Raoul Wallenberg (August 4, 1912 – [date of death uncertain]) was a Swedish diplomat and a member of the influential Swedish Wallenberg family. As a Legation Counsellor in Budapest, he used his diplomatic status to save many Hungarian Jews during the later stages of World War II, by issuing temporary Swedish "protective passports" and claiming the bearers as Swedish subjects awaiting repatriation. 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 and as such is generally considered one of the most notable heroes who directly fought against The Holocaust.
His tactic was mainly to buy houses, put Jewish refugees in them and provide them with a "protection passport" (German: Schutz-Pass). The buildings were bought with embassy capital. The "protective passports" were legally speaking invalid, but Wallenberg had noticed that German and Hungarian fascist authorities were obsessed with official-looking papers and thus believed that such papers would actually protect their holders. In many cases this tactic worked. Wallenberg also housed numerous refugees at the Swedish Embassy in Budapest.
Wallenberg was arrested by the Red Army on January 17, 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. Wallenberg was no stranger to the United States, as he had earned his bachelor's degree in architecture from the University of Michigan in 1935.
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.