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2BWednesday December 7, 2011 // The Statement
Wednesday - Dcember 20117B
Editor in Chief:
The Statement is The Michigan
Daily's news magazine, distributed
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random student interview by kaitlin williams
MICHIGAN MAN OF
How Raoul Wallenberg took on the Nazis
and saved thousands of lives
By Bethany Biron
. . .. . .. ..... . .... . .. .. .. .. . .. .. ... .. .. . .. .. .. . ..
Welcome to the Random Stu-
dent Interview, where we push
the boundaries of desperation.
Hey do you have a minute?
You don't sound too convincing.
Do you really have a minute?</
Yeah. I mean, I should be doing
What do you mean by "every-
Oh, you know. Finals are next
What's the damage?
Not too bad. This one class is kill-
ing me. I have one final, paper and
two presentations due.
Damn. How will you ever get
Well,I have to find someone to buy
me Adderall. No, give me Adder-
all. I don't have any money, and I
heard 5-Hour Energy tastes like
And Adderall tastes like what?
I don't know, I've never had it
before, but I hear it does cool
things. Wait, my friend gave me
some of her ADHD medication
one time, but I don't know how it
tastes because I ate it with chick-
en shawarma. Anyway, that's my
So I take it we are in desperate
Yeah, good thing I'm not an engi-
neering major. Or pre-med. By the
way, did you know that the profes-
sion you're most likely to kill your-
self in is a 7-Eleven store clerk?
Yeah. I had a friend who worked
at 7-Eleven, and I haven't talked to
him in a few months and now I'm
afraid he's probably dead.
You jump to hasty conclusions
I'm a pretty pessimistic person. I
see life on the dark side. I mean,
I've seen the dark side of life.
OK, let's try to get to the bright
side. What about break? Do you
have any plans?
I mean, my parents did suggest
going to Maine, which sounds way
worse than Michigan, so I said no.
So I'm stuck here.
Oh no, what will you do in Mich-
Hopefully I can get a job for next
semester, but not at 7-Eleven.
They're hiring. Sorry to anyone
that works there.
Have you applied anywhere
Yeah, but it's probably too fancy
for me. I shouldn't name-drop. I
want to get hired.
Good policy. What do you want
to make money for? Spend it all
on holiday gifts?
Well, I want to go somewhere for
my 21st birthday. I don't really
care about other people.
Well, as long as we're being hon-
est, what's your position on the
phrase "Happy Holidays"?
I think it's the right position. It's
a universal phrase. When you say
"Happy Holidays" to someone,
they know what you mean.
And what do you mean?
Have a happy holiday.
Well that's easy.
Also, you won't get anyone yell-
ing at you. Like if you say "Merry
Christmas," sometimes people
yell at you.
Why do you think that is?
People are angry.
How about you? Are you angry?
I would have to say no. Just a little
depressed about the prospect of
finals, but overall I'm good.
Does next semester look any
more promising for you?
If I don't get off the wait list for
this class, then no. I'll have class
at eight in the morning.
Yeah, at that point, you might as
well apply at 7-Eleven.
- Emma is an LSA junior
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Last week's crossword answers
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AERE WEFTP A RN
D H POKA N E O R
YE A E R R [A NT R T W 0
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D I S MA L R E iN
J E T L F a E t'i O
AS HE R M N T L AS H
M EE T S p Y T AY
Among the Arthur Millers and Gerald
Fords to graduate from the University,
it's easy to overlook a young Swedish
businessman who single-handedly saved the
lives of thousands of Jews in the Holocaust.
His name is Raoul Wallenberg, and his
short life as a humanitarian ended with a
death veiled in mystery.
Wallenberg graduated with honors from
the University's architecture program in1935.
A member of a wealthy Swedish family, he
was urged by his grandfather to look beyond
his family's fortune and pursue a course of
study that exposed him to the world.
He quickly fell in love with America and
became infatuated with the people and land-
scape of the country. After spending the
academic year studying the art of develop-
ing buildings, Wallenberg spent the summer
breaks hitchhiking across North America,
enthralled with the foreign lifestyle, accord-
ing to Scott Ellsworth, a lecturer in the Uni-
versity's Department of Afroamerican and
African Studies and leader of a campus group
that raises awareness about Wallenberg.
A MICHIGAN MAN
At the University, Wallenberg was popular
among his classmates and was lauded for his
Ellsworth shared a storywhenWallenberg
rode his bike to the home of a classmate's
mother, 50 miles north of Ann Arbor to have
tea with her women's society and discuss
"He makes this appearance, and every-
body falls in love with him," Ellsworth said.
"He was just this straight up guy who would
When Wallenberg graduated from the
University, he returned to Sweden "with a
heavy heart" in hopes of securing an archi-
tectural position back home, Ellsworth said.
