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Beyond Raoul Wallenberg: Swedish Relief for Budapest’s Children from WWI to WWII

Referentin: PD Dr. habil. Friederike Kind-Kovács
08/01/2024 - 17:15
Universität München

Description of the event

Usually, when exploring Swedish relief in Hungary in the 20th century, Raoul Wallenberg figures as the