Swedish Diplomats Who Rescued Jews

Per Anger,* Swedish Attaché in Budapest, Hungary, 1944-45

Per Anger was the Secretary of the Swedish Legation in Budapest, Hungary in 1944-1945.  Anger, along with Minister Carl Ivan Danielsson, kept the Swedish legation open in Hungary and worked closely with their diplomats and volunteers.  Anger designed and distributed an early form of Swedish protective paper.  Anger also personally intervened on behalf of Jews who were being deported to the Nazi death camps.  On other occasions, Anger rescued Jews from Nazi death marches leaving Budapest.  Consul Anger is credited with saving thousands of Jews from the spring of 1944 until the end of the war in May 1945. Per Anger was awarded the Righteous Among the Nations title by the State of Israel in 1980.  He became an honorary citizen of Israel in 2001.  For more than 50 years, Per Anger worked tirelessly on behalf of the memory of Raoul Wallenberg.  Anger died in 2002.

Lars Berg,* Swedish Consul in Budapest, Hungary, 1944-45

Lars Berg was part of the diplomatic mission to Budapest, Hungary.  Along with his Swedish diplomatic colleagues, he was responsible for saving Jews from Nazi and Arrow Cross deportations and murder.  Berg authored a book on the Swedish legation’s mission entitled, What Happened in Budapest (Stockholm: Forsners Förlag, 1949).  He was honored by Yad Vashem with the title Righteous Among the Nations in 1982 for his actions. 

Count Folke Bernadotte, Swedish Red Cross, Germany, 1945

Count Folke Bernadotte (1895-1948) was Vice President of the Swedish Red Cross in Germany in 1945.  He was nephew to King Gustav V of Sweden.  In the Spring of 1945, Bernadotte negotiated with SS commander Heinrich Himmler for the release of thousands of people held in Nazi concentration camps.  These included over 400 Danish Jews imprisoned in Theresienstadt.  Later, he negotiated and arranged for the release of 10,0000 women from the Ravensbrück and Bergen Belsen concentration camps.  He arranged for special busses, converted to ambulances, known as the “white busses,” to take them from the camps.  They were eventually transported safely to Sweden.  Bernadotte wrote about his wartime activities in a book entitled, The Curtain Falls.  In 1948, he was appointed to the position of Mediator for the Security Council of the United Nations in Palestine.  Bernadotte negotiated a temporary truce between Arab and Jewish armies.  He was assassinated by the Jewish underground on September 17, 1948, while serving in this position.  After the war, the Israeli government apologized to his family.  [Bernadotte, Folke, Count. The Fall of the Curtain: Last Days of the Third Reich. (London: Cassell, 1945).  Marton, Kati. A Death in Jerusalem. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1996).]

Göte Carlsson, Swedish Consul in Budapest, Hungary, 1944-45

Göte Carlsson was a Swedish diplomat stationed with the Swedish legation in Budapest in 1944-1945.  Along with Per Anger, Lars Berg and Raoul Wallenberg, he was active in rescuing Jews from the Nazi and Arrow Cross. 

Carl Ivan Danielsson,* Swedish Minister (Ambassador) in Budapest, Hungary, 1944-45

Carl Ivan Danielsson was the Swedish Minister in Budapest in 1944-1945.  As head of the Swedish mission to Budapest, Danielsson was responsible for the rescue and protection of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews.  He was responsible for the overall mission and ultimately the success of the Swedish legation.  For his actions, he was awarded the Righteous Among the Nations medal by Israel in 1982.

Niels Eric Ekblad, Swedish Consul in Denmark, 1943

Consul Niels Eric Ekblad was sent by the Swedish government to report on the action of the Germans in the impending deportation of Danish Jews in October 1943.  Ekblad accompanied German diplomat Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz to a clandestine meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson.  Ekblad relayed advance warning from Duckwitz to the Swedish government.  At the Swedish embassy in Copenhagen, Ekblad issued many passports to Danish citizens.  [Werner, Emmy E. A Conspiracy of Decency: The Rescue of the Danish Jews during World War II. (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2002), pp. 33-36, 39, 41. Ekblad, Niels Eric. Aufzeichnung über gewisse Ereignisse im Zusammenhang mit der deutschen Aktion gegen die dänishen Juden um den 1 Oktober 1943. (Hamburg, January 22, 1958; Jerusalem: Yad Vashem Archives, File #027/13).]

