Raoul Wallenberg: Righteous Among the Nations

Raoul Wallenberg: Righteous Among the NationsRaoul Wallenberg was born into a well-to-do Swedish family in Stockholm in 1912. He studied architecture at the University of Michigan, where he graduated with honors in 1935. Of the many honors this brave Swede earned over the years, the greatest were, perhaps, being officially named as one of the Righteous among the Nations in 1963, being awarded honorary Israeli citizenship in 1987 and honorary American citizenship in 2008.

Among the tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews that Wallenberg is credited with rescuing was a young boy named Tom Lantos, who eventually became a U.S. congressman. It was he who sponsored Wallenberg’s honorary U.S. citizenship. He wrote, “During the Nazi occupation, this heroic, young diplomat left behind the comfort and safety of Stockholm to rescue his fellow human beings in the hell that was wartime Budapest. He had little in common with them. He was a Lutheran; they were Jewish. He was a Swede; they were Hungarians. And yet, with inspired courage and creativity, he saved the lives of tens of thousands of men, women and children by placing them under the protection of the Swedish crown.”

After having spent several years working in South Africa and in Haifa, he returned to Sweden where his business travels took him throughout Nazi-occupied Europe, including France, Germany and Hungary. During those trips, he became aware of the cruel treatment of the Jews under the Nazi regime. In June 1944 he was inserted into the growing crisis in Hungary, ostensibly as the leader of the Swedish legation there, but with a directive to help rescue Jews whose extermination was being planned by Adolph Eichmann. By the time he arrived, nearly half of the Hungarian Jewish population had already been transported to concentration camps.

Despite an original plan to extract as many as 700 Jews by use of diplomatic passes, and moving with a passion that far outweighed that of Eichmann, Wallenberg managed to rescue 120,000 Jews, more than half the remaining population, from Eichmann’s dastardly plans. Before he left Sweden, he had appealed to the highest levels of the Swedish parliament and to the monarchy to gain permission to have a free hand to take whatever actions he saw fit, without the encumbrance of bureaucratic interference. That permission was granted, and he took full advantage of it.

Raoul Wallenberg was far more than a paper-pusher. He personally intervened on behalf of the Jewish people and directly interfered with Eichmann’s plan. He hired hundreds of “employees” and hid hundreds more in “Swedish libraries.” He built houses, outside of which were hung Swedish flags, and which he declared to be Swedish territory in which hundreds more were hidden.

His heroism and his cause were publically evident when he would run atop already loaded railcars, stuffing diplomatic passes that exempted the bearers from being relocated. He would then demand that the soldiers open the doors and release into his custody any who had a pass in their possession. It is said that, when the German soldiers were ordered to shoot him as he ran across the cars, they deliberately aimed high in admiration for his courage.

In January 1945, Wallenberg was escorted by the Russian military to an unknown destination. Before he left, he told an associate that he was unsure whether he was going as a guest or as a prisoner. He was never heard from again.

We may never know the rest of the story, but we do know this, that “there is no greater love than a man who would lay down his life for his friends.” Be it known, by the compassion and actions of Raoul Wallenberg and thousands like him, then and today, that there are many righteous among the nations who are friends to the Jews.

The Friends of Zion Heritage Center

The Friends of Zion Heritage Center“I don’t believe that the Jewish State or modern Zionism would have been possible without Christian Zionism.”
—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

“One of the greatest needs of our day is for Jewish people simply to see that they are loved by Christians.”
—Dr. Mike Evans

“I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” —YHWH

For thousands of years the Jewish people have suffered at the hands of much of the rest of the world, often being forced to dwell as unwanted sojourners in foreign lands, being blamed for every problem imaginable, from causing the plague to being too successful or influential. But the promise of YHWH to Abraham has never changed. And, although it may not have seemed so at times, there has always been a core of people who have demonstrated their love for God’s chosen people. These people are best described as Bible-believers, for that is the very reason that makes them love the Jewish people. They believe what the Bible says about them.

The common identifier for Jews and Christians is that they love the Lord God with all their heart, all their soul, and all their strength. Unfortunately, there are many who, throughout history, and even now, have labelled themselves as Christians, but who do not know the God of the Bible, the God who created the universe and who chose the people of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to be blessed among the nations. Their anti-Jewish actions have caused millions of Jews to be skeptical of anyone calling themselves “Christian,” including those who say that they love Israel.

