Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations, Internal Yad Vashem Road, Jerusalem
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, USHMM, 100 Raoul Wallenberg Pl SW, Washington, DC 20024
Raoul Gustaf Wallenberg (4 August 1912 – disappeared 17 January 1945)[note 1] was a Swedish architect, businessman, diplomat, and humanitarian. He saved thousands of Jews in German-occupied Hungary during the Holocaust from German Nazis and Hungarian Fascists during the later stages of World War II. While serving as Sweden's special envoy in Budapest between July and December 1944, Wallenberg issued protective passports and sheltered Jews in buildings designated as Swedish territory.
Berber Smit (Barbara Hogg), the daughter of Lolle Smit (1892–1961), director of N.V. Philips Budapest and a Dutch spy working for the British MI6, later claimed to have been his girlfriend, also assisted Wallenberg, as did her son. However, she was temporarily engaged to Wallenberg's colleague Lars Berg, and later married a Scottish officer; which has not dispelled claims that Wallenberg was homosexual.
On 17 January 1945, during the Siege of Budapest by the Red Army, Wallenberg was detained by SMERSH on suspicion of espionage and subsequently disappeared. He was later reported to have died on 17 July 1947 while imprisoned in the Lubyanka, the prison at the headquarters of the KGB secret police in Moscow. The motives behind Wallenberg's arrest and imprisonment by the Soviet government, along with questions surrounding the circumstances of his death and his ties to US intelligence, remain mysterious and are the subject of continued speculation.
During the war, the Wallenberg bank, Stockholms Enskilda Bank, collaborated with the German government. The Secretary of the US Treasury, Henry Morgenthau Jr. considered Jacob Wallenberg strongly pro-German, and in 1945, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation subjected the Bank to a blockade from engaging in business in the United States that was only lifted in 1947. Author Alan Lelchuk who interviewed, amongst others, Wallenberg's KGB interrogator, wrote a novel that imagines the more powerful of the family may have chosen not to use their influence to locate Raoul as it could have drawn attention to their misdeeds, and they may have considered him an embarrassment, not only for being a man of morality, but his possible homosexuality.
As a result of his successful efforts to rescue Hungarian Jews, Wallenberg has been the subject of numerous humanitarian honours in the decades following his presumed death. In 1981, US Congressman Tom Lantos, one of those saved by Wallenberg, sponsored a bill making Wallenberg an honorary citizen of the United States, the second person ever to receive this honour. Wallenberg is also an honorary citizen of Canada, Hungary, Australia, and Israel. Israel has designated Wallenberg one of the Righteous Among the Nations. Numerous monuments have been dedicated to him, and streets have been named after him throughout the world. The Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States was created in 1981 to "perpetuate the humanitarian ideals and the nonviolent courage of Raoul Wallenberg." It gives the Raoul Wallenberg Award annually to recognize persons who carry out those goals. He was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal by the United States Congress "in recognition of his achievements and heroic actions during the Holocaust."
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