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The Hero Raoul Wallenberg

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He was a man who saved over 100,000 lives, risking his own for each one. Then he disappeared. Raoul Wallenberg was considered a great hero for many reasons: his background, heroic actions and influence on many people, including myself.
Despite his father’s death, Raoul had an exceptionally privileged childhood. He was born on August 4, 1912 in Stockholm, Sweden. His mother, Maj, gave birth at the age of twenty-one, three months widowed. Raoul’s father died of cancer as an officer in the Swedish navy. When Raoul was six years old, his mother married Frederic Von Dardel. Dardel, already with a son and daughter, supplied Raoul with a brother a sister. The new family became very close.
Although Dardel was a very influential and well-off man, the rest of Raoul’s family was also rich and powerful. One was an ambassador to the Swedish embassy in Japan and another a bishop for the Lutheran church. One uncle was the first professor of neurology and another was a jeweler and advisor to the king. Among these high ranks were also many bankers and diplomats of great stature.
With such a wealthy upbringing, Raoul was expected to be a good student and attended only the best of schools. He finished high school in 1930, graduating at the top of his class. He then went through a required six months of military training before moving to France for two years to perfect his French, having already mastered German, English and Russian. When he returned home, his grandfather urged him to study commerce and banking, but Raoul refused to travel the path of the previous Wallenbergs and attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to study architecture. Not only did he finish a four and a half year program a year early, but he also received a medal given to only one out of 1100 students.
After completing school, Wallenberg entered the work force, trying to find where he fit in. He first traveled to South Africa to work for a Swedish building firm in 1934 for six months. In 1935, he moved to Haifa, Palestine to work for a Dutch bank. There, he met many Jews running from Nazism and was deeply touched. He returned to Sweden in 1936 where his uncle’s connections got him a job at The Central European Trading Company, working for a Jewish man named Koloman Lauer. Raoul was a hard worker and became junior partner in just six months.
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