Gösta Engzell, Head of Legal Division of the Swedish Foreign Office, Stockholm, Sweden, World War II

Gösta Engzell headed the Legal Division of the Swedish Foreign Office throughout the war.  He was the individual most responsible for the positive switch in the Swedish government’s official policy and response to the murder of European Jews.  He convinced the Swedish government to help Jews in Nazi controlled territories.  He empowered diplomats in Norway, Denmark and later in Budapest.  He was responsible for empowering Swedish diplomats Carl Ivan Danielsson and Per Anger to issue Swedish protective papers to Budapest Jews.  By the end of the war, Swedish action on behalf of Jews in Europe, almost always initiated or supported by Engzell and his staff, contributed to the rescue and relief of 30,000-40,000 Jews. [Levine, P.A., p. 212, in Cesarani, D., & Levine, P.A., 2002]

Christian Guenther, Swedish Foreign Minister

In the autumn of 1943, Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Christian Guenther negotiated for the release of Danish and Norwegian prisoners held in German camps.  This eventually led to the release of thousands of prisoners to the Swedish Red Cross under the supervision of Folke Bernadotte in March and April 1945.  [Friedman, Philip. Their Brothers’ Keepers: The Christian Heroes and Heroines Who Helped the Oppressed Escape the Nazi Terror. (New York: Holocaust Library, 1978), pp. 171-172. Levine, Paul A. From Indifference to Activism: Swedish Diplomacy and the Holocaust: 1938-1944. (Uppsala, Sweden: 1998), pp. 115, 145, 163, 167, 181, 185, 217, 220, 222, 224, 226, 234-241, 249. Yahil, L. “Scandinavian Countries to the Rescue of Concentration Camp Prisoners.” Yad Vashem Studies, 6 (1967), pp. 196, 201-202.]

Legation Consul Gyllenram, Swedish Consul in Vichy France, 1942-43?

[Levine, Paul A. From Indifference to Activism: Swedish Diplomacy and the Holocaust: 1938-1944. (Uppsala, Sweden: 1998), p. 125.]

Einar Hennings, Swedish Diplomat in Vichy France, 1942-43?

Einar Hennings, a former kabinettssekreterare [cabinet secretary], met with French Vichy leader Pierre Laval and presented a personal protest to prevent the deportation of Russian citizens to Germany.  He also protested against ongoing Jewish deportations.  Hennings provided reports to the Swedish Foreign Ministry regarding actions against Jews. [Levine, Paul A. From Indifference to Activism: Swedish Diplomacy and the Holocaust: 1938-1944. (Uppsala, Sweden: 1998), pp. 125, 159, 178.]

Sandor (Alexander) Kasza-Kasser,* Secretary General of the Swedish Red Cross in Hungary, 1944-45

In April 1944, Kasser was appointed by Valdemar Langlet to be the Secretary General of the newly formed Swedish Red Cross in Budapest.  As a volunteer, Kasser was given the responsibility to organize for Langlet the administration of the Swedish Red Cross in Hungary.  Kasser designed the Swedish Red Cross protective papers.  Initially, about 400 of these protective papers were issued to Jews in Budapest.  He provided Jewish refugees with jobs in the Red Cross and he rented hospitals, which were used to hide Jews. Kasser worked extensively with Raoul Wallenberg on numerous rescue missions to save Jews from Arrow Cross roundups and from death marches.  He received the Righteous Among the Nations award form the State of Israel in July 1997.

Elow Kihlgren,* Swedish diplomat stationed in Italy

Awarded Righteous Among the Nations status in 2001.

Dr. Valdemar Langlet* and Nina Langlet,* Swedish Red Cross Delegates in Budapest, Hungary, 1944-45

On June 11, 1944, Carl Danielsson, Swedish Minister in Budapest, requested the Hungarian government allow the Swedish Red Cross to join the Hungarian Red Cross in feeding and housing thousands of orphaned Jewish children.  Dr. Langlet launched a humanitarian campaign immediately, working with the Hungarian Red Cross.  Langlet and his wife issued and distributed Swedish protective passes to Hungarian Jews, which prevented them from being deported or murdered by the Arrow Cross or Nazis.  Valdemar and Nina Langlet were honored as Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel in 1965.

