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July 30, 1982 - Image 64

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-07-30

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04 Friday, July 30, 1982


Wallenberg Days at U-M Recalled in 'Angel of Rescue'

Hundreds of thousands of
words, perhaps they run
into the millions, have been
written about Raoul Wal-
lenberg and his heroic role
as the rescuer of tens of
thousands of Hungarian
Jews. The dramatic story is
related in a score of books,
most of them already given
extensive reviews in The
Jewish News.
Among the most impres-
sive in the latter category is
"Raoul Wallenberg: Angel
of Rescue" by Harvey
Rosenfeld (Prometheus
Press), which makes its ap-
pearance in book stores
throughout the country this
week, on the eve of Wal-
lenberg's 70th birthday,
Aug. 4.
Rosenfeld's book had an
advance review in the May
28 issue of The Jewish News
by Pearl Gayer. Many addi-
tional facts about one of the
great gentile heroes of the
Holocaust must be given
It should be noted at
the outset that, unlike
most of the activists in the
current movement de-
manding Wallenberg's
release from Russian
prison, Rosenfeld is
skeptical about such con-
fidence in a person's abil-
ity to survive torment
under Soviet suppres-
Wallenberg's mother was
especially adamant in her
insistence that whatever-
honor is accorded her fam-
ous son, it should not be in
the form of a tribute, since
tribute suggests acclaim
after death. She expressed
her view in a letter she
wrote to Detroiter Sol King
on March 15, 1972. The text
of her letter is included as
an appendix in Rosenfeld's
book. She wrote:
"I am deeply touched by
your friendship to my be-
loved son Raoul and the
warm-hearted and admir-
ing lecture you held March
15, 1972. The lectures gave
such a beautiful portrait of
Raoul. He was always the
most wonderful and loving
"He has never been al-
lowed to write -to-me. But
through many prisoners
from Soviet we know about
his tragic fate until. 1961
when Prof. Myasnikov in
Moscow told my friend Prof.
Svartz, on her question,
that Raoul was in a mental
hospital. In 1966 I was told
by a Hungarian that Raoul
was in Siberia.
"Though he wrote it on
oath, we have not been able
to make any researches. It
can be true and it might be a
"In February 1957 the
Soviet government rep-
resented by Gromyko

sent a note to the Swedish
government 'that it ought
to be concluded that Wal-
lenberg died in the prison
of Ljubljanka in July
"I am sending you a little
pocketbook, written by my
husband Fredrik von Dar-
del 'Raoul Wallenberg —
facts about a fate,' as I am


sure that somebody can help
you to read it."
Sol King, who since his
retirement from the Albert
Kahn organization has
lived in Palm Beach, Fla.,
was a classmate of Wallen-
berg in the University of
Michigan College of Ar-
chitecture. He was the in-
itiator of the lecture series
at the University of Michi-
gan in honor of Wallenberg.
That's when Wallenberg's
mother expressed her insis-
tence that her son was alive.
"Sol King recalls the
simplicity yet brilliance of
Raoul Wallenberg:
" 'I still picture Raoul
Wallenberg in gym shoes
eating a hot dog — just a
typical American college
student. Neither his con-
duct nor his manner of
dress gave any who knew
him the slightest clue to
his noble ancestry. In all
that he did he managed to
remain immensely unas-
" 'But one could not but
realize the underlying bril-
liance. He was a modest
person but a talented ar-
chitectural student who
showed great insight in
finding simple solutions to
complex problems. His
deeds during World War II
were totally in character
with the warmly human yet
maturely wise attitudes he
exhibited while at the uni-
versity.' "
Rosenfeld's Wallenberg
story traces the many Wal-
lenberg associations in Ann
Arbor,,,his friendships and
his human characteristics
which impressed those who
knew him. For this purpose
Rosenfeld did much re-
Wallenberg's grand-
father selected the Univer-

