Friday, November 8, 2013

The Mystery of Raoul Wallenburg

Triumph and tragedy. To quote:
In the course of less than eight weeks after Germany’s occupation of Hungary in March 1944, almost half a million Hungarian Jews were exterminated. It was the largest deportation operation of the whole war, and, according to Winston Churchill, ‘probably the greatest and most horrible crime ever committed in the history of the world’. In July Wallenberg was sent on an American-led diplomatic mission to Budapest with the task of trying to prevent the quarter of a million Jews still alive from being gassed.

The rescue effort that Wallenberg set in motion in Budapest was impressive in scope. He invented a new type of document, a ‘protective passport’, which was issued to close on 10,000 Jews who were made Swedish citizens and thereby avoided deportation and death. It is for this Schutzpass that he is best known. But an equally important part of his mission was the comprehensive social safety net that he built up. He organised health care and the distribution of foodstuffs, he set up children’s homes and homes for the elderly. Thanks to this humanitarian activity, thousands more were saved from starvation and death. (Read more.)

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