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Raoul Wallenberg

USPS Wallenberg Stamp, 1997

Raoul Wallenberg (August 4, 1912 - [date of death uncertain]) was a Swedish diplomat. He used his diplomatic status to save many Hungarian Jews during the later stages of World War II, by issuing temporary Swedish passports and claiming the bearers as Swedish citizens. He also skillfully negotiated with Nazi officials such as Adolf Eichmann for the cancellation of deportations by playing on their fear of the consequences of having perpetrated war crimes. He is thought to have saved the lives of between 20,000 and 100,000 Jews.

Wallenberg was arrested by the Red Army on January 7, 1945, probably on suspicion of being a spy for the United States. What happened to him since is not known - the official Russian version is that he died in captivity on July 17, 1947, but a number of testimonies have placed him alive in Siberian or Russian prisons as late as the 1960s.

Raoul Wallenberg was made an Honorary Citizen of the United States in 1981. The bill was sponsored by Representative Tom Lantos, a Hungarian Jew who as a teenager sought refuge in one of Wallenberg's safe houses. He was later made an honorary citizen of Canada in 1985, and of Israel in 1986.

He was honored by Israel's Yad Vashem memorial as one of the "Righteous Among the Nations", recognizing those non-Jews who helped save Jews from the Holocaust.

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Last updated: 11-10-2004 23:53:55