Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish architect, businessman, diplomat and humanitarian who rescued tens of thousands Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary during the Holocaust.
It is estimated that under Wallenberg’s leadership he and his associates distributed Swedish passports to 20,000 of Budapest’s Jews and protected 13,000 more in safe houses that he rented and which flew the Swedish flag. Wallenberg even hung signs on these buildings labeling them “The Swedish Library” or the ambiguous “Swedish Research Institute,” claiming diplomatic immunity for these buildings and all who resided inside them. Source
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For location of safe houses see Jenö Lévai's "Raul Wallenberg Budapest, 1948". p.252
- Pozsonyi út 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 12. 14, 15-17, 22, 40.
- Pannonia utca: 8, 15, 17/a, 36.
- Legrady Karoly utca: 39, 48/b.
- Tatra utca: 4, 5/a, 5/b, 12/a, 15 a and b.
- Karpati utca 3.
These houses housed about 4,000 persons. Source
Using his American funds, Wallenberg scoured the city for buildings to rent. He eventually found thirty-two, which he declared to be “extraterritorial buildings” protected by Swedish diplomatic immunity. In Budapest he found a way “to place 35,000 people in buildings designed for fewer than 5,000.” These Wallenberg’s “safe houses” saved tens of thousands Jewish lives.
Wallenberg's colleagues in the Swedish legation and diplomats from other neutral countries also participated in rescue operations.
- Carl Lutz, the Consul General in the Swiss legation, issued certificates of emigration, placing nearly 50,000 Jews in Budapest were under Swiss protection as potential emigrants to Palestine.
- Giorgio Perlasca, an Italian businessman, posed as a Spanish diplomat.
Closely assisted by Laszlo and Eugenia Szamosi, Perlasca issued to many Jews in Budapest certificates of protection for nations whose interests neutral Spain represented and established safe houses, including a house for Jewish children. Source
A woman from Wallenberg’s office recalled an occasion when Wallenberg heard that Hungarian Nazis were shooting women and children at the river. He asked his staff who could swim. “We went—it was a cold night—and jumped into the Danube—the water was icy cold.” They saved fifty or sixty people.
Wallenberg worked constantly, sleeping only four hours a night. He was an inspiration to the Swiss and Swedish neutrals working on similar humanitarian missions, to the Red Cross, and to those who worked at his side. But perhaps even more important was his ability to revive hope in those who believed they were doomed. Source