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December 09, 1983 - Image 12

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-12-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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12 Friday, December 9, 1983

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Moral evil is its own
curse.

Family's Debt to Wallenberg Is Re-Called

The GLATT
KOSHER

s

Air ConditWord
and Hosted

By MAURICE
SAMUELSON

HOREC130
Howl 6 Cabana Club

LONDON (JTA) — The
Hanuka candles in a Lon-
don home this week re-
minded a Jewish family of
its debt to Raoul Wallen-
berg, the legendary
Swedish diplomat who
saved thousands of Jews in
wartime Hungary and then
disappeared in the Soviet
Union.
For Rabbi Leo Fischer,
Hanuka is always associ-
ated with the rescue of his
brother, Arthur Fischer,
from certain death at the
hands of the Nazis. Al-
though Arthur himself died
nearly three years ago, his
debt to the Swedish hero is
cherished by his brother,

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RAOUL WALLENBERG

who also played an impor-
tant, if indirect, role in the
Swedish rescue mission in
Hungary.
It is one of many untold
stories gleaned by this
correspondent about the
exploits of Wallenberg,
whose own fate as a post-
war Soviet prisoner still
remains a mystery.

December 1944 marked
the blackest period of the
war for the Jews in the
Hungarian capital who
had escaped deportation
earlier in the year. With
the city bombarded by
the Soviet army, the
bloodthirsty Arrow
Cross fascists and the
Nazi SS were trying to
murder as many Jews as
possible before meeting
their own fate at the
hands of the Russians.

Arthur Fischer, his wife
and two baby boys were
among hundreds of Jews
sheltering in an apartment
block designed as Swedish
property by Wallenberg. All
had been furnished with
Swedish provisional
passports in a bid to
safeguard them against
death or deportation.
On Dec. 10, Arthur rashly
ventured outside the build-
ing and was arrested, in
spite of his Swedish docu-
ments, by Arrow Cross
thugs. Together with about
15 other Jews he was locked
up in a factory on an island
in the Danube. At that time,
Jews were being murdered
wholesale and Arthur and
his comrades feared the
worst.
The following day was the
first night of Hanuka. As
darkness fell, one of the
Jews found a candle in the
factory. The prisoner kin-
dled it, recited the tradi-
tional blessings, and quietly
intoned the Hanuka an-
them, Maoz Tsur, recalling
the miraculous deliv-
erances of old.
Arthur later described
what happened:

"The following day, we
suddenly heard people
arguing outside the fac-
tory. The door opened
and in came Raoul Wal-
lenberg. He recognized
me as a Swedish pass-
holder and took all of us
back to the Swedish
houses."

Wallenberg had already
saved Fischer once before.
Together with two cousins,
who also held Swedish pap-
ers, Arthur had been put on
a train for the Polish death
camps. Wallenberg had in-

tercepted it before it
reached the border, and se-
cured the release of several
people, including the Fis-
chers.
As if that was not enough,
Wallenberg came to the
family's aid a third time, on
Jan. 6, 1945, shortly before
the eastern sector of
Budapest fell to the Rus-
sians. On that day the Nazis
and their Hungarian ac-
complices were driving
Jews from the Swedish
houses to the general
ghetto, where conditions
were much more perilous.
Wallenberg turned up too
late to stop the transfer of
Arthur Fischer's family and
elderly parents, and one of
the two Fischer infants was
to die in the general ghetto.
However, Wallenberg man-
aged to prevent the evacua-
tion of other members of the
family who remained in the
Swedish houses until the
liberation.

Arthur's brother, Leo,
who has preserved this
account of their family's
debt to Wallenberg, also
played an important part
in making it possible. As
a refugee from Nazi Ger-
many, Leo Fischer had
obtained Swedish citi-
zenship just before the
war, thus ensuring that
his family, living in Hun-
gary, were among the
first to receive Swedish
papers when the Nazis
took power there in
March 1944.

Although their father
was originally from Hun-
gary, the two Fischer
brothers were born in
Fuerth, Germany, and went
to the same Jewish school as
Henry Kissinger, the future
American Secretary_ of
State.
In 1933, while Arthur and
the other Fischers left for
Hungary, Leo went to Swe-
den where he served as a
rabbi in a small town on the
Baltic in 1934. He joined his
parents in Budapest, from
where he planned to proceed
to Palestine. For various
reasons this plan fell
through and Leo returned a
year later to Sweden, be-
coming a Swedish citizen in
1938.
By 1944, Rabbi Fischer
had settled down and mar-
ried in Malmo, on Sweden's
coast. In March of that year,
when Adolf Eichmann
began dispatching Hunga-
rian Jews to Auschwitz,
Fischer appealed to the
Swedish authorities to pro-
tect his relatives.

In July, when Wallen-
berg expanded the
Swedish rescue. mission,
Leo Fischer began
"adopting" scores of
other Hungarian Jews
with whom he had no
family connection but
whose plight he under-
stood all too well.

After the war, Arthur and

Food Research

REHOVOT — The Brody
Center for Food Services
was dedicated recently at
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Hebrew University of
Jerusalem.

other members of the family
joined Leo in Sweden and
recounted their wartime
experiences to him. In 1949,
Arthur Fischer, his wife and
their surviving son moved
to the new state of Israel. He
himself died in 1981, in
Germany.
His brother Leo now lives
in Golders Green, London
where he recounted this
story of a modern Hanuka
miracle and his family's
debt to Wallenberg, the
hero who never came back.

Actor Ron Moody, who
appeared in the movie "O-
liver," was born Ron Mood-
nick.

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