Hero of the Budapest Jews: Raoul Wallenberg


Raoul Wallenberg was born on August 4, 1912 to Maj Wising Wallenberg and Raoul Oscar Wallenberg in Sweden. He was born 3 months after his father’s death, so he grew up with his stepfather, Fredrik von Dardel who his mother married when he was six. Wallenberg had a sister named Nina and a brother named Guy. The Wallenberg family was famous for being bankers. Despite the fact that he was breaking the family legacy, Raoul got a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture at the University of Michigan. From there he traveled to Cape Town, South Africa to sell ship building materials. After that he went to Haifa, Israel to become a copartner with Koloman Lauer for the Mid-European Trading Company. As a non-Jew Wallenberg was able to travel more than Lauer considering that Lauer was Jewish.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9417 to establish the War Refugee Board. It was the War Refugee Board who established Raoul Wallenberg in the Swedish Legation with the purpose to save as many Jews as they could.Wallenberg was different than other “saviors” to the Jewish people because he asked the Swedish Legation if he could work on his own without the need of approval by authority. Along with Per Anger, Wallenberg’s associate, they issued thousands of illegal shutzpasses, which were pieces of worthless paper that were decorated with official looking stamps and signatures.

According to Anger, at least 100,000 Jews can thank Wallenberg for saving their lives. Wallenberg’s methods of saving people were extraordinary because he used bribery and threats. Many of the authorities were shocked by the tactics Wallenberg used, but they undoubtedly saw the success of the tactics. Today, a tree is planted at the Avenue of the Righteous in Yad Vashem, Israel in honor of Raoul Wallenberg. In 1981, Raoul Wallenberg posthumously became an honorary U.S. citizen. This honor is only held by eight people.

Raoul Wallenberg inspires me because he was daunting in the way he defied the Nazis. Today, not much is being shown to observe the characters of heroes during the Holocaust. I think that history books have done enough to show the horrific events that Nazis and ultimately Hitler orchestrated. However, they don’t show the men and women with integrity who stood up in what they knew was right. They don’t show how these people saved thousands of lives. Not all of them saved more than a hundred lives, because there are people who saved only a family yet they are still heroes. Much evil was done during this era but difficult times challenge humans on their faith and what they believe in. I believe that during tragic era’s in history, men and women rise up to challenge the wrongdoers. Eventually, these people of integrity do something about it. 


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