"He who saves one life is considered to have saved the entire world."
In July 1944, the young Swedish diplomat Raoul Gustaf Wallenberg was appointed by both the Swedish government and the U.S. government's War Refugee Board to rescue as many of the remaining 230,000 Jews in Hungary as possible. August 4th will mark the 110th birthday of Wallenberg now known as a Holocaust hero “non pareil.”
In only 6 months, with untold courage, moral conviction and unmitigated audacity, Raoul Wallenberg rescued tens of thousands of Jews in Hungary. Along with the Swedish Legation and fellow diplomats in Budapest, Wallenberg dragged many off trains bound for Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps, set up several safe houses, granted Schutzpasses to thousands of Jews for protection and safe passage, faced off the fascist Hungarian Arrow Cross, and stood against the tyranny of infamous Nazi Adolph Eichmann.
Wallenberg risked his life to save lives, possibly as many as 100,000, yet tragically on January 17, 1945, he was arrested and imprisoned by Soviet authorities, never to be seen again publically. His so-called “official” date of death was declared 71 years later as July 17, 1947, but his exact fate and burial location are still unknown. Historian Dr. Yoav Tennenbaum aptly described Wallenberg as, "a Hero without a grave."
Raoul Wallenberg has been honored worldwide posthumously for decades by public monuments, educational institutions, commemorative coins, feature films, and awards – receiving the title Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal, honorary U.S. citizenship, and so much more.
In our time, may the legacy of Raoul Wallenberg live on and continue to inspire many for generations to come - both Jews and Righteous Gentiles. As Wallenberg once declared to Swedish attaché Per Anger:
“To me there is no other choice. I’ve accepted this assignment and I could never return to Sweden without the knowledge that I’d done everything within my human power to save as many Jews as possible.”
The author, currently lives in Middle Tennessee and has researched the fate of Raoul Wallenberg and served for years as media advisor to the founder/chairman of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation based in New York, Buenos Aires and Jerusalem.