Raoul Wallenberg


In the autumn of 1943 my parents and my brother Tomy escaped from Slovakia into Hungary. My parents were put into an internment camp while Tomy, aged 14, was allowed to stay with our aunt. In June 1944 as my parents were being transported to Auschwitz, Tomy saw them being taken away. Father shouted, ‘Go to the Swiss or the Swedish embassy’. Tomy headed for the Swedish Embassy where they took him in, gave him a place to sleep (at the bottom of the lift shaft) and food to eat. He did odd jobs around the embassy.

A month later Tomy went with a driver to pick up Raoul Wallenberg. They rented a villa nearby for him. Tomy often accompanied Wallenberg into town. Each evening Tomy went to the post office and sent coded messages back to Sweden.

After a time the Swedish Embassy began issuing ‘safe passes’ which could safeguard Jews from persecution. Officially a condition for issue of these passes was a relation living in Sweden. For people who had no such relations Tomy had telephone books of Stockholm and other Swedish towns from which people could find ‘a relative’. Tomy and others spent day and night producing these passes. People with these passes were put in houses flying the Swedish flag.

At the beginning of November the Swedish embassy was evacuated; Wallenberg stayed behind and was now living with a Hungarian family near the castle.
When the Russians liberated Budapest, Wallenberg was arrested by Soviet officials. On 26th February, 1945 a Russian staff car drew up in front of the Swedish Embassy building with high ranking Russian officers and behind them Wallenberg in his usual long coat and wide hat. Tomy approached them; Wallenberg noticed him, motioned behind his back for him to go away and said: ‘Schlecht – verschwinde’.

Nobody saw Wallenberg after that.

Tomy was one of the thousands saved by Wallenberg.

This entry was submitted by Iby Knill. The Wiener Library’s temporary exhibition ‘Rescues of the Holocaust: Remembering Raoul Wallenberg and Lives Saved’ ran from 4 October 2012 to 15 February 2013.