Friday, March 21, 2008

Raoul Wallenberg

Most of the information I deal with at work is things that I either already know, or don’t much care about (it’s hard to be enthused by the major exports of South American countries), but every now and then I find myself editing something that I find genuinely interesting.

Take for example, the story of Raoul Wallenberg. I’ll give you a quick summary here, although I recommend you read the full article at some point.

His early life is fairly unremarkable; he was born into a very rich family, gifted with languages, and was, by all accounts, very charming and likeable. His life becomes interesting in 1944 when, at the age of 32, he was sent to Hungary to co-ordinate the diplomatic efforts to save as much of the country’s Jewish population from the death camps. He is partly responsible for saving the lives of thousands of people, through cleverly exploiting the fact that pretty much the entire Nazi military establishment was, by this point, either bent, disillusioned, or terrified of what was going to happen when what they’d done caught up with them. He tricked and conned, bribed and threatened, and, sometimes, just waved enough official-looking paper around to spread confusion.

He was, in some small and completely non-violent way, a hero.

However, as is often the way with the real world, and probably the reason why no-one has made a blockbuster film about him, he never lived to see his achievements recognised. In January 1945 he left Budapest to meet some Russian Army officers, and was never seen again.

No-one really knows what happened to him, but the most likely explanation is probably that he was falsely accused of espionage, and executed in prison by the KGB in 1947.


Sorry about the rather second rather genocide-fixated post, it's just the way my work's been leaning recently.