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Raoul Wallenberg
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Hero
    (August 4, 1912-circa July 16, 1947)
    Born in Lidingo, Sweden
    Sent by Sweden to Hungary under diplomatic cover to help rescue the country's Jewish population
    Received financial backing from the US through the War Refugee Board
    Disappeared with his driver on his way to a meeting with the Soviet army commander (January 17, 1945)
    When he was unable to get work as an architect, his uncle got him a job in the family banking business.
    He was sent on his mission despite not speaking Hungarian.
    Claims that he directly confronted Adolf Eichmann appear to be a myth.
    Some complain that the focus on Wallenberg obscures the efforts of other people -- as many as 350 -- to rescue Hungarian Jews.
    The Soviets so thoroughly obscured his fate that during the more open glasnost era even they had trouble determining the truth.
    He issued thousands of Swedish visas to Hungarian Jews and organized a network of 34 safe houses protected by the Swedish embassy.
    Witnesses reported several occasions where he negotiated the release of Jews from trains about to depart for the concentration camps.
    A conservative estimate of the number of people he saved is 15,000.
    His sister Nina said, 'He could not only speak perfect German, he could scream it.'
    He slept in a different location each night to avoid being arrested or killed by the Nazis or Hungarian fascists.
    He most likely was murdered in 1947 on Stalin's orders.
    He was named an honorary citizen of the US (1981), Canada (1985), Israel (1986) and Budapest (2003).
    The portion of 15th Street in Washington, DC, where the Holocaust Memorial Museum sits was renamed Raoul Wallenberg place.
    Congressman Tom Lantos, one of the Jews he saved, said, 'In this age devoid of heroes, Wallenberg is the archetype of a hero -- one who risked his life day in and day out, to save the lives of tens of thousands of people he did not know whose religion he did not share.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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