His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg

Louise Bor­den
  • Review
By – April 24, 2012
Raoul Wal­len­berg, born in a town near Stock­holm, Swe­den in 1912, came from a dis­tin­guished fam­i­ly who took pride in its her­itage and was high­ly admired for its gen­er­ous con­tri­bu­tion to Swedish soci­ety. Although Raoul’s father died when he was a baby, Raoul inher­it­ed his pas­sion for draw­ing and art; his grand­fa­ther want­ed him to be a cit­i­zen of the world and sent him to col­lege in Amer­i­ca where he excelled in archi­tec­ture. Back in Europe, war broke out with Hitler in com­mand and Wal­len­berg had dif­fi­cul­ty find­ing a job. His gift for lan­guages led him to work as an export-import trade rep­re­sen­ta­tive trav­el­ing around Europe. While trav­el­ing to Hun­gary, he watched as Jews in Budapest began to lose their rights; they were forced to give up their radios and bicy­cles and to sew a yel­low star on their cloth­ing, then lat­er, sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly round­ed up and led to con­cen­tra­tion camps. Wallenberg’s eye­wit­ness accounts of the Nazi bru­tal­i­ty and his strong moral con­vic­tions inspired him to do what he could to try to help the Jews. Assigned to the neu­tral Swedish lega­tion in Budapest, Wal­len­berg had the per­fect cov­er to act. He hired a net­work of trust­ed work­ers and orga­nized a unique set of doc­u­ments call shutz­pass which would, he hoped, pass as doc­u­men­ta­tion to pro­tect the Hun­gar­i­an Jews. Always at risk of being found out, Raoul Wal­len­berg showed great courage and took great risks to save the lives of over ten thou­sand Jews. Telling the sto­ry in free verse, acclaimed writer Louise Bor­den has trav­eled all over the world to retrace Raoul Wallenberg’s past and actu­al­ly became friends with his last remain­ing fam­i­ly mem­bers. Her sim­ple yet ele­gant prose suc­cinct­ly cap­tures the extra­or­di­nary life of a spe­cial hero and is sup­ple­ment­ed by clear black and white pho­tographs, maps and doc­u­ments that are care­ful­ly arranged through­out the text. Com­plete notes, index and bib­li­og­ra­phy make this a use­ful resource. Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 12 and up.
Debra Gold has been a children’s librar­i­an for over 20 years in the Cuya­hoga Coun­ty Pub­lic Library Sys­tem. An active mem­ber of the ALA, she has served on many com­mit­tees includ­ing the Calde­cott, New­bery and Batchelder committees.

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