The first complete biography of Raoul Wallenberg tells the story of the man who rescued some ten thousand Hungarian Jews in Budapest during the last months of the Second World War, and who then disappeared after being arrested by the Red Army. Wallenberg has become a symbol for the individual resistance and struggle against the machinery of the Nazi’s final solution, and in 1981 he was made an Honorary Citizen of the United States, the second person to be so after Winston Churchill.
Raoul Wallenberg’s life began dramatically: his father died before he was born, a fact that had an enormous impact on him, and on his position within the Wallenberg family, the most influential banking dynasty in Sweden.
In the spring of 1944 He was asked to go to Budapest with the explicit mission to save Hungarian Jews. His many business connections in the city made him the perfect choice.
In Budapest he invented and distributed so called protection passports (Schutzpass) among Hungarian Jews with some kind of real or invented connection to Sweden. Many thousands of these passes were produced, and through this action around 7000 Jews were saved directly, through his other activities many thousands more.
When Budapest was liberated by the Red Army in January 1945, RW was arrested and taken to Moscow. There have been many theories about RW’s fate in the Soviet Union, some claiming that he may have been alive as late as in the 1970’s or 1980’s. The author assumes that he died in July 1947, but not as a result of cardiac arrest (the official Soviet explanation). Instead, he fell victim to the practices of the famous poison laboratory of professor Mayranovsky and was probably killed by an injection of curare.
The biography is profusely illustrated with photos of RW from his family’s archive, most of them never published before, with RW’s architectural drawings and pastels, and with documents. Bengt Jangfeldt’s unique access to the Wallenberg archive, to Russian documents in the original language and to necessary Hungarian sources through commissioned translations makes Born to Succeed the ultimate biography of one of the great heroes of the Holocaust.
The book will be published in connection with the 100th anniversary of Raoul Wallenberg’s birth (August 4, 2012) which will be celebrated world-wide.