Righteous Gentile: The Story of Raoul Wallenberg, Missing Hero of the Holocaust by John Bierman

Description: The biography of a Swedish diplomat during World War II, who risked his life daily as he provided Swedish passports & papers to thousands of Jewish refugees in Budapest.
Half a century after he disappeared into the Soviet prison system, the fate of Raoul Wallenberg–who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust–remains a mystery. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, KGB files were opened, but the Wallenberg file had been destroyed, thereby eliminating any evidence to support the Kremlin’s claim that Wallenberg died in prison in 1947. Bierman concludes that we may never know the truth.

Opening: Early in March 1944, Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann was supervising the construction of a hostel for Gestapo officers on a site some fifty miles from Berlin.

In the first few pages alone there were statistics I have not seen laid down so consisely before. Somewhat dry stylistically but a very interesting read albeit grisly and harrowing at times as one expects from any literature detailing the final solution under Eichmann.

I especially liked the airing of the view that because of the guilt Swedes felt at allowing Nazi transit through their country, Wallenberg’s nine point plan was accepted. This is 1944 when it was clear to Sweden that Germany would not win the war.

I couln’t find a picture of Baroness Elizabeth Kemény-Fuchs, however there is a lovely footnote on page 95:

Baroness Kemény was evacuated with other government wives and families – and most of the diplomatic corps – on 29 November. Wallenberg went to see her off at the station, taking a bunch of flowers.

Dear Master Projectionist has found me a film: God Afton, Herr Wallenberg (1990). (starring Stellan Skarsgård – yum) It is based on the same film which inspired Wallenberg to lay down his nine point plan in the first place, and irony of ironies, written in this book as a footnote page 29: [Leslie] Howard, considered by his fans to be the quintessential Englishman, was by odd coincidence actually a Hungarian Jew, born Lászlo Stainer.

Deportation of the jewish residents of Koszceq, a hungary village (1944)

Hungarian Arrow Cross militia and a German Tiger II tank in Budapest, October 1944.

A group of Hungarian Jews rescued from deportation by Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. Budapest, Hungary, November 1944.

When Raoul Wallenberg arrived in Budapest in July 1944 as secretary to the Swedish Legation, he had no prior background in diplomacy.


2nd January 2012 – The Swedish government has announced that it will designate 2012 as the official “Raoul Wallenberg Year” and the honour is more than deserved.


17th January 2012 – The Soviet secret police and its Russian successor actively blocked a probe into the fate of Swedish Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg and Sweden was informed, researchers say, citing a recently unearthed document.


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