The Friends of Zion Heritage Center has been established in the heart of Jerusalem as a testimony to, and a remembrance of, the thousands of Righteous among the Nations who have stood for and with the Jewish people and the nation of Israel, often putting themselves and their families at risk of great peril, and even to the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives to help form, build and defend the Zionist state of Israel.

The Friends of Zion Heritage Center share the stories of some of the many who have built, and are building, bridges of love between Christians and Jews. In its halls visitors will witness untold stories that have been hidden for years behind the headlines of horror and tales of atrocities imposed upon the Jewish people. It is our hope that these stories will help the people of Israel to realize that there are literally hundreds of thousands more of these righteous people who, although their names will likely never grace these walls, pray daily for the peace of Jerusalem, the state of Israel and for Jewish people everywhere.

Surrounded by enemies whose goal is to wipe Israel off the map, the Jewish people need to know that there has been, there are, and there will always be friends of Zion around the world. We believe that, through this Center, the people of Israel can be encouraged by knowing that the whole world is not against them. Bible-believers love what God loves. We know that He loves Israel. We do too, with a love that will not only endure, but grow stronger with each passing day.

Please, join us at the Friends of Zion Heritage Center and become acquainted with some of the Gentile Defenders of the Promise, Friends of the People of Israel, and Heroes of Zionism. Your perspective on the past and present will change, and your hope for the future will burn brighter.

Jan Karski: Righteous Among the Nations

Jan Karski: Righteous Among the NationsJan Karski was named Righteous Among the Nations and given Honorary Citizenship in the State of Israel in 1982 at the age 68. Karski’s story may not be as well-known as others, like Schindler, but, it in a taped interview in 1996, four years before his death, he was still unable to tell even a part of his story without shedding tears that revealed a broken heart.

Understandably, his heart was broken by the atrocities that he had personally witnessed beginning to unfold perpetrated on the Jewish people in his Polish homeland. But this was not his greatest heartache nor the one that inflicted the greatest personal pain. It was the one that he called the Second Original Sin. He did not mean the Holocaust. He was referring to the, “self-imposed ignorance, or insensitivity, or self-interest, or hypocrisy or heartless rationalization,” that caused his mission to fail.

Karski’s mission was not to save a Jew. It was not even to save some Jews. It was to save all of them. He said, “The Lord assigned me a role to speak and write during the war, when – as it seemed to me – it might help. It did not.” Therein was his heartache. Having seen first-hand how the Jewish people were suffering under the Gestapo in Warsaw, he understood that nothing would stop Hitler from completing his Final Solution, unless it came from outside the countries over which he had control. He determined to expose the travesty to the entire world.

At great peril to himself and those who helped, he made his way across Europe in 1942 to Great Britain and, ultimately, to the United States intending to appeal to the highest levels of leadership for the help the Jews so desperately needed. Indeed, he was received by some of the most influential people in both countries, where he produced graphic and startling evidence “exceeding everything fantasy can picture.”

In Washington D.C., he met with President Roosevelt’s closest Jewish advisors. Those meetings were where his heart was crushed. Despite being politely received, he found that, almost without exception, his words had fallen upon deaf ears, even to the extent that Felix Frankfurter, himself a Jew and a Supreme Court Justice, told Karski, “I am unable to believe you.”

It is difficult to imagine the frustration of the messenger whose report would not be believed and whose hopes were miserably dashed. But, if there could be a horror more imaginable than the Holocaust itself, it might have been the one that Karski ultimately suffered when he read the news reports after the war that “the governments, the leaders, the scholars, did not know what had been happening to the Jews. They were taken by surprise. The murder of six million innocents was a secret.”

Karski, on a mission to warn the world and save the Jews from unspeakable abominations, came to understand how many of the Old Testament prophets agonized when no one would listen. The more he tried, the more he was rebuffed, but the more he also learned to love the Jewish people.

In his later years, Karski called himself a Christian Jew. His wife’s entire Jewish family died in the concentration camps. Karski’s love for the Jewish people endured as long as he lived.