Chronology of the Rescue of Jews in Budapest, Hungary


Jews of Hungary31-33% of the Jews of Hungary survived the Holocaust (256,000-275,000 survived, 550,000-569,000 lost; Jews of Budapest – 78%; 100,000 survived, 28,000 lost).[1] Jewish population of Hungary in 1940 was 825,000. Included are Jews of Northern Transylvania, Banat and the Trans Carpathian Ukraine. Approximately 255,000-265,000 Jewish survivors were in Hungary and its former provinces at the end of the war. 844 Hungarians have been honored for rescuing Jews.[2]

Many of the Jews of Budapest survived, largely as a result of the activities of 39 diplomats who were actively aiding Jews in the beleaguered city.  The diplomats were aided by a number of Jewish Zionist youth organizations and their memberships.  Some of the most successful rescue efforts in the Holocaust took place because of these diplomats, stationed in Budapest.  Among them were Consul Carl Lutz and the staff of the Swiss legation.  Raoul Wallenberg, Per Anger, Lars Berg, and Minister Danielsson, of the Swedish legation were particularly active.  Diplomats representing Spain, Portugal, and the Vatican also aided Jews.  Red Cross representatives from a number of countries were also active in saving Jews.  Jews were given protective documents known as Schutzpasse or Schutzbriefe.  These protective documents gave diplomatic status of the country that was stamped on the papers.  In addition, the neutral diplomats established dozens of protective or "safe" houses for their Jewish protoges.  Nazi and SS officials, as well as the Hungarian Arrow Cross, were reluctant to raid these houses because of the protected status of the country. A number of these diplomats have been honored by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations.


January 2, 1942
Consul Carl Lutz assigned to Chief of the Department of Foreign Interests of the Swiss Legation in Budapest.

January 20, 1942
Wannsee Conference in Berlin: Heydrich outlines plan to murder Europe’s Jews.

March 1942
Consul Lutz issues more than 10,000 “Palestine certificates,” and invents a document called the Schutzbrief (protective letter) to protect Jewish refugees who then escape to Palestine.

George Mandel-Mantello begins issuing El Salvador citizenship papers to Jews in Belgrade, Yugoslavia and is soon arrested by Nazis.

April 19-May 16, 1943
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising; Jews in the Warsaw ghetto resist German deportations to murder camps.

January 1944
President Roosevelt sets up War Refugee Board (WRB) in response to the failure of the Allies to protect Jews from extermination; Raoul Wallenberg is selected in an attempt to protect Hungarian Jews from deportation.

March 19, 1944
Germany occupies Hungary and immediately implements anti-Jewish decrees; places the Hungarian government at the disposal of Adolf Eichmann, architect of the Final Solution; Consul Lutz challenges Eichmann, begins to issue thousands of additional Schutzpässe; Lutz appeals to the neutral legations of Sweden, Spain, Portugal and the Vatican for a united front against the deportations of the Hungarian Jews.

April 5, 1944
Jews of Hungary forced to wear the star; Jewish businesses and bank accounts confiscated; Jews placed in ghettoes.

Spring 1944
Dr. Harald Feller assumes post as Swiss Ambassador to Budapest, replacing Maximilian Jaeger.  Works closely in support of Consul Lutz’s rescue activities.  Personally hides 32 Jews in his own home.

May 15-July 9, 1944
More than 438,000 Hungarian Jews from the countryside are deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where most of them are gassed.  It takes 148 trains to carry them there.

May 1944
Friedrich Born, representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross, arrives in Budapest and begins to issue thousands of Swiss Red Cross documents to protect Jewish refugees.

Mantello issues thousands of El Salvador visas to Jewish refugees in Budapest through Consul Lutz’s office.  Mantello soon arrested by Swiss police.

June 6, 1944
D-Day: Allied invasion at Normandy.

July 7, 1944
Hungarian Regent Miklós Horthy reassumes power, temporarily halts deportation of Jews; there are 200,000 Jews left in Budapest; they are concentrated into two ghettoes; Lutz, Wallenberg and others place Jews under their diplomatic protection in over 100 safe houses; Nazi and Arrow Cross gangs continue to raid and murder in these areas.

July 12, 1944
Don Angel Sans Briz, Minister (Ambassador) of Spain stationed in Budapest, issues 500 visas to Budapest Jews providing them protection from deportation and death marches.  Also rents buildings that become protected by the Spanish legation.