Asta Nilsson, Representative of the Swedish Red Cross, Budapest, 1944-45

Asta Nilsson was a relative of King Gustav of Sweden.  In 1944, Nilsson volunteered for an extremely dangerous mission in Budapest, Hungary.  Nilsson worked with the Swedish Red Cross with Valdemar and Nina Langlet.  In Budapest, Nilsson was active in saving and protecting Jewish children.  When the Arrow Cross raided some of the children’s protected institutions, they arrested Nilsson and took her to the Arrow Cross headquarters.  She was later released with the intervention of Raoul Wallenberg.  [Lévai, 1948, p. 392.]

Raoul Nordling, Swedish Consul General in Paris, France, 1944-45

Swedish Consul General Raoul Nordling had smuggled to safety scores of French men and women, some of whom were Jewish, who were threatened with arrest by the Nazis.  Nordling was also responsible for negotiating with the German commander of Paris in 1944 to prevent him from carrying out Hitler’s order to destroy Paris.

Leif Öhrvall, Sweden

[Levine, Paul A. From Indifference to Activism: Swedish Diplomacy and the Holocaust: 1938-1944. (Uppsala, Sweden: 1998), pp.141-145, 171-176.]

D. Rentenswärd, Swedish Representative in Romania, 1943?

Mr. Rentenswärd made efforts to help Jews in Transylvania, Romania, during the deportations.

[Dworzecki, Meir, “The International Red Cross and its Policy Vis-à-Vis the Jews in Ghettos and Concentration Camps in Nazi-Occupied Europe,” in Gutman, Y., and E. Zuroff (Eds.). Rescue Attempts during the Holocaust: Proceedings of the Second Yad Vashem International Historical Conference, Jerusalem, 3-11 April, 1974. (Jerusalem, 1977), pp. 71-110.]

Arvid Richert, Swedish Minister in Berlin, October 1943

Arvid Richert was the Swedish Minister in Berlin in October 1943.  In response to the proposed deportation of Danish Jews in October 1943, Richert submitted an official proposal to the German Foreign Ministry that would place Danish Jews as refugees in camps in Sweden.  The Germans never answered the proposal.  The Swedish government announced that it would accept Danish Jewish refugees.  Soon, 9,000 Danish Christians and 7,000 Danish Jews reached Sweden.  Later, 100 Finnish Jews were brought to Sweden.  [Reitlinger, Gerald. The Final Solution: The Attempt to Exterminate the Jews of Europe, 1939-1945. (New York: The Beechhurst Press, 1953), pp. 350-351.]

Imre Tahy, Swedish Chargé d’Affaires in Bern, Switzerland, 1944

Imre Tahy was the Councillor of the Swedish legation in Bern, Switzerland.  He sent a letter of protest regarding the treatment of Jews in Hungary to the Hungarian government.  [Lévai, Jenö. Black Book on the Martyrdom of Hungarian Jewry. (Central European Times Publishing, 1948), pp. 233, 308-311.]

Gustaf von Dardel, Swedish Ambassador to Denmark, 1943?

Gustaf von Dardel was the Swedish Ambassador to Denmark in 1943.  He helped to save Jews during the action of October 1943.  Von Dardel notified the Swedish government in Stockholm about the impending deportations.  In addition, von Dardel arranged for various aspects of the rescue operation.  [Werner, Emmy E. A Conspiracy of Decency: The Rescue of the Danish Jews during World War II (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2002), pp. 33, 41.]

Dénes Von Mezey, Swedish Consul in Budapest, Hungary, 1944-45

Dénes Von Mezey was a consular officer at the Swedish legation in Budapest, Hungary. He participated in the rescue of Jews. [Braham, Randolph L. The Politics of Genocide: The Holocaust in Hungary. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1981). Anger, Per. Translated by David Mel Paul and Margareta Paul. With Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest: Memories of the War Years in Hungary. (New York: Holocaust Library, 1981), pp. 48, 85, 132, 135, 139. Asaf, Uri. Christian support for Jews during the Holocaust in Hungary. In Braham, Randolph L. (Ed.) Studies on the Holocaust in Hungary, pp. 65-112. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), p. 90.]

