Sweden was neutral during World War II. Nevertheless, one of the greatest war heroes is from Sweden. War hero because he saved tens of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust. In January 1945, Raoul Wallenberg was captured by the Soviets in Budapest (Hungary). Suspected of being a spy. Officially, the Soviet Union claimed that he died of a heart attack in 1947 while in prison. However, observations suggest that Wallenberg lived many years later.
Saved thousands of Jews in Hungary
Raoul Wallenberg was a young well-educated diplomat and businessman who spoke both Russian and German. On 19 March 1944, German forces occupied Hungary and on 14 May Hungarian authorities began the deportation of Jews. In June 1944, he was commissioned to start a rescue operation whose purpose was to save Jews in Hungary from the Holocaust. He created a special group to work on this. The group rented houses and buildings in Budapest that were supposed to house Jews. These houses were named the Swedish houses. Wallenberg printed Swedish passports for the Jews to protect them. By issuing shielding gas and allowing the Jews to live in protected Swedish houses, tens of thousands of Jews were saved.
In 1944, the USA created the War Refugee Board (WRB), which was an organization whose purpose was to save Jews from Nazi persecution. It was a collaboration between the WRB and the Swedes, who had a common interest in saving as many Jews as possible from persecution.
Raoul Wallenberg arrested by the Soviets
13 January 1945 Soviet forces captured Budapest. The Nazi regime had fallen. 4 days later Raoul Wallenberg would visit the headquarters of the Soviet forces which was just outside Budapest. He himself was probably unsure how the meeting would go. He took many of the employees by the hand before he left and expressed that he did not show whether he wanted to be imprisoned or their guest.
That was the last time anyone saw Wallenberg in the Swedish delegation. He was arrested along with his driver. Why they were arrested is unclear, perhaps because Raoul Wallenberg was suspected of being a spy. His collaboration with WRB may be a cause of misunderstanding. The Lubyanka prison near Moscow was probably the next stop.
For many years, Sweden called for information on Raoul Wallenberg. Prisoners of war who returned from the Soviet Union in the 1950s could say that they had met Wallenberg in prison in Moscow. Only in 1957 did the Soviet Union come up with an answer to Sweden’s requests. This answer told that Raoul Wallenberg allegedly died of a heart attack in prison on 17 July 1947. However, there is considerable doubt surrounding this date. Several accounts from various sources say they met Raoul Wallenberg in prison in the 1950s.
A Swedish war hero
Raoul Wallenberg is an international symbol that work to help fellow human beings in need is useful. Thousands of Jews have been saved through the issuing of protection passports and the establishment of the Swedish houses. The Swedish diplomat has been honored with stauts, memorials and honorary citizenship in a number of places.