When you talk about the Holocaust, many names will come to mind. Such as Hitler, Anne Frank, Oskar Schindler, and Adolf Eichmann, but most people probably haven’t heard of someone named Raoul Wallenberg. And yet, we should all know his name as well.
Raoul grew up in Sweden with a loving mother who was widowed just before Raoul was born. For many years after, his grandfather on his father‘s side was a major influence on him – sending him around the world to learn languages as well as people. When it was time for college, Raoul came to the United States and earned a degree in architecture from the University of Michigan.
After that, he traveled around the world more, and landed in South Africa. Later, he made his way back home to Sweden, just as the world was about to explode with World War II. Things became difficult in Sweden even though they were a neutral country during the war. Food became scarce and work was difficult to find at times as well. Still Raoul made friends wherever he went, which was why late in the war, his name came up for a special mission.
Hungary had been able to protect their Jewish population for the most part during the war, however, toward the end, the general who had been keeping them out of the Nazis line of fire, was replaced and lost a lot of his power. As a result, thousands and thousands of Hungarian Jews were to be relocated to concentration camps, or simply killed before even leaving Hungary. Many organizations in the world by this time realized something horrible was happening with Jews in Europe. Sweden wanted to help save Jews by claiming them as Swedish citizens, or having some ties to Sweden. However, they needed someone to go who could navigate through all the craziness that was happening there to try to save them. Raoul Wallenberg’s name came up.
Raoul agreed to go on this mission because he was driven by a deep belief that he wanted to do something good in the world. Now seemed his chance, but the odds were stacked against him. Would he be able to actually help stop the killings of the Jewish people, long enough for the war to end?
His Name was Raoul Wallenberg by Louise Borden is a really quick read about a very important person during WWII. It is set up like a novel in verse which makes for an accessible nonfiction work as well as lots of photographs and primary source pieces of documentation.
Highly recommended for grades 6th and up.