Interest-driven vs humanitarian, filth vs courage, death vs life, tears, tears and tears – gratitude, in the building of the Swedish and later the British Embassy
The building today is home to the Embassy of Great Britain. On its wall there is a memorial plaque commemorating the fact that Raoul Wallenberg and his helpers were hiding in this building during World War 2.
The building was originally designed for the purposes of a bank’s main office (Hazai Bank Rt.) in 1912 by Károly Rainer, in art nouveau – early modern style. From 1944 the situation of the Jews was steadily getting worse and worse. In November the bank rented the 3rd floor of the building to the Royal Swedish Embassy. Wallenberg visited the place frequently and gave refuge to numerous people in the building, which enjoyed protected status.
Wallenberg as embassy secretary was commissioned to support the saving of prosecuted Jews. He was chosen for the task by the American intelligence service and the American Committee of War Refugees, following the proposition of Sven Salen, a rich shipping entrepreneur. The choice was mainly motivated by personal and organisational interests. Wallenberg probably used the Swiss model when issuing Swedish entrance visas that were automatically family visas, which Hungarian authorities ‘accepted’ as such.
“We had an agreement with Szálasi’s government that granted their acceptance of 5000 passports, but we exceeded this number.”
He used his growing influence mainly to save and cater for protected Swedish Jews. He requested permits from the Ministry of Exterior for his actions and was granted police support.
Using Swedish passports Wallenberg saved about 30 thousand people from deportation and certain death. He was doing his work in constant mortal danger until finally in mid-January 1945 he was captured by the Red Army and vanished without trace on his way to Debrecen.
The first official explanation said he was murdered by Arrow Cross or Gestapo agents. In 1953 Károly Szabó, Swedish Embassy employee, Lajos Stöckler, head of the Jewish congregation and others were put to trial with the absurd accusation that they played a part in Wallenberg’s murder. After they regained their freedom, they died of the tortures they had suffered – some of them had lost their sanity. In 1957 Moscow announced that Wallenberg had died in 1947 in the Lyubyanka Prison.
Question: What do you think you could do for peace today?
Recreation spots: Erzsébet square park and cafés nearby