Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL

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

In Tribute: A HERO FOR OUR TIME

Agnes Adachi recalls the night when she and her co-workers needed to complete about 2,000 Schutzpasses and deliver them before six a.m. when the Nazis would be rounding up several thousands of Jewish women. She tells of working by candlelight in a villa on the outskirts of Budapest. Wallenberg came in and very calmly announced that the villa next door was the Gestapo headquarters. He then smilingly assured his staff that they must continue their work and not be alarmed. The Schutzpasses were completed, and each was delivered on foot before six a.m. According to Mrs. Adachi: "He made a game out of outfoxing the Nazis, but he played it with the utmost seriousness. Most of all, he was like a big brother one looked up to, and he had the most beautiful eyes that I have ever seen. They were so beautiful and they saw everything." Wallenberg's next step was crucial to ultimate success. In a section of Budapest designated by the Hungarian government as the "International Ghetto", Wallenberg purchased thirty buildings where he flew Swedish flags next to the Jewish Star. These buildings, and others for which he was able to negotiate, were given the full protection of the Swedish government. In these protected houses, Wallenberg set up hospitals, schools, soup kitchens, and a special shelter for 8,000 children whose parents had already been deported or killed. Generally, the Swedish flag and the passports held by those living in the houses were protection enough.

If his spies told him that a raid was being planned by the Nazis or their Hungarian counterparts, young, blond Jewish men living in the houses would be dressed in Nazi uniforms and put outside to "guard" the houses. Occasionally, however, all efforts failed. On Christmas Day, 1944, a gang of Hungarian Nazis entered a protective Swedish children's shelter and seventy-eight children were machined gunned and beaten with rifle butts. All died. Because of Wallenberg's swift action in setting up shelters that offered care and protection, the other neutral legations and the International Red Cross also followed and helped greatly to expand the number of protected houses.

After the war it was established that about 50,000 Jews living in the foreign houses of the International Ghetto had survived. Of these, about 25,000 were directly under Wallenberg's protection. On October 15, 1944, the legal Hungarian government of Admiral Horthy fell and a pro-Nazi government called the Arrow-Cross was installed. The Germans, who had previously not been so much in evidence, came pouring across the Hungarian border. The Arrow-Cross gendarmes, an elite, quasi-military corps, were Adolf Eichmann's greatest allies in his march toward the "final solution". If possible, they were even more sadistic than their German counterparts, and Eichmann used their fervor accordingly. In late 1944, with the Germans fighting on many fronts, the end of the war and an Allied victory began to seem imminent. This knowledge only seemed to spur Eichmann on to finish his "purification" of Hungary.

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