sity of Michigan College of
Architecture as a "highly
regarded school" and
Richard Robinson, a
classmate quotes Wallen-
berg saying:
"The Eastern colleges
were too exclusive, the
colleges in the West were
too progressive in their
way of thinking, and the
colleges in the South
were too restricted in
their outlook. Midwest-
ern colleges seemed just
about right, and the Uni-
versity of Michigan had
an excellent reputation in
architectural studies."
That is how the Swedish
student, a member of a
prominent banking family,
came to Ann Arbor.
The University of Michi-
gan, Rosenfeld states, "gave
Wallenberg an enthusiastic
appreciation of the Ameri-
can way of life. He mingled
easily with the students and
few imagined that he came
from aristocracy."
It is at this point that Sol
King is introduced as the in-
itiator of the lectureship
bearing \the Wallenberg
Wallenberg's teachers,
the U-M recollections,
provide an interesting
chapter in the Rosenfeld
account. The author of
"Raoul ' Wallenberg:
Angel of Rescue" gives
accounts of the Wallen-
berg university and
Michigan residence ex-
"Irr- 1969, at the an-
nouncement of the cam-
paign to establish the Wal-
lenberg lectureship, mem-
bers of the University of
Michigan family spoke in
glowing terms of the former
student. Mrs. Jean Heb-
rard, wife of a professor at
the college of architecture,
called Raoul: " 'A charm-
ing; serious young man who
was unusually bright.'
"Prof. George E. Brigham
remembered Raoul as an
outstanding student who
registered for more courses
than anyone else and did
very well in all his subjects
with only _minimal study.
" 'I will never forget his
personality,' Prof. Brigham
recalled. 'He visited in our
home, and Mrs. Brigham
still speaks of his warm,
friendly, and outgoing na-
ture.' Indeed, Mrs. Ilma
Brigham, a resident at the
Westchester Care Center in
Tempe, Ariz., talks ex-
citedly about 'that charm-
ing young gentleman who
always won over those
whom he met. His name will
always be remembered at
the University of Michigan.
The life of Raoul Wallen-
berg should be a great inspi-
ration to many people,' she
commented, upon hearing

that a book on his life was
being prepared.
"Everyone agreed that
Raoul was an unusually
gifted student. In fact, he
received the Silver Medal
of the American Institute
of Archietcts as the
graduate with the highest
scholastic standing.
"According to Richard
Robinson, 'Raoul studied
little, but he performed
quickly and very efficiently.
It was not uncommon for
him to do a project over-
night.' Robinson recalled
that when Raoul broke his
right arm, he attended clas-
ses with his arm in a sling.
`He began drawing with his
left arm,' Robinson said,
`and you know something,
he drew better than all of
"The most vivid recollec-
tions of Raoul's under-
graduate days are those of
his professor, Dr. Jean Paul
Slusser. Now in his 90s, Dr.
Slusser spoke lucidly and
with exuberance about his
outstanding student during
an interview in his pic-
turesque frame house in
Ann Arbor:
" 'Raoul Wallenberg was
one of the brightest and best
students I had in my 30-
year experience as a profes-
sor of drawing and painting.
If I were to make a list of my
10 best students, Raoul
would be among those at the
top of my list. Raoul Wal-
lenberg was so apt a student
in drawing and painting
that he got nothing but A's
from all of us, I suppose.

" 'Finally, one day I
asked him, 'Raoul, why
don't you become an ar-
tist?' He looked at me
slowly and perhaps a lit-
tle sadly. He then
explained to me briefly
and with enormous mod-
esty, too, the history of
his family and how the
sons of the house of Wal-
lenberg were educated.
But what remained most
clearly in my mind was
the love he had for his
grandfather and how his
grandfather was not too
proud to work in the steel
mills of Sweden.
" think most people on
campus only vaguely knew
about his family and its pre-
stige. I found out that his
family had greater wealth
than that of the king of
Sweden. But Raoul took his
place in the student body
just as another bright and
eager young student of ar-
chitecture. He lived mod-
estly in a tiny frame house
on Hill Street, now a gar-
age, so small that he oc-
cupied the only rented room
in it, on the ground floor at
the front.
" 'So competent a
draughtsman and painter
was young Wallenberg that
in his last class with me I
encouraged him to create a
large mural painting in pas-
tel and crayon on the cor-
ridor wall across from my of-
fice on the fourth floor of the
architrcture building. He
worked on it for days,
maybe weeks, and it was so

driver and his associate
that since they had rob-
bed him, the least they
could do was not throw
him out into the dark. To
prevent any resistance,
the robbers ordered
Raoul to keep his hands
and luggage on his head.
However, the robbers,
worried about Raoul's
nonchalant, calm
titude, precluded trou-
by dumping him out
the roadside somewhere
near Gary, Ind.
"Raoul patiently waited
in the bushes until sunrise
good that I allowed it to re- when he stopped a train.
main in place for perhaps a The incident had little effect
on his attitudes and out-
year or more.
" 'Probably about 12'x15' look, but he vowed to never
in size, it contained some again keep money in his
excellent groupings of large suitcase and to never volun-
figures in full color and had teer information that he
a true mural feeling, or so it had money when hitchhik-
seemed to me. The work was ing. In fact, according to
on heavy reddish-grey Prof. Slusser, 'Raoul loved
building paper bought by every minute of the trip and
enjoyed his down-to-earth
the roll.' "
There were several in- adventure more than any-
teresting episodes among thing else.'
"The memories of Wal-
Wallenberg's experiences
lenberg's classmates at the
as a U-M student:
"It was not all study for University of Michigan
Raoul. Two of the more point to an outstanding, re-
memorable episodes dur- sourceful individual with
ing the Ann Arbor years the potential for great ac-
were his working at the complishments and with
Chicago World's Fair the personal qualities and
during the summer of character requisite for
1934 and his being rob- bravery.
"Fred Graham said, 'Af-
bed at gunpoint in his last
ter a lapse of 43 years, one
year at school.
"Raoul loved to hitch- should not expect a com-
hike, and one day in the plete recall of Raoul. It is
summer of 1934 he hitch- certain to me, however, that
hiked his way to the World's his character made a lasting
Fair in Chicago. He im- impression and that know-
mediately went to the ing him for that brief period
Swedish Pavilion and asked had enriched my life.
for work. Nothing was be-
" 'I remember visiting
neath this descendant of him in Stockholm in Sep-
aristocracy. He was a tour tember 1937. He was
guide. He cleaned windows. promoting his clever in-
He sold Swedish glass, fur- vention: an invisible zip-
niture, and books.
per fastener for garments
. His demonstration
"His most satisfying mo-
ment came when he con- that he could be brazen
vinced the director of the and brave is, to my un-
derstanding, an exten-
sion of his perception of
things in a simple, direct
"Margaret Culver Ogden,
of Wayne, Mich., also re-
members Raoul Wallenberg
as a brilliant student. 'I re-
member Raoul as an out-
standing, gifted student. I
first met him in my English
class and was amazed at his
tremendous vocabulary. He
was a very adaptable indi-
vidual. Despite being
color-blind, Raoul lined up
his paints in a precise way
and his color combinations
were always very pleasing.'
"Mrs. Ogden, who WE
pavilion to properly illumi-
nate the 200-foot skys- occasional dancing da,
craper so that the 'Swedish the young Swede, also re-
statue at the top would be calls him as a sensitive and
caring individual.
swimming in spotlight.'
" 'To accomplish the
"In his senior year Raoul
decided to make an adven- humanitarian work in
turous hitchhiker's trip ac- Budapest, Raoul obviously
ross America to the Pacific had to be a sensitive and
Coast and back. He left Ann caring individual. And that
Arbor in old clothes, with he was. I remember him sit-
only a small piece of lug- ting in the drafting room be-
gage. The trip proceeded fore leaving Ann Arbor. He
smoothly until the last leg once had told me that his
of his trek, between Chicago grandfather had made him
and Ann Arbor, when his promise that he would have
two 'hosts' robbed him of his no serious personal in-
volvements while in college.
spare cash.
(Continued on Page 5)
"He pleaded with the

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