Last week-end when I was guided through the city of Budapest by the most wonderful person, Mrs. Alice Breuer, who was rescued twice by Raoul Wallenberg in 1944 and 1945.
The week-end was very touching and joyful. Among many of the bright memories was when Alice treated me to the Budapest Opera as a birthday gift (I happened to have a very odd numbered birthday during my visit).
The second time Alice was rescued by Raoul Wallenberg, she was one of the people lined up on the bank of The Danube River to be shot or drowned by the Nazis. When only about 10 people were ahead of her in the line, Raoul showed up and saved her and about fifty more people in the group in one of his bold missions. All this happened while the Russians shelled the riverbank from the other side of the river with mortars and rockets.
This happened late in the evening of January 16th, 1945 and Alice asks herself over and over again: ”Why did Raoul expose himself to all those perils until the very last minute?” The next day Raoul was taken away, and Alice was ”liberated”, by the Soviet Russians.
The city council of Budapest has made a very moving monument commemorating this horrible event. It is also a monument over what must have been Raoul Wallenberg’s last liberation task before the Russians broke in on the Pest side of the city the following morning. On the site where Alice and other Jews were lined up to be shot and thrown into the river, you now find this overwhelming monument of one of the many horrible crimes conducted by the Nazis – and of Raoul Wallenberg’s heroism.
Alice later escaped to Austria from the Communist tyranny in Hungary. She graduated from the University of Innsbruck as a Medical Doctor and then specialized in psychiatry at the University of Uppsala in Sweden. She has since been one of Sweden’s most prominent psychiatrists – and thus healed thousands of unhappy and sick people.
Besides, Alice brightens up anyone’s life with her warm personality, kindness, generosity, wits and good sense of humour.
*Ben Olander is a Swedish folk musician who presents his songs dedicated to raoul Wallenberg in schools accompanied by stories about Raoul Wallenberg’s rescue operations. To learn more about his work, visit www.ben-olander.com