Göran von Otter, Swedish Consul in Berlin, 1942?

Swedish Consul Göran von Otter received secret information from German SS Lieutenant Kurt Gerstein regarding the gassing of Jews at the Belzec death camp in eastern Poland.  Gerstein personally witnessed the gassing of Jews. This is perhaps the first time that a first-hand, reliable report of the German death camps was received by a western power.  Von Otter passed the information on in a report to the Swedish Foreign Ministry.  It was not publicized and remained buried in the Swedish records.  [Levine, Paul A. From Indifference to Activism: Swedish Diplomacy and the Holocaust: 1938-1944. (Uppsala, Sweden: 1998), pp. 127-129, 163, 179-180, 215, 218-219, 225-226, 243.]

Erik von Post, Swedish diplomat

[Levine, Paul A. From Indifference to Activism: Swedish Diplomacy and the Holocaust: 1938-1944. (Uppsala, Sweden: 1998), pp. 116, 139, 144, 149-153, 177, 218, 222, 227, 252-253.]

Raoul Wallenberg,* Secretary of the Swedish Legation in Budapest, Hungary, 1944-45

Raoul Wallenberg volunteered as a civilian employee of the American War Refugee Board in 1944.  He was credentialed as a diplomat by Sweden and arrived in Budapest on January 9, 1944.  His mission was to save as many Budapest Jews as possible.  Raoul Wallenberg redesigned the Swedish protective papers.  Wallenberg issued Swedish diplomatic papers to thousands of Hungarian Jews.  He prevented the Nazis from deporting and murdering Jews in the death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau.  With his staff of Jewish volunteers, Wallenberg rescued thousands of Jews who were being forced on death marches.  He also established dozens of safe houses throughout Budapest.  He tirelessly protected the safe houses from Nazi and Arrow Cross raids.  In January 1945, Raoul Wallenberg was arrested by the Russians and disappeared. He was honored as Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel in 1963.  In 1981, Wallenberg was bestowed the title of honorary citizen of the United States, at that time, an honor reserved only for Winston Churchill.  In addition, he has been honored all over the world for his life-saving activities.  After 60 years of investigation, his whereabouts or fate in the hands of the Soviet Union has never been proven.

Claes Adolf Hjalmar Westring, Swedish Consul in Oslo, Norway, 1943

Claes Adolf Hjalmar Westring was able to secure the release of 50 Norwegian Jews in Oslo in February 1943. In November 1942, the Germans began large-scale deportations of Jews in Norway.  This event made the front page of Swedish newspapers.  Swedish minister Gösta Engzell ordered diplomats to protect Jews who might have some connection with Sweden.  The Swedish Foreign Ministry demanded information regarding the deportations against Jews who were either Swedish or had Swedish relatives.  They demanded the release from internment camps of those who had already been rounded up.  Sweden told the German government that they were “prepared to accept all remaining Jews in Norway should they be subject to removal.” [See Holocaust Encyclopedia, Yale University, pp. 615-616. Levine, P.A., p. 212, in Cesarani, D., & Levine, P.A., 2002.  Gutman, Yisrael (Ed.). Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, 4 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1990), p. 1438. Levine, Paul A. From Indifference to Activism: Swedish Diplomacy and the Holocaust: 1938-1944. (Uppsala, Sweden: 1998), pp. 123, 135, 145-147, 165, 167.]

Swedish Embassy in Bucharest, Romania, 1944

After August 1944, officials at the Swedish embassy in Bucharest issued safe-conduct passes to numerous refugees from Hungary. [Braham, Randolph L. (Ed.) Hungarian-Jewish Studies. (New York: World Federation of Hungarian Jews, 1966), pp. 203-204.]

Swedish Minister to Rome

The Swedish Minister in Rome was not officially accredited to the Vatican, but had credibility with the Holy See.  He encouraged the Pope to make a public statement condemning the raid and deportation of Roman Jews in October 1943.  [Morley, John. Vatican Diplomacy and the Jews during the Holocaust, 1939-1943. (New York: Ktav, 1980), pp. 183-184.]

Julius Hüttner, Consul General for Costa Rica station in Gotterburg

Julius Hüttner may have been Swedish and serving as an honorary consul.  This information needs to be confirmed.  He also may have been Jewish.

Volunteers/Employees Who Worked With Swedish Diplomats in Budapest

Margarete Bauer, Secretary, Swedish Legation, Budapest, 1944-45

Margarete Bauer worked directly for the refugee section of the Swedish embassy in Budapest.  She was responsible for processing thousands of the protective papers.  On occasion, she was responsible for delivering these protective papers directly to refugees.  On one occasion, she was arrested by the Arrow Cross, along with Asta Nilsson.  She was freed by Friedrich Born. [Lévai, 1948, p. 392.]

Mrs. István Csányi

Mrs. István Csányi worked under the guidance of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg.  Working with Gedeon Dienes, she saved hundreds of Jews from death marches and the Obuda brickyards by supplying them with Swedish protective papers.

Gedeon Dienes

Gedeon Dienes worked under the guidance of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg and Swedish Red Cross representatives Dr. Valdemar and Nina Langlet.  Dienes saved hundreds of Jews from death marches and the Obuda brickyards by supplying them with Swedish protective papers.  He became involved in rescue efforts by taking Jews to hiding places and delivering Red Cross protective papers.  On one occasion, Dienes distributed over 100 protective papers to Jews in a slave labor battalion.

Elisabeth Kasza-Kasser, Volunteer with the Swedish legation in Budapest, Hungary, 1944-45

Elisabeth Kasza-Kasser was a volunteer for the Swedish legation in Budapest, 1944-45.  On many occasions, she was the personal interpreter for Raoul Wallenberg on his numerous missions to save Jews from Nazi and Arrow Cross deportation.

Mária Kóla, Swedish Red Cross, Budapest, 1944-45

Mária Kóla worked with Dr. Valdemar and Nina Langlet of the Swedish Red Cross.  They did everything in their power to protect Jews who were being robbed and deported by the Arrow Cross.  This was particularly important after the summer of 1944.

Simón Margel, Clerk in the Consulate General of Argentina in Budapest and Employee of the Swedish Legation in Budapest

Simón Margel was a Polish Jew and a refugee in Hungary who worked as a Clerk in the Argentine Consulate General in Budapest.  After the Nazi persecutions of Jews began in 1944, Margel requested permission to immigrate to Argentina.  The Consul General at the time refused to give Margel protection or immigration documentation.  Margel then volunteered as an employee of the Swedish legation in Budapest.  From his position in the Swedish legation, he issued more than 250 diplomatic protective papers to “presumed Argentine Jews.”  The Argentine Foreign Ministry later condemned Margel for “overstepping his authority.”

[Feierstein, Daniel and Miguel Galante. “Argentina and the Holocaust: The conceptions and policies of Argentine diplomacy, 1933-1945.” Yad Vashem Studies, 27 (1999), 188-189.]

Géza Szentes, Volunteer with Raoul Wallenberg, Budapest

Géza Szentes and his wife volunteered on rescue missions with Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg.  He was named Righteous Among the Nations in 1973.

Thomas Veres, Volunteer for Raoul Wallenberg, Budapest, Hungary, 1944-45

Thomas Veres was a volunteer for Raoul Wallenberg at the Swedish legation in Budapest, 1944-45.  Veres was also the driver and translator for Wallenberg.  He took many of the photographs showing Wallenberg on his rescue missions in Budapest.

Hugo Wahl
Béla Forgás
Vilmos Forgás

To carry out the rescue operations, Raoul Wallenberg, Per Anger, Lars Berg and Danielsson set up an organization that included 355 employees, 40 physicians, two hospitals, and a kitchen.  Most of these employees and volunteers were Jews or Jews who converted to Christianity to escape deportation.  Hugo Wahl, Béla Forgás and Vilmos Forgás played an important role with the Swedish legation and worked as intermediaries between Hungarian authorities and the Swedes. [Braham, 1981, pp. 1087-1088.]


*Recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, The World Holocaust Remembrance Center, Jerusalem, Israel


Updated November 5, 2017