as a war criminal after the war. The massacre was stopped at the last minute thanks to Wallenberg’s action.
— From the Jewish Virtual Library
In January 1945, during the Siege of Budapest, Wallenberg was detained by the Red Army on suspicion of espionage and subsequently disappeared. He was never seen again. His fate remains unclear, but it is most likely that he died in prison.
Why did they detain him? It’s unclear. Perhaps the Soviets could not understand why a Swedish man would take so much trouble to save Jews. But what is there to understand about kindness, about mercy, about hope, about love, about self-sacrifice?
It’s enough to read about a man like Raoul Wallenberg to be grateful to be alive, to be proud that you are human.
I invite you to read more about Raoul Wallenberg:
Or at least to listen to this short podcast about him from the BBC: