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The Heroic Actions of Raoul Wallenberg in Saving Hungarian Jews

Mar 14, 2023 | 0 comments

Mar 14, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments


On the 4th of August 1912 in Sweden, Stockholm, Raoul Wallenberg was born (Carlberg 3). Carlberg mentions that before Wallenberg was born his father passed on, and therefore Wallenberg was brought up wholly by his mother with the help of his grandmother (3). According to Carlberg, Wallenberg’s paternal grandfather dexterously planned and made arrangements for Wallenberg to have his education efficiently, together with a substantial number of trips to visit various foreign countries, thus making Wallenberg sufficiently proficient in various languages as well as attain the diplomacy art (5).

Even with Wallenberg’s family’s hoping and aiming for him to choose his career as a banker, after his high school education Raoul Wallenberg joined the military service which was compulsory at that time (Simon, Emma & Thomas 9). Simon, Emma and Thomas mention that travelling to the United States Wallenberg joined the University of Michigan, and pursued his honors in architecture (9). In 1935 Wallenberg graduated and travelled back to Sweden, to work in a Swedish firm based in South Africa, a job that his grandfather had made arrangements for, here he sold construction materials (Carlberg 8). Carlberg states that after working in the Swedish firm Wallenberg worked in Palestine, Haifa at Dutch Bank (8). While working at Palestine Wallenberg encountered Jews who were lucky to escape Nazi Germany persecution, listening to the testimonies planted a profound impact on him.

In the year 1936, Wallenberg travelled back to his home country Sweden where he began working for a Hungarian Jew, Kálmán Lauer who ran an export as well as import business (Carlberg 10). However in the year 1938, Carlberg mentions that there were a number of imposed travel restrictions set in Europe by the Nazis, thus making is significantly difficult for Lauer to manage his businesses; particularly because he originated and was a Hungary native, therefore Wallenberg took his place in conducting the businesses in Hungary (10). Carlberg points out that while in Hungary, Wallenberg was effective and quick in learning the bureaucracy operations of the Nazis (11). Utilizing his exemplary language as well as interpersonal skills, Wallenberg successfully expanded the business and thus become an equal partner in ownership of the businesses.

Simon, Emma and Thomas state that after his studies in the 1930’s at the United States, and his establishment in Sweden, in a successful business career, Wallenberg in 1944 June joined the WRB ( US War Refugee Board ) and travelled to Hungary (10). With Wallenberg’s status given Swedish legation to be the diplomat, he was tasked with assisting as well as saving the Hungarian Jews (Simon, Emma & Thomas 11).

Budapest Wallenberg’s Arrival

Assigned in Hungary by the Swedish legation to be the first secretary in the year 1944 on 9th of July Wallenberg travelled to Budapest (Schult 11). Schult explains that even with lack of diplomacy experience as well as clandestine operations, Wallenberg was able to lead significantly successful as well as extensive rescue efforts throughout the Holocaust period (12). Wallenberg WRB position of work enables him to prevent thousands of the Hungarian Jews from being deported (Schult 18).

Germany had allied Hungary, however with the defeat of Germany as well as the Hungarian losses forced Hungary as a country to sort out for armistice among the allies to the west (Schult 13). Furthermore, forestalling of the necessary peace feelers, Hungary was forcefully occupied by Germany in the year 1944 on the 14th of March. Moreover, Schult points out that Miklos Horthy the Hungarian then Head of State was coerced into the appointment of a government that was pro-German under the leadership of Dome Sztojay (16). The government of Sztojay was already prepared to a path towards the continuation of the war as well as to ensure the deportation of the Hungarian Jews into Poland where the Germans had occupied. Nevertheless, Schult explains that no long after their occupation in Hungary, the Hungarian officials started rounding up and collecting every Hungarian Jew transferring them to the custody of the Germans (17).

According to Larsson by the year 1944 on July, both the Germans as well as the Hungarians have done deportation of about 440,000 Hungarian Jews (22). Larsson further states that a significant percentage of those deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, faced execution by the SS, thus leading to the loss of 320,000 Hungarian Jews lives; just on their arrival (22). Those that escaped execution on arrival faced deployment to Auschwitz, amongst other camps for forced labor purposes. As per Larsson, around 200,000 Jews stayed in back in Budapest; however, those in Hungarian authority were determined to force them into deportation as well as ensure they are aligned in total compliance with all of the requests of the Germans (23).

Wallenberg arrived in Budapest in the year 1944 in the month of July and not long after that dexterously began the distribution of certificates to protect the Jews (Carlberg, Kofi & Ebba 26). Carlberg, Kofi & Ebba express that in autumn of 1944 Wallenberg constantly involved himself with the intervention of securing the release of certificates bearers of protection, as well as those in possession of papers that were forged (27).

According to Carlberg, Kofi & Ebba amongst the first tasks Wallenberg indulged himself in was the designing of a substantially protective Swedish passport (27). Carlberg, Kofi & Ebba point out that the, as well as the German bureaucrats, were weak when it came to symbology, therefore Wallenberg printed the passports purposely in yellow and blue together with the coat of arms of Sweden right in the middle (28). Carlberg, Kofi & Ebba further state that Wallenberg efficiently ensure the furnishing of the passports with the necessary signatures as well as stamps (28). Wallenberg was able to convince the then Foreign Ministry of Hungary to allow the approval of 4,500 protective passports for the Jews. The reality of the matter was that Wallenberg had actually issued more than three times that number. As the war was coming close to an end, the environment became desperate because of the worsening conditions; Wallenberg eventually began issuing protective passports in a substantially simplified version bearing his signature only (Carlberg, Kofi & Ebba 30). Nevertheless, with the prevailing chaos, this move still did its purpose and worked.

