Righteous Among the Nations Memorial in Budapest, Hungary

Righteous Among the Nations memorial at Dohany Street Synagogue

In a park behind the Dohány Street Synagogue, a black marble plaque is embedded in the ground and surrounded by a huge pile of stones and pebbles. On the plaque, 24 names are engraved in gold lettering. This memorial commemorates Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat, and others who provided Jews with documents of protection and passports to enable them to escape being sent to extermination camps during World War II.

This plaque is known as the Righteous Among the Nations, a title used by the State of Israel to describe the non-Jewish people who saved Jewish people from the Nazis. Along with Wallenberg, the plaque lists Carl Lutz (the Swiss Vice-consul), Angel Sanz Briz (the Spanish Ambassador in Hungary), Giorgio Perlasca (an Italian who declared himself the Spanish consul), and Angelo Rotta (an Italian prelate bishop).

It is said that when Wallenberg arrived in Hungary as a Swedish diplomat, he did so with the aim of protecting as much of Budapest’s Jewish population as possible.  He led the most extensive and successful rescue attempts during the Nazi era.

When the Soviet army entered Budapest in January 1945, they arrested Wallenberg for espionage and had him sent to Moscow. While the Soviet Union announced in the 1950s that he had passed away from a heart attack in 1947, many believe he was executed by the Soviets who accused him of spying for the United States.

The plaque is one of several memorials in Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park. The most striking is the holds the Memorial of the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs, a large sculpture in the shape of a weeping willow created by Hungarian sculptor Imre Varga. Its leaves bear the names of the thousands of Hungarian Jews who were killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Posted by Contributor