JCC honors non-Jewish Holocaust hero

by Stacy

WEST ASHLEY, S.C. (WCIV) -- His name graces the West Ashley street the Charleston Jewish Community Center calls home. Though Raoul Wallenberg wasn't Jewish himself, he's credited with saving the lives of around 100,000 Hungarian Jews during World War II.

"Raoul Wallenberg showed something really important, that one person can make an enormous difference, without any diplomatic background, without any particular education," said the University of Denver's Jonathan Adelman.

Professor Adelman traveled from Denver to speak at the JCC in commemoration of what would've been Wallenberg's 101st birthday. Wallenberg was a Swedish businessman who found himself in Hungary during the Holocaust, Adelman said. He gained diplomatic status and did what he thought was right.

"He would get on trains bound for Auschwitz and stop the trains. He handed out thousands of fake Swedish passports which gave them the right to not be sent to the camps and survive the war," Adelman said.

Sandra Brett with the Charleston JCC said Wallenberg set an example. His messages of cooperation and helping others are still applicable in today's world.

"That's something that's very important for us here in Charleston, that the Jewish community and the non-Jewish community work together for common goals," Brett said.

Experts believe the Russians thought Wallenberg was an American spy at the end of the war. He died in Soviet captivity.


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