Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL

The JEWISH POST remembers...
Raoul Wallenberg: A hero without a grave...

Its top priority, after the partial Nazi Hungarian occupation in June 1944, became the safety of the 750,000 Hungarian Jews. The War Refugee Board came to neutral Sweden, which had an active embassy in Budapest, looking for someone who would agree to go to Hungary. Such a person would work under the auspices of the Swedish government with the protection of a Swedish diplomatic passport, though representing and funded by the War Refugee Board. The War Refugee Board's representative in Hungary was to be given a large sum of money and would be empowered by the Swedish government to issue passports to as many Jews as possible. Raoul Wallenberg was chosen to be the War Refugee Board's representative. On July 9, 1944, Raoul Wallenberg, age 31, arrived at the Swedish embassy in Budapest. He traveled lightly with a backpack and a small pistol. is primary adversary was SS Lt. Col. Adolf Eichmann. By the time Wallenberg arrived in Hungary, all 437,000 Jews - men, women, and children - living outside Budapest had already been deported. The rest of Hungary's Jewish community consisted of the 230,000 Jews living in the capital. Wallenberg's first job was redesigning the Swedish protective passport. This new first secretary of the embassy found the document, which was legal and could be issued only by the Swedish legation, physically unimpressive. He knew that the Nazis and their Hungarian counterparts were frequently people of little education, who would be easily impressed by a large, official looking document. How correct this simple assessment proved to be! Wallenberg redesigned the "Schutzpass." He used the blue and yellow of the Swedish flag, and emblazoned the document with the symbol of the triple crown of Sweden. This passport saved the lives of tens of thousands of Jews, as well as a great number of anti-Nazi Hungarian partisans.

According to former staff member, Agnes Mandl Adachi, Wallenberg printed huge placards and put them up all over the city. The billboards, which pictured and proclaimed the validity of the Schutzpass, were designed to make the Nazis familiar with the document and its authority. In the darkest days of 1944, the Swedish protective passport even provided some humor in the midst of despair. Edith Ernester, who lived through that time, recalls: "It seemed so strange - this country of super-aryans, the Swedes, taking us under their wings. Often, when an Orthodox Jew went by, in his hat, beard and sidelocks, we'd say, 'Look, there goes another Swede.'

A special department was created in the Swedish embassy in Budapest with Wallenberg as its head. It was staffed primarily with Jewish volunteers. Initially, there were 250 workers; later, he had about 400 people working around the clock. Wallenberg seemed to sleep no more than an hour or two a night, and then it was wherever he happened to be working. He was everywhere. Wallenberg persuaded the Hungarian authorities to free the Jews on his staff from wearing the Yellow Star worn at all times by other Jews. This simple exemption allowed his workers much greater freedom of movement, as well as the protection of anonymity - an essential factor in carrying out many of Wallenberg's missions

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