Raoul Wallenberg - His Mission and His Activities in Hungary
In July 1944 Sweden, a neutral country, sent Wallenberg to Budapest to administer the issuing of passports and laissez-passers to Jews. These documents officially accorded the Swedish government’s protection of the bearers. Following an appeal by the King of Sweden, partially accepted by the Hungarian leader Miklós Horthy in June 1944, hundreds of Schutzpässe (protective passports) were issued to eligible Jews by the Swedish legation in Budapest. At this stage Wallenberg arrived in Budapest, having negotiated special conditions with the Swedish foreign office to facilitate his mission of rescuing as many Jews as possible. And, indeed, for three months deportations to Auschwitz ceased until a coup brought the Fascist Arrow Cross Party to power. At this time, tentative plans had been drawn up to transfer Jews with protective passports, as well as orphanage children, to Sweden. However, the coup immediately put 200,000 Jews in Budapest in danger. Wallenberg now feverishly began issuing protective passports without distinction and courageously, often personally, removed deportees from the hands of their captors. Swedish politicians dragged out negotiations regarding recognition of the Arrow Cross regime until the Russians surrounded Budapest at the end of December. The Arrow Cross and the Nazis made unsuccessful attempts to assassinate Wallenberg and he was forced to go underground. However, he continued his efforts to find housing, food, and money for his protégés. Wallenberg bribed, worked through the black market, and employed other illegal means to collect money for his activities. Hungarian Jews also deposited significant quantities of gold and jewelry with Wallenberg, which he took with him to the Russian command post on January 17, 1945, soon after the Red Army liberated Budapest. He was never seen again. Wallenberg’s endeavors probably saved some 70,000 Jews from extermination by the Arrow Cross and the SS.