There were thousands of largely forgotten heroes of the second world war, particular individuals who displayed enormous courage in the face of acute danger in Nazi occupied countries where the safest thing to do was to keep your head down and keep your mouth shut. There were fewer greater heroes than the Swedish diplomat, Raoul Wallenberg who, with other neutral Swedes saved thousands of Jews in Nazi occupied Hungary from extermination. Hungary was initially allied to Germany in the war and the Hungarian government sent thousands of men to fight alongside the German army when they invaded Russia in June 1941 but later in the war, as was the case in Vichy France, the Germans occupied the country and set up their own puppet regime. As with countries they occupied earlier in the war, one of the first things the Nazis did in Hungary was to round up Jews and transport them to Auschwitz in huge numbers to be murdered. In fact during mid 1944 the gas chambers were at the busiest they ever were during the war when the last great Jewish population that had previously escaped the attention of the Nazis because they were living in Hungary were transported there after the Germans took over Hungary. Most Hungarian Jews were gassed and on some days 20,000 per day were murdered and only a few that were transported managed to survive.
Raoul Wallenberg and other Swedes worked tirelessly in Budapest to save as many Jews as possible by issuing papers placing them under the protection of neutral Sweden and for a time they worked with Adolf Eichmann who headed the Nazi anti-Jewish operation in Hungary who for reasons of his own decided to do this. Wallenberg saved many Jews before it became increasingly difficult and dangerous. On one occasion he personally rescued hundreds of Jews who had been loaded onto a train that was due to depart to Auschwitz later that day.
As the Germans began to lose the war and the Red Army moved westwards and eventually liberated Hungary, Wallenberg thought his task was completed, that he was safe and he could return home to Sweden but tragically this did not happen. Instead he became one of the last victims of the Holocaust and one of the first victime of the cold war between Russia and the West. An enduring mystery was created about his fate that to this day has never been satisfactorily explained.
Richard Chamberlain turns in a superb performance as Wallenberg and the conditions in Nazi occupied Hungary are brilliantly reconstructed in the film. After you have watched the film you will inevitably wonder what happened to Wallenberg but for that question to be answered you will have to look elsewhere.