In an era when so many were complicit or afraid, Raoul Wallenberg stood out as a man determined to save lived and dedicated to peace. He is known as one of the great humanitarians of the time, and of its history itself. Background Born to a well-known Swedish family, Raoul Wallenberg had a normal, if privileged life, prior to the war. He studied architecture but wound up travelling the world in the late 1930’s while working for his family. It was on these travels that he first heard stories about Jewish persecution. Those stories deeply affected him. Eventually he became partners with a man named Koloman Lauer, a Jew from Hungary who could not conduct his business throughout Europe due to the expanding Holocaust. Representative of Peace As the world began to realize what the Final Solution truly entailed, the Allies scrambled for a way to rescue people within the German-controlled areas. Sweden had already convinced the Germans to allow those possessing the Swedish protective passports to be considered Swedish citizens, exempt from the rules requiring Jewish people to wear the yellow Star of David. This helped save some people, but not enough. The Allies needed a more aggressive approach. The recruited Raoul Wallenberg arrived in Budapest, charged with saving whoever he could. To accomplish this, he employed somewhat unexpected, provoking techniques. He would bribe officials, lie, etc. Though many were initially uncomfortable with his methods, the results they produced were undeniable. He designed the protective passports to be deliberately flashy, so that the Germans would respect them; he set up safe houses under the guise of Swedish establishments (such as the Swedish Library). As war near its end, he got even more bold and aggressive, jumping atop trains bound for death camps and slipping the passports through the cracks and open doors, before demanding that those possessing the passports be allowed off the train (they were). It is estimated that he saved tens of thousands of lives and that without his efforts the entire Jewish population of Budapest would have been executed. Disappearance Ironically, it was the end of the war that doomed Wallenberg. As the Soviet Union moved through Hungary, he was taken into custody and never released again. Many claim to have seen him in a Russian prison near Moscow, though it is suggested that he died several years later, executed for having been an American spy. There is still much controversy and mystery surrounding the end of his life. Legacy Despite his early death, Raoul Wallenberg has been honoured repeatedly for his work. He is frequently cited as one of the great humanitarians. He has been made an honorary citizen of numerous countries, including the United States and Israel. Many organizations, touting messages of peace and hope, have taken on his name.