Monday, August 02, 2010


The slightly balding fellow above is one Raoul Wallenberg, and today isn't is birthday either. He was actually born August 4th, 1912 near Stockholm, Sweden. But, I took a gander at the 4th, and it seemed that I had one hero too many, so I decided to advance M. Wallenberg a couple of days in time. I don't think he would mind too terribly much.
He was born the son of a diplomat, and it was as a diplomat that he would make his name, and get himself counted amongst our heroes. He was shipped off to American to study to be an architect, and learned to speak quite a few languages while he was at school. After bouncing around a bit, he was hired by an Hungarian Jew who ran an import-export business. He learned Hungarian while working in Budapest, and it was in Hungary that he was to perform the acts that make him our hero of the day.
He was posted to the Swedish legation in Budapest, and in that capacity began to issue "protective passports" which identified the bearers as Swedish citizens. These passports had no legal basis, but were accepted as genuine by the German and Hungarian authorities. He also rented 3o some odd buildings, and had them declared such things as "the Swedish Library" or "the Swedish Research Institute." These buildings were extra-territorial, and eventually housed nearly 10,000 people. People who might have been shipped off to the camps to die without this type of subterfuge.
Sadly for Wallenberg it was the Red Army that "liberated" Budapest, and they arrested him on suspicion of being an American spy. He was shipped (eventually) to Moscow, and was supposedly executed in 1947, but the mystery surrounding his death swirls to this day. There were several reported sightings of him after 1947, and I am pretty sure no one either knows or is telling exactly when he died or how. But, for saving tens of thousands of people from the murdering Nazis at the cost of his own life, Raoul Wallenberg (August 4th, 1912-???) you are my (351st) hero of the day.

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