March 2, 2009, - 3:51 pm
Interesting New Info in the Curious Case of Raoul Wallenberg, Heroic Swede Who Saved Thousands of Jews
By Debbie Schlussel
One of the not so mysterious mysteries is what happened to Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who risked his life to save thousands of Jews from the Holocaust. Instead of going into the safe, wealthy banking life of his family, this University of Michigan architectural school grad instead volunteered to work with America to save thousands of Hungarian Jews, and apparently lost his own life in the process.
Although no one knows for sure what happened to Raoul Wallenberg, sightings and other accounts indicate that he was captured by the Soviets and likely died in one of their prisons. If he were alive today, this heroic, saintly man would be 96.
This weekend, the Wall Street Journal’s Joshua Prager wrote an extensive feature on the Wallenberg family’s search for his whereabouts. Although the article was very long, there were some interesting items in it.
For instance, that Wallenberg’s mother, Maj, and stepfather, Fredrik Von Dardel, devoted their lives and resources in the search for Wallenberg and eventually committed suicide after years of stonewalling by the Swedish government, itself.
The Swedes, apparently, were more concerned about maintaining “neutrality” and being in good standing with the Communist Soviets than in rescuing one of their most courageous citizens. Disgusting. What good is a country’s faux-neutrality, if it means doing nothing against Nazis, then later doing nothing to free your most brave citizen?
Also, interesting and of note is the letter written by Albert Einstein, a friend of Wallenberg’s half-brother Guy Von Dardel, to the Soviets on behalf of Raoul Gustav Wallenberg. The letter is very . . . Einsteinian.
Guy Von Dardel and Nina Lagergren promised their mother they would search for their brother until the year 2000, but they’ve continued their quest on and off over the years, even though they, themselves, are both now elderly.
I always wondered what got Wallenberg interested in his brave work. The article provides some background:
Raoul’s paternal grandfather, Gustav, groomed the multilingual Wallenberg scion for a banking career and dispatched him to business posts in South Africa, then Palestine.
There, in a kosher boarding house in Haifa in 1936, the Swedish Lutheran met a German Jew whose brother had been murdered by a Nazi. He soon read Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf twice, his half-sister recalls.
On Jan. 22, 1944, the United States established the War Refugee Board, an agency intended to protect the endangered populations of Europe. The board asked the Swedish foreign ministry, which staffed a mission in Budapest, to suggest a candidate to run an office there. Word reached Mr. Wallenberg.
Hired by the U.S. and granted diplomatic status by Sweden, Mr. Wallenberg, 31, arrived in Budapest on July 9, 1944. The Nazis had already deported more than half of Hungary’s 750,000 Jews, nearly all to Auschwitz in Poland, where most were killed. Slight, balding and colorblind, Mr. Wallenberg used safehouses, counterfeit passports and bravado to safeguard thousands who remained.
And finally, there is the detail that most surprised–and sickened me: That Raoul Wallenberg’s niece, the daughter of his half-sister, Nina Lagergren, is married to Kofi Annan, the anti-Israel–and frankly, anti-Semitic–food-for-oil scammer and former UN chief.
I think Mr. Wallenberg is turning over in his grave on that one. Ditto for the fact that Mr. Annan did nothing to help free his wife’s heroic uncle.
An interesting read. And I am certain of one thing:
If he is dead, Raoul Wallenberg is in Heaven. If he is alive, he is on deck to go there. He gave up everything to help so many, and he lost everything for doing so.
The Swedes may have forgotten Wallenberg when they could do something to save him, but many of us will never forget him.