Defiance

Image of the defiance panel in the exhibition

The third theme outlines actions that made a difference to victims. The brutal implementation of Nazi policies was meant to subdue local populations and force them into compliance. However, they were often met with resistance from people who believed that what was happening was wrong. A resistance network developed across the continent. At great personal risk members devised countless ways to save lives.

In this section the desperate need of the victim is linked with the courageous acts of the rescuer. We see the extraordinary results of the actions of individuals and groups who refused to remain passive bystanders.

Visitors are invited to question themselves, “would I have remained a bystander, or would I have taken action?”

Exhibition Panel: Raoul Wallenberg

 

Raoul Wallenberg was a man determined to save Hungarian Jews. In 1944, the young Swedish diplomat was sent to Budapest by the American War Refugee Board to achieve this end. Immediately he set about his mission, using two techniques. First, he designed impressive passports, decorated with the official seal of Sweden, stating that the bearer was under Swedish government protection. Next, he rented buildings to house people holding his passports, claiming that those living in these ‘Swedish Houses’ had diplomatic immunity. He established 32 ‘Swedish Houses’ in Budapest and issued thousands passports.

Wallenberg disappeared into Soviet custody in 1945. His fate remains unknown but it is believed that he died in a Soviet prison in 1947. The exact number of people Wallenberg saved is not known – it is estimated that the number could be as high as 100,000. His courage, brilliance and daring in saving many Jewish people during the Holocaust have ensured his eminent status as ‘Righteous Among the Nations’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Schutzpass issued
by Rould Wallenberg,
Budapest 1944