Raoul Wal­len­berg: Res­cu­ing Thou­sands from the Nazis’ Grasp

Debra McArthur
  • Review
By – August 6, 2012
Raoul Wal­len­berg was hard­ly what one would think of as being a hero­ic type, yet he is cred­it­ed with res­cu­ing 100,000 Jews. In a way, he was a man of mys­tery. Under whose employ did he work — the Swedish gov­ern­ment or, clan­des­tine­ly, was the Unit­ed States involved? And how did he, a meek, rather indis­crim­i­nate non-achiev­er, adopt such a brava­do per­sona that he cowed the Arrow Cross, Ger­man sol­diers, and even the SS with his com­mand­ing pres­ence and orders to them? He became bold and inven­tive in his plans to save Jews. He dressed young staffers in Arrow Cross Uni­forms, he cre­at­ed his safe pass­es, the Schutz pass­es, for res­cued Jews who lived in the apart­ment hous­es he deemed to be Swedish sov­er­eign ter­ri­to­ry, but his most use­ful con­nec­tion was with Pal Sza­lai, a Hun­gar­i­an police offi­cer whose job it was to coor­di­nate the Hun­gar­i­an police with the Arrow Cross. Wal­len­berg was also helped by the Red Cross. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, he did not arrive in Hun­gary ear­ly enough to save 400,000 Hun­gar­i­an Jews from depor­ta­tion to the death camps and in the end, the Arrow Cross went on a ram­page, and no piece of paper or per­son could save a Jew. What the Nazis could not accom­plish, the Rus­sians did. Wal­len­berg was tak­en into cus­tody by the Russ­ian lib­er­a­tors, and no one and no coun­try was able to res­cue him. This is a wor­thy addi­tion to the lit­er­a­ture of Holo­caust Heroes. In addi­tion to a time­line, there are chap­ter notes (in which all sources used are not­ed by chap­ter), a glos­sary, fur­ther read­ing and web sites, and an index. For ages 11 – 15.
Mar­cia W. Pos­ner, Ph.D., of the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al and Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau Coun­ty, is the library and pro­gram direc­tor. An author and play­wright her­self, she loves review­ing for JBW and read­ing all the oth­er reviews and arti­cles in this mar­velous periodical.

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