Carlberg, Kofi & Ebba explain that in order to continue achieving his set objectives, Wallenberg utilized everything he could ranging from threats of blackmail to bribery (31). There were many of the Swedish Legation diplomats who were at the beginning quite skeptical about these methods that were significantly unconventional methods (Carlberg, Kofi & Ebba 31). However, when his great efforts began yielding hopeful results, the fellow diplomats were quick to support and back his endeavors. With time Wallenberg’s department grew and was expanded having hundreds of people employed there when at its highest peak periods.

Rescue Steps and Activities

Jangfeldt, Bengt and Harry state that Wallenberg took several great steps towards his rescue mission, first of all after the Swedish Government authorization Wallenberg distributed a great number of certificates of protection to the Jews that had been issued through the Swedish legation, all in Budapest not long after arriving in Hungary’s capital (46).

Wallenberg utilized the Swedish as well as the WRB financial and resources funding to enable the successful establishment of nurseries, hospitals as well as soup kitchens (Jangfeldt, Bengt and Harry 48). Furthermore, according to Jangfeldt, Bengt and Harry, Wallenberg initiated the designation of over 30 substantial “safe” houses that eventually led to the formation of the foundation of the Budapest “international ghetto” (49). Jangfeldt, Bengt and Harry state that the Budapest international ghetto particularly in reservation for the Jews together with their families all in possession of certificates of protection and immigrating from a country that is neutral (50).

In 1944 on the 15th of October, just after the kicking off of the Hungarian fascist Arrow Cross campaign and movement that were able to seize power using the assistance of the Germans; Arrow Cross government returned the malicious act of depositing the Hungarian Jews, an act that Horthy had managed to stop in the month of July right before deportation of the Budapest Jews had begun (Vajda 56). Vajda points out that with the Soviet troops already cutting off the routes for rail transportation to Auschwitz, the authorities of Hungary then forced a march west for Budapest Jews more than tens of thousands were forced to the Austria -Hungary border (56). In 1944 autumn Wallenberg constantly personally fought for the intervention towards securing the release of all the Jews in ownership of the certificates of protection, including those that were forged papers; thus enabling many to be saved from the forceful marching columns towards the border.

Vajda explains those Wallenberg fellow diplomats, as well as other colleagues within Swedish legation that were from neutral countries efficiently, participated in all the rescue operations as well as activities (58). Vajda points out that Carl Lutz, who was the consul general as per Swiss legation, personally issued emigration certificates that placed almost 50,000 Budapest Jews under the Swiss protection, under the cover of being potential Palestine emigrants (59). Giorgio Perlasca an Italian businessman acted as Spanish diplomat. With the help of Laszlo as well as Eugenia Szamosi, Giorgio successfully issued Budapest certificates of protection to a great number of Jews who were in Budapest; under the delegation of nations who had their interests neutral, thus Spain was representing as well as establishing safe houses all over Budapest, amongst them one for the Jewish children (Vajda 60).

Budapest after the Liberation

In the year 1945 in the month of February, Budapest was liberated by the Soviet forces, having saved over 100,000 Jews, a large percentage of them due to the work put in by Wallenberg as well as his colleagues (Rosenfeld 56).

According to Rosenfeld in the year 1945 in the month of January, the Soviet forces imprisoned Wallenberg (60). Rosenfeld says that Wallenberg’s fate remained unknown (65). Rosenfeld further states that Russia claimed that Wallenberg died in 1947 on the 17th of July while in the Soviet prisons (65). Vajda points out, however, that a number of different witnesses’ reported seeing him later on, suggesting that there is a possibility Wallenberg might have lived on for more years (62).

In the year 2016 on the month of October, 71 years after Wallenberg’s disappearance the Swedish officials made a formal declaration that Wallenberg was legally dead.


According to Carlberg, b the late 1970s as well as the early 1980s, the heroism of Wallenberg as well as the mystery of his disappearance led to Wallenberg earning notoriety at an international level (72). Wallenberg left a legacy of compassion and courageousness to fight and resist evil, values that led to the transformed thousands of lives (Carlberg 72). A number of organizations were established with the objective of investigating his death.

Moreover, in the year 1981 Wallenberg posthumously received American citizenship, and in the year 1985, a street portion where the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is located in Washington DC was in his honor renamed after him (Carlberg72). Furthermore, Canada made him an honorary citizen in 1985, and Israel made him an honorary citizen as well in the year 1986; even Australia’s in the year 2013 made Wallenberg their first honorary citizen.

All over the world, there are statues, monuments as well as pieces of art in honor of Wallenberg. Wallenberg’s memory lives on through music, books as well as films; not to mention the numerous squares, buildings, schools, streets, as well as institutions that are named in his honor.


Carlberg, Ingrid, Kofi A. Annan, and Ebba Segerberg. Raoul Wallenberg: The Heroic Life and Mysterious Disappearance of the Man Who Saved Thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust. , 2016. Internet resource.

Carlberg, Ingrid. Raoul Wallenberg. Place of publication not identified: Maclehose Press, 2017. Print.

Jangfeldt, Bengt, and Harry Watson. The Hero of Budapest: The Triumph and Tragedy of Raoul Wallenberg. London: I.B. Tauris, 2014. Print.

Larsson, Jan. Raoul Wallenberg. Upsala, Sweden: Swedish Institute, 1995. Print.

Rosenfeld, Harvey. Raoul Wallenberg. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1995. Print.

Schult, T. Hero’s Many Faces: Raoul Wallenberg in Contemporary Monuments. Place of publication not identified: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. Print.

Simon, Emma, and Thomas Streissguth. Raoul Wallenberg. , 2016. Print.

Vajda, F J. E. Saved to Remember: Raoul Wallenberg, Budapest 1944 and After. , 2016. Print.


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