A scarce 1944 document signed by Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews at the close of WW2, was sold for $13,310 last Thursday, by the Nate D. Sanders Auction House in Los Angeles.
After the publication of a 1944 report detailing the mass deportation of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz, Wallenberg, a Swedish citizen fluent in Hungarian, issued fake “protective” passports claiming Jewish persons were actually Swedish citizens awaiting repatriation, with the full protection of such citizenship. While serving as Sweden’s special envoy in Budapest between July and December 1944, he is believed to have saved 15,000 Jews.
The auctioned document, on a “Royal Swedish Embassy / Budapest” letterhead, is datelined Budapest, September 22, 1944. It confirms that the recipient has been awarded Swedish citizenship and respectfully asks that he be granted “immunity against the discriminatory [yellow star] mark.”
On 17 January 1945, during the Siege of Budapest by the Red Army, Wallenberg was detained by SMERSH on suspicion of espionage and subsequently disappeared. He was later reported to have died on July 17 1947 while imprisoned by the KGB secret police in the Lubyanka prison in Moscow. The motives behind Wallenberg’s arrest and imprisonment by the Soviet government, along with questions surrounding the circumstances of his death and his possible ties to US intelligence, remain mysterious and are the subject of continued speculation.
Raoul Wallenberg has been the subject of numerous humanitarian honors in the decades following his presumed death. In 1981, U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos, himself one of those saved by Wallenberg, sponsored a bill making Wallenberg an Honorary Citizen of the United States. He was the second person ever to receive this honor, after Winston Churchill. Wallenberg is also an honorary citizen of Canada, Hungary, Australia and Israel.
Israel has also designated Wallenberg as one of the Righteous Among the Nations.