This is the name which makes everyone who is not a Nazi hush his voice.
Wallenberg was born in 1912 to a old and rich family in Sweden. After doing his compulsory military service, he went to school in Paris and at the University of Michigan. The most notable event in his early life was the time he spent Walking the Earth in America. Following this, he got a series of jobs as representative of the Family Business. This dropped him in Budapest in the most inconvenient time possible — World War II. During this time he was made chairman of the local War Refugee Board, a committee with the patronage of several nations, including the United States (which was apparently using it to launder money for the funding of OSS operations, a fact which would be to Wallenberg's misfortune), and Sweden, which made Wallenberg an official part of the local diplomatic staff (a fact which he would find useful).
Upon the attempted defection of Hungary to the Allies, the Germans invaded and conquered the whole country. With the Germans came Adolf Eichmann, one of the chief bureaucrats of the death camps. Eichmann began rounding Jews up to be sent off to their doom. Whereupon, in stepped Wallenberg. Wallenberg rented 32 buildings in the name of the Swedish Legation. With the help of others, he managed to give as many Jews as possible protective passports, the majority of which he had no actual authority to give. When the Nazis protested, he shooed them away by a mixture of bribes and threats (yes, really!) of a neutral nation's disfavor. The number of lives he saved can not be determined — estimates vary from a little over 10,000 to over 100,000.
Unfortunately, his was not one of them. When the Soviet Union conquered Budapest, they arrested Wallenberg as a spy for the United States (even though the US was an Enemy Mine at the time anyway; it's complicated). Thereupon Wallenberg disappeared into the gulag. In 1957, Soviet authorities claimed that he died in prison of heart failure in 1947. However, many remained unconvinced and searched for him, including Simon Wiesenthal, and Wallenberg's half-brother, Professor Guy von Dardel. Though several claimed to have seen him, including former KGB spymasters, the exact story of his final fate is unsure. Whatever it is, it was unpleasant.
One theory is that GPU knew well what and who Wallenberg was, and kidnapped him in order to blackmail Sweden after the war. They assumed they would trade Wallenberg on ex-Soviet refugees who had fled in Sweden during the war. As Sweden would not negotiate, Wallenberg was executed.
Wallenberg's name appears on monuments all around the world, including Israel, where he is praised as a Righteous Gentile by the people he died to save. In 1981, he was also granted the special honor of being an honorary citizen of the United States. He is currently the second of seven people granted this honor; only Winston Churchill received it before him. The Representative who pushed this through Congress, Tom Lantos, was one of the Jews saved by him. Wallenberg is also an honorary Canadian citizen (as of 2016, only five other people have received this honor) and has been featured on a Canadian commemorative stamp.
- Arch-Enemy: Eichmann. Also GPU may qualify.
- Badass Bureaucrat: He practically made red tape into a new martial arts technique.
- Beware the Nice Ones: This quiet unnoticeable rich kid could scare Nazis!
- Biopic: Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg, starring Stellan Skarsgård and Wallenberg: A Hero's Story starring Richard Chamberlain.
- Diplomatic Impunity: Used for good.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Played with by the KGB. It is not quite sure that he was not an OSS contact, and his organization did have some curious aspects to it. Besides, who would go to so much trouble just to save the lives of Jews?
- Heroic Sacrifice
- Jumped at the Call
- I Will Find You: Several of his admirers, including Wiesenthal and his half-brother.
- Magnetic Hero: Although he is the best remembered, he was hardly the only Rescuer working in Budapest at the time; there were a number, both Jews and Gentiles. But he was a great inspiration.
- Never Found the Body
- Non-Idle Rich
- Princely Young Man
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!