There but by the grace of God go I
(John Bradford 1510-1555, English Protestant martyr)
He was the modern St. George who saved thousands of people, fighting the ferocious occupying power, his only arms being sagacity temerity and wit, motivated by compassion for the persecuted, the tortured, while he himself becoming the victim of another totalitarian power.
I close my eyes and try to remember when it was I saw him for the last time. It was around 16th January 1945. Budapest was liberated – or occupied, depending on people’s ideology – by the Soviet troops. We were a small group of the Swedish Special Mission employees, staying at the vaults of the former British Embassy and the National Bank and were supposed to spend the night in the air raid shelter. It was probably too dangerous to go home in the evening. Somewhere in the building there must have been a burst pipe, water was rising always higher and we were moving up from one wooden shelf to a higher one, wondering if, having survived the German occupation and the Szalasy Arrow Cross government, are we now going to be drowned or only frozen to death? But our Guardian Angels saved us, the water stopped and we fell into an exhausted sleep.
Next morning with bleary eyes we said goodbye to Wallenberg who came by for a short visit prior to his going to Debrecen where he was to meet the Provisory Hungarian Government. We never saw him again. The Swedish Mission was rounded up; their task of saving the remaining Jewish population of Budapest was accomplished as far as was humanly possible.Read More »There but by the grace of God go I