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Posted March 28, 2011
Written by John Bierman
Published in New York by The Viking Press, 1981
Pages: 218 Price: $12.95 ISBN: 0-670-74924-9
Book Review by Rachel Kuhr
Many stories are left untold. Throughout history, people and events can easily be forgotten. When something happens, and the word isn't passed along, it eventually fades away. John Bierman, the author of Righteous Gentile, witnessed what time can do. Raoul Wallenberg is a name that many people aren't familiar with. He disappeared before the Holocaust came to an end, and even though he made an incredible impact, memories of him are hard to find. The legend that describes a true hero is remarkable, and this book was written in order to keep it alive.
Adolf Hitler had come into power, setting the ground work for a catastrophe. When he began his journey, Germany and many of its surrounding countries were changed entirely. Laws that were established, and rights that had been given, no longer demonstrated the importance that they used to. Unfair treatment broke out in many areas, causing problems that seemed impossible to ignore. Justice was given to the Aryan race, but as for the Jews and other outcasts, there was little hope.
A man by the name of Adolf Eichmann was ready to destroy, fully prepared to put Hitler's 'final solution' into action. Unjust conduct was being permitted everywhere; cruel punishment, imprisonment, torture, and death became a common occurrence within the Jewish communities. These innocent people were robbed, deported, and slaughtered every day. Many countries had been ambushed, and thousands of Jews had been treated horribly. Hungary, however; had remained protected. Eichmann formed a plan to rid this country of its prominent Jews. He believed that this process could be done in "record time", but there was another man that had a strategy of his own. Raoul Wallenberg was about to complicate things. Some wanted to kill each and every Jew, while he wanted nothing more than to save them.
Raoul Wallenberg was chosen as "a suitable non-Jew to go to Budapest on a rescue mission" (p. 31). His reputation grew, and shortly after his arrival, everyone knew his name. By handing out Swedish passports/protective passes, Raoul was able to save thousands of Jews from otherwise unavoidable deaths. After committing himself to the Hungarian Jews, and working towards their survival, he was arrested. On January 17, 1945, Russian liberators took Raoul Wallenberg, putting him in prison. No one knows how or when his death took place, and this lack of information is emphasized by referring to him as a "missing hero of the Holocaust."
Many people have yet to hear this amazing tale about the courage and compassion that was bestowed upon one man. The purpose of writing this book, was to insure that Raoul Wallenberg will always be recognized and remembered. Through this story, John Bierman was also able to shine a new light on a dark time, revealing unfamiliar information to each reader. Things have been written about Raoul Wallenberg in both Hungarian and Swedish, but this became a great opportunity to interpret the story into English or other universal languages. This book is completely true, no fiction was added for dramatic effect. History itself provided a very valuable plot, one that intrigues on its own. As stated in the acknowledgments, "Every incident in this book is supported either by documentary evidence, usually indicated in the text, *continued on the next