October 15, 1944
Hungarian Arrow Cross and Nazis introduce new reign of terror and murder tens of thousands of Budapest Jews; death marches to Austria instituted; Lutz, Wallenberg, Perlasca, Born and Rotta succeed in stopping death marches and protecting their safe houses; by the end of the war, the courageous diplomats are able to save the lives of 124,000 Jews in Budapest.

Portuguese Chargé d’Affaires in Budapest, Carlos Branquinho, issues more than 800 protective passes and establishes safe houses to shelter Jews.

October 1944
Henryk Slawik, the Polish Chargé d’Affaires in Budapest, issued thousands of documents certifying that Polish Jewish refugees were Christian.  Slawik was caught and deported to Mauthausen, where he was killed.

October 1944
Perlasca becomes Spanish citizen; volunteers with Consul Sans-Briz in mission to protect Jews in Budapest; by November, 3,000 Jews received Spanish protection in eight safe houses.

November 8, 1944
Beginning of death marches of approximately 40,000 Jews from Budapest to Austria.

November 30, 1944
Spanish Consul General Sans-Briz leaves Budapest; Perlasca appoints himself Spanish Consul General, and continues to issue Spanish protective passes.

December 1, 1944-January 16, 1945
Perlasca “Head” of the Spanish Mission in Budapest, saves between 3,000 and 5,000 Jews.

January 1945
Lutz and Wallenberg thwart Nazi plans to blow up the Pest ghetto with 70,000 Jewish inhabitants.

January 16, 1945
Soviets liberate Budapest.

January 17, 1945
Wallenberg was last seen in the company of Soviet soldiers; he said: “I do not know whether I am a guest of the Soviets or their prisoner;” he has not been seen as a free man since.

January 27, 1945
Soviet troops enter Auschwitz concentration camp.

The State of Israel is established.

The state of Israel passes a law to honor those who rescued Jews during the Holocaust; a commission was established to recognize Righteous Among the Nations.  Yad Vashem Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Memorial Museum is created.

Street named after Carl Lutz in Haifa, Israel.

Lutz recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.

Wallenberg awarded Righteous Among the Nations medal.

Lutz dies in Switzerland at the age of 80.

US Congress gives Raoul Wallenberg honorary citizenship.

June 1987
Friedrich Born receives the Righteous Among the Nations award.

Giorgio Perlasca honored with the Righteous Among the Nations award.

Soviet Union presented Wallenberg family his diplomatic passport.

July 1991
Monument to Carl Lutz dedicated in the former ghetto of Budapest.

Giorgio Perlasca dies in Italy at age 82.

April 1993
Georg Mandel Mantello dies in Rome at the age of 90.

Street in Bern named after Carl Lutz.

Peter Zürcher awarded Righteous Among the Nations medal.

The Visas for Life exhibit is shown at the Ellis Island Museum of Immigration.  It features, among others, the role of Raoul Wallenberg and the many other diplomats who rescued Jews in Budapest, Hungary.

July 20, 2014
Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg is awarded a Congressional Gold Medal given to him by the United States Congress in recognition of his heroic activities in aiding thousands of Jews in Budapest, Hungary.  Wallenberg’s sister is in attendance and receives the medal for the family.

844 Hungarians have been honored by the State of Israel for rescuing Jews during the Holocaust.

The Wallenberg family declares that Raoul Wallenberg is dead.  They still intend to determine his fate.





[1] Bauer & Rozett, in Gutman, 1990, Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, s.v. “Estimated Losses in the Holocaust,” pp. 1799-1800; Benz, in Laqueur, 2001, The Holocaust Encyclopedia, s.v. “Death Toll,” p. 145, states 559,250 lost; Braham, 1981; Cohen, in Laqueur, 2001, The Holocaust Encyclopedia, s.v. “Hungary,” pp.317, 320-321 states 564,000 lost, 64,000 lost before the German occupation; Hilberg, 1985, p. 1220

[2] Reuveni, in Bender & Weiss, 2007, Encyclopedia of the Righteous among the Nations, s.v. “Hungary: Historical Introduction,” pp. lxiv-lxviii; Bender & Weiss, 2007, Encyclopedia of the Righteous among the Nations, s.v. “Hungary,” pp. 173-344