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Raoul Wallenberg

Wallenberg, Raoul (räōlˈ vălˈĕnbâr) [key] 1912–47, Swedish diplomat and businessman. In 1944, he was assigned to Sweden's legation in Budapest, where he helped save approximately 100,000 Hungarian Jews from Nazi extermination in an effort secretly supported by the U.S. War Refugee Board. He issued Swedish passports to approximately 20,000 Jews and sheltered others in houses he bought or rented. Adolf Eichmann, heading the transport of Jews to concentration camps, demanded that Wallenberg stop these activities and ordered his assassination, but the attempt failed. In 1945, the Soviets, who had just entered Budapest, imprisoned him, possibly because of secret work he was doing for U.S. Office of Strategic Services. In 1957 the Soviet government announced that he had died in prison of a heart attack in 1947, but he was reported seen at later dates. In 1991 Soviet authorities released KGB records that, although they did not contain proof that Wallenberg was dead, appeared to confirm that he had died in 1947, most likely by execution. He was made an honorary U.S. citizen in 1981.

See J. Bierman, Righteous Gentile (1981), K. Marton, Wallenberg: Missing Hero (1982, repr. 1995).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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