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Embassy of SwedenBudapest, Hungary

Local time 10:37 AM

Raoul Wallenberg

Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish businessman and diplomat who was active in Budapest during the final stages of World War II. Thanks to his creativity, organisational skills and personal courage, he managed to save the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews. The Embassy in Budapest works continuously to keep the memory of Raoul Wallenberg alive.

Raoul Wallenberg was born in 1912 in Stockholm. He trained as an architect but went on to work for a food import company. In 1944, he was recruited by the Swedish Foreign Ministry for a special mission in Budapest - his task was to save as many Jews as possible from the Nazi Holocaust.

Raoul Wallenberg worked quickly and efficiently. During his six months in Budapest, he built up an organisation with more than 300 employees. The Swedish Embassy, where he was employed, issued so-called protective passports to Jews, giving them temporary citizenship in neutral Sweden. Wallenberg acquired properties around Budapest where Jews could seek refuge and he organised food deliveries and medical care for thousands of people in need. 

After the Hungarian fascists, the Arrow Cross, took power in October 1944, the situation worsened. The Arrow Cross had no respect for protective passports or diplomatic immunity and a wave of violence swept through Budapest. From this point on, Wallenberg was out on the field trying to save lives. He went to train stations and other assembly points and ordered officers to release the Jews on his lists. The lists were often fabricated or expanded on the spot, all with the aim of saving as many Jews as possible from deportation. Wallenberg did not hesitate to confront armed Nazis.

In January 1945, Budapest was captured by the Soviet Red Army. Wallenberg was keen to get in touch with the Soviet army leadership to inform them of his rescue programme for the Hungarian Jews. However, the Red Army had Wallenberg arrested and he was taken to Moscow. What happened to him thereafter is still not fully clarified. Raoul Wallenberg was only 32 years old at the time of his disappearance and he never saw his family in Sweden again.

The Embassy in Budapest works continuously to preserve and honour the memory of Raoul Wallenberg. Together with various partners, the Embassy organises several school projects that use Raoul Wallenberg's example to highlight virtues such as democracy, human rights and civil courage. 

Learn more about Raoul Wallenberg and his legacy by visiting the digital city walk In the footsteps of Raoul Wallenberg

Last updated 14 Sep 2023, 11.46 AM