Budapest Vacation Service...Budapest Ghetto - Foreign Diplomats
During the dark days of 1944 and 1945, there were many people who were willing to risk their lives to save the victims of the Nazi terror in Budapest. This page is dedicated to some of those heroes, who between them helped to save the lives of tens of thousands of Budapest's Jewish population.
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Raoul Wallenberg (1912-1947?) is the most well-known of all the diplomats who made it their task to save the Jews of Hungary. Wallenberg arrived in Budapest in
July 1944, by which time about 440,000 men, women and children had been deported to Auschwitz, about 330,000 of whom were gassed immediately after their arrival.
Wallenberg was given the position of First Secretary of the Swedish Legation in Hungary, with the full authority of the Swedish government, to issue 'protective passports'.
In addition to distributing passports, Wallenberg was responsible for establishing more that 30 safe houses in the Budapest 13th. district as well as hospitals, nurseries and a soup kitchen.
The first death marches from Budapest towards Austria started in November 1944. Many thousands of Jews had to march for almost 200 km, without food or water. Raoul Wallenberg stayed with them, distributing protective passports and handing out food and medicines and eventually managed to secure the release of those who were in possession of protective passports. Deportations by train to Poland continued and Wallenberg was seen to run along the tops of the freight cars full of people, handing out protective passports and then demanding and securing the release of those in possession of the protective passports.
In January 1945, Wallenberg learned of a German plan to 'liquidate' (murder) the remaining Jews in the Budapest ghetto. Wallenberg sent a note to General August Schmidthuber, commander of the German forces in Hungary, stating that should massacre take place, he would be held personally responsible and would be tried and executed as a war criminal after the end of the war. The planned liquidation was canceled and two days later, Budapest was liberated by Soviet forces.
The last time Raoul Wallenberg was seen in Budapest was on January 17,
1945 when he was on his way to Debrecen in a Soviet convoy with his driver Vilmos Langfelder. In 1957 the Soviet Union declared that Raoul Wallenberg had died from a heart attack in Lublianka prison in Moscow, however various witnesses have claimed to have seen Wallenberg alive up until 1953. His disappearance and eventual cause of death is still shrouded in mystery.There are several monuments to Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest, including a statue in Szent Istvan Park, a wall plaque on the corner of Raoul Wallenberg utca and Pozsonyi utca, both in the 13th. district, the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park in the grounds of the Budapest Great Synagogue in Dohany utca, a statue in Szilagyi Erzsebet fasor, in the 2nd district on the Buda side of the city and a wall plaque at Budapest Jozsefvaros railway station, from where the deportations started.
Raoul Wallenberg was responsible for saving at least 100,000 lives and accordingly was recognized by Yad Vashem and awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel in 1963.
See photos and read the transcript of speeches made at the unveiling of the wall plaque at the British Embassy in Budapest here.
Carl Lutz (1895 - 1975)
In his function as Swiss Vice-Consul during his time in Budapest, Carl Lutz was responsible for saving tens of thousands of Jews from deportation or death, by issuing and distributing protective passes (Schutzpass), which made it possible for thousands of Jews to emigrate to Palestine and setting up more than 70 safe houses, including the legendary Glass House (Üvegház), which offered protection and shelter to many thousands of Jews between 1944 and the liberation of Budapest in January 1945.
Carl Lutz was granted permission issue 8,000 protective passes following successful negotiations with the Nazis, after which he set about duplicating the numbers on these passes to enable him to issue several thousand more. Eventually there were tens of thousands of protective passes issued bearing duplicate numbers.
During his time in Budapest, Carl Lutz was supported in this work by his wife Trudi.
In addition to the Glass House Memorial Room, there are monuments to Carl Lutz in Budapest located just opposite the US Embassy in Szabadsag ter (Freedom Square) and also in Dob utca, close to the Great Synagogue.
Carl Lutz was responsible for saving at tens of thousands of lives and accordingly was recognized by Yad Vashem and awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel in 1964.
Heroes of the Hungarian Holocaust - Diplomats
This page is dedicated to the members of the foreign diplomatic services of neutral countries who risked their lives to save the lives of others. Between them they were responsible for saving tens of thousands of Budapest's Jews from deportation to Nazi extermination camps or death by the Hungarian Arrow Cross.
This page will be updated with more information on other heroes including:
Friedrich Born, Per Anger, Dr. Valdemar Langlet, Carlos de Liz-Texeira Branquinho, Coronel José Arturo Castellanos, Kalman Ferenczfalvi, Pal Szalai, Katalin Karady and others..............
Please check back frequently
Carl Lutz monument in Szabadsag ter. Click to enlarge
Carl Lutz monument in Dob utca - (above and left)
Click images to enlarge
Wallenberg Statue in Budapest 13th. District, Szent Istvan Park
Wallenberg wall plaque on Raoul Wallenberg utca, Budapest 13th. District. Click image to enlarge
Giorgio Perlasca (1910 - 1992)
Giorgio Perlasca's function in Budapest was the procurement
of supplies for the Italian military. Following the Italian surrender and the Nazi occupation of Hungary in 1944, he was obliged to leave Hungary. He decided to stay on however and sought refuge in the Spanish Embassy under the assumed name Jorge Perlasca.
He, along with the Spanish Chargé d'Affaires, Ángel Sanz Briz, set about producing and distributing 'protection documents', issued under a Spanish law that automatically granted Spanish citizenship to Sephardic (Spanish and Portuguese origin) Jews, and setting up protected houses, known as 'yellow star houses', to provide safe asylum to Budapest Jews in general.
In November 1944, when Sanz Briz had to leave Hungary to work in Switzerland, Perlasca decided to remain in Hungary. Following the departure of Sanz Briz, the Hungarian authorities attempted to close the Spanish Embassy building and clear the protected houses, however Perlasca managed to prevent this by fabricating a story that Sanz Briz would be returning to Budapest and that in his absence, he is the responsible person on behalf of the Spanish Embassy.
During December 1944 and until the liberation in mid-January 1945, Giorgio Perlasca was responsible for saving the lives of thousands of Jews in Budapest.
Following his return to Italy at the end of the war, Perlasca remained silent about his activities, not even mentioning it to his own family. It was in 1987 that his remarkable achievements finally came to light. Giorgio Perlasca was responsible for saving c.5,000 lives and accordingly was recognized by Yad Vashem and awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.
Watch this interesting 3-part Italian documentary, with English subtitles, which includes scenes from the movie 'Perlasca, an Italian Hero' and an interview with Giorgio Perlasca, filmed before his death in 1992.
Giorgio Perlasca (1910-1992)
Wall Plaque dedicated to Giorgio Perlasca on one of his former protected houses at the north end of Szent Istvan Park in Budapest 13th. District
Wall plaque at Jozsefvaros Station, Budapest
Click to enlarge.
Angel Sanz Briz (1910 - 1980)
Angel Sanz Briz, Spanish diplomat under the government of the Spanish fascist leader General Francisco Franco, arrived in Budapest in 1942 and took up his post as Chargé d'Affaires of Spain to Hungary.
Upon seeing the terrible situation and conditions for the Hungarian Jews in Budapest, Sanz Briz decided to use his diplomatic privileges to help, relieve the suffering, prevent deportations and ultimately to save lives. To achieve this, he worked with Raoul Wallenberg, Papal Nuncio Angelo Rotta, Swiss Consul Carl Lutz and several other diplomats were making similar efforts as representatives of their neutral governments.
In January 1945 as the Soviet forces drew closer to Budapest, Sanz Briz was instructed to leave Budapest and relocate to Switzerland. When he eventually left, Giorgio Perlasca, took his place and continued to issue fake documents from the Spanish Embassy.
During his time in Budapest, Angel Sanz Briz was responsible for setting up several safe
houses, which were under the official protection of Spain.
In January 1945 however the neutrality of these houses was violated by
Arrow Cross militia, the occupants were forced out and executed at the
banks of the River Danube.
Sanz Briz issued many thousands of protection letters to the Jews of Budapest, claiming that, under Spanish law, the bearers of these letters, supposedly of Sephardic (Spanish Jewish) descent, were recognized as having Spanish nationality. In actual fact, only a small number of the 5200 Jews saved by Sanz Briz were actually of Spanish origin.
In 1991 Angel Sanz Briz was officially recognized Yad Vashem, Israel, and was declared Righteous Among the Nations. In 1994 the Hungarian government awarded him the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary in recognition of his work in Budapest.
Wall Plaque dedicated to Angel Sanz Briz on one of his former protected houses at the north end of Szent Istvan Park in Budapest 13th. District. Click image to enlarge.
Protection letter issued and signed by Angel Sanz Briz. Click image to enlarge
Angel Sanz Briz
Wall plaque dedicated to Vilmos Langfelder, Wallenberg's driver at 38 Andrassy ut, where he lived. Click image to enlarge.
Raoul Wallenberg, (with hands behind back) negotiating the rescue of deportees at Jozsefvaros station.
Click image to enlarge.
See slide show of Jozsefvaros station today.
Wall plaque at the British Embassy Budapest. Formerly the Swedish Bank building from where Raoul Wallenberg operated and was hidden in 1945.
Click image to enlarge.
Giorgio Perlasca bust in Budapest