Not all war heroes carry weapons and wear a uniform. A few work quietly, behind the scenes, in nondescript offices, where they work to save lives knowing that every day that today could be the day they pay for it with their own life. This is how it was for Swedish diploment Raoul Wallenberg. Stationed in Budapest, Hungary during the Nazi occupation there, he worked tirelessly to save the lives of thousands of Jews at the risk of his own life.
Sweden’s Virtual Embassy in Second Life has recreated Raoul Wallenberg’s office, seen on this picture, as he left it the day he was captured by the Soviets in January 1945 The office is furnished sparsely, with the only decorations a photograph of Wallenberg at three with his mother, Swedish King Gustav V, a map of Budapest on the opposite wall, and a Budapest tourism poster, the only item of color in the office and also the only item hung crookedly..
The entrance to Raoul Wallenberg’s office is suitably somber. You enter from the brightly lit, modern Swedish Virtual Embassy but walk through a room that is totally black, taking you back in time to the siege of Budapest. Be sure to play the streaming media in the office. You will hear the sounds of Soviet and German forces battling over the city. It was a long and bloody battle, 102 days long, and left 38,000 civilians dead. The picture on the left shows the view out the window over Wallenberg’s typing table, showing shattered and burned buildings.
Wallenberg saved thousands of Jews from German concentration camps, but when the end came, it was the Soviets, not the Germans, who captured him. After capturing Budapest from the Germans, the Soviets seized Wallenberg and placed him in Lubyanka Prison. He was never freed, and disappeared into the Soviet penal system. The Soviets announced that he was executed in 1947, but there were claims by Soviet prisoners of seeing him alive as recently as 1991.