His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg

Posted: October 18, 2012 in Biography, Middle school books, YA Literature
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His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg, by Louise Borden

I tend to favor books for younger readers, so here is a compelling history book that ends in mystery, for middle school readers and older. Photos, documents, and maps accompany this account of the man who assisted Hungarian Jews in avoiding concentration camps during World War II– Raoul Wallenberg. Wallenberg was a Swede, college educated in the U.S., and a diplomat. He created faux documentation– the schutzpass (“schutz for protection/ and pass for passport,” p. 66)– an official-looking document that protected thousands of Hungarian Jews. When it became too difficult to issue the individual passes, even with a staff of 115 people and passes sometimes issued in the field, Wallenberg devised a collective schutzpasse which was issued to more than one person. Wallenberg’s own story ends in mystery. He was arrested by the Soviets and taken to Lubianka Prison in Russia, where the story grows cold. He was reported to have died, but other first-person accounts claim differently. His fate has never been verified.

Louise Borden is known for meticulous research, and an Author’s Note including photos of Borden in Sweden and with people who knew Wallenberg supports her detailed investigations. The book is written in free verse– a somewhat unusual style for informational books– but I found the writing allowed me to savor each line and fostered comprehension. I recommend this book for middle school and up.


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