The Great Depression had recently hit, and
the effects were felt worldwide - making
Wallenberg's job hunt challenging.
He began working as a sales representa-
tive, and his work required frequent travel to
Central Europe, including Germany, where
Adolf Hitler had already taken over power.
Wallenberg found himself frequently brush-
ing shoulders with Nazi officials.
A SPECIAL OPPORTUNITY
As a non-Jew and Swedish citizen - a neu-
tral country in World War II - Wallenberg
was still able to travel and continue with his
business affairs, particularly assisting clients
wli'ocouldn't do business in Nazi controlled
countries - including a Jewish businessman
in Sweden who was unable to travel to his
business in Hungary after it became aligned
with Nazi Germany.
Hungary's alliance with Nazi Germany led
to a series of large-scale murders that ravaged
the countryside and killed 400,000 Jews in
The remaining Jews left in Hungary were
concentrated in Budapest, and the United
States decided to intervene.
According to Ellsworth, the United States
Office of Strategic Services began searching
for a diplomat who could use American fund-
ing to bribe Nazi officials in Budapest to pro-
tect the Jewish community. A tip led them to
Wallenberg after they heard about his work
assisting Jewish clients, and OSS officials
asked the Swedish government if Wallenberg
could work as a liaison with their organiza-
Soon, Wallenberg was headed to Budapest
with diplomatic credentials and a pocket full
of American money.
This time it wasn't for a business deal, but
to fight Nazis.
Wallenberg's first course of action was
to purchase between 30 to 40 apartments
and townhouses throughout Hungary, atop
which he installed Swedish flags to disguise
them as diplomatic safe havens.
He then began funneling Jews into the
homes while concurrently working with the
Nazis to ensure the diplomatic immunity of
the safe houses.
However, Wallenberg couldn't prevent
the resurgence of violence as fascist groups
began killing Jews on the streets of Budapest.
Ellsworth said one of the fascists' favorite
practice was to tie groups of Jewish citizens
together, kill the ones in the middle of the
group, and throw them into the Danube River
Once Wallenberg heard of the attacks, he
quickly intervened by producing counterfeit
Swedish passports for the Jews so they would
be legally protected.
A HUNTED MAN
Amid the bribery of Nazi officers and coun-
terfeit passports, Wallenberg's life became
"He became a hunted man," Ellsworth
said. "He went from house to house every
THOSE WHO STAY
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night, sleeping with a revolver under his pil-
As the war came to a close, the European
railroad system became so dilapidated from
wartime attacks that Nazi officials began
leading "death marches" to transport the
Jews by foot hundreds of miles to concentra-
tion camps across Europe.
To aid the ailing Jews on these marches,
Wallenberg began providing the traveling
Jews with food and medical supplies, bribing
his way past Nazi guards to assist the wound-
ed and sick. He also shared escape methods.
His kindness was so moving, that when
instructed to shoot him, many of the Nazi
officers purposely misaimed, Ellsworth said.
When the Soviet army entered the out-
skirts of Budapest to liberate the city from
the Nazis, Wallenberg spoke with the Russian
authorities, presenting himself as a Swedish
diplomat living in Budapest, to voice his con-
cerns over the inhumane treatment of the
Jews on the death marches.
It was the last time he was ever seen.
There are various conspiracies about the
whereabouts of Wallenberg. Though the
Soviets announced in 1957 that he had been
kidnapped and made a prisoner of war in Rus-
sia, some say that he died of a heart attack in
1947 while under Soviet custody. Many histo-
rians say the real truth may never be known.
A MISSION TO TELL
Despite his disappearance, his legacy as a
great humanitarian persists.
Ellsworth said he became interested in
Wallenberg during the summer of 2009 while
he worked at Camp Michigania - a camp
sponsoredby the University's Alumni Associ-
ation for alumni and their families - and led
a session on notable alumni, like Wallenberg,
with former Michigan football coach, Lloyd
Ellsworth's determination to raise aware-
ness aboutWallenberg was solidified duringa
trip to Rome lastyear when he heard a retired
scientist's story of Holocaust survival. The
man survived thanks to a mysterious diplo-
mat who helped him and his mother escape
from Nazi-controlled Budapest.
The story drew Ellsworth's mind immedi-
ately to Wallenberg and convinced him that
the Swede's story must be told.
When he returned to Ann Arbor, Ells-
worth teamed up with current and former
students to create a group dedicated to mak-
ing Wallenberg's story known among stu-
dents. Ellsworth - along with LSA juniors
Sarah Thomas, a former Michigan Daily staff
reporter, and Becca Denenberg - has been
See WALLENBERG, Page 8B