Jerusalem Working Group
for Recognition of Major Jewish Rescuers during the Shoah
POB 23718 Jerusalem 91236
Louise von Dardel - Raoull Wallenberg's niece
Presented at International Rescuer Day 2007 - Jerusalem, Israel
My uncle Raoul Wallenberg studied architecture in America. In 1944 he was a 32 year old businessman and was part of high society in neutral and peaceful Sweden.
One day, he got the offer from the War Refugee Board to go on the mission to save Jews from the grasp of Eichmann, in Budapest. It took only a few days for him to decide to accept this dangerous and enormously challenging mission and to go.
This would not have been possible ..
if Wetzler and Vrba, prisoners in Auschwitz, had not managed
to escape in order to report details of the murdering machine
if courageous people in Bratislava, especially Rabbi
Weissmandl, had not written a report giving out the facts to governments and
If George Mantello in Geneva had not immediately assured
publishing details in the international press about the death camps
If in spite of intense opposition Hillel Kook in America did
not lobby for political will to help save the Jews, and
if the War Refugee Board would not have been set up.
Furthermore, the Wallenberg mission could not have succeeded Ö
If the American Jewish community had not gathered the
If the Swedish King had not agreed to give Raoul a
diplomatic passport, and
If the Swedish government did not agree to give my uncle a free hand and a base of operation at the Budapest Swedish Embassy.
If even one of the above didnít happen then many lives could not have been saved.
My uncle could not have achieved the impossible if he was not deeply touched by the great tragedy, if he didnít in his heart know what was the right thing to do, and if he didnít accept the risk of that mission.
He succeeded because of his imagination, his courage, his sense of harmony and compassion, his sense of humor, his organizational and negotiating skills, his self-empowerment and almost limitless energy. Thus enabled him to save tens of thousands people from the Nazis and Hungarian Fascists. Beside the above motivations and qualities he had no experience what so ever for such a special and exceptional mission.
In Budapest, he set up a large organization, and employed about 400 Jews who participated in rescue of other Jews. Various skills were needed, and each person took on different functions according to what they thought they could do.
My uncle joined his efforts with that of like minded diplomats from other countries in order to increase the efficiency of their common mission: to save lives, to make life bearable and to take actions so the future of the Jewish community would be ensured.
At the end of the war, when Budapest was liberated, Raoul was abducted by the Russians on January 17th, 1945 never to be seen again. After having saved so many lives, what did the world do to rescue him?
There is a lot to learn from beacons in the dark like my uncle who saved many people and ensured the possibility of life for future generations. The rescuers were role models for each other, inspiring one another and putting rescue in the air. By their example they showed the power of collaborating individuals working toward a common goal. They are authentic role models for us today as well as for future generations.
The question today is how do we recognize them, support them, learn from them, and when necessary act like them?
Since the second World War there were many tragedies, genocides and so much suffering. Where were the rescuers then? If there were any, then why donít we know anything about them?
As in my uncleís time rescue of todayís and future generations is necessary. What is required is individuals with bold imagination, daring, commitment, pure and caring hearts as well as the willingness to act together to assure a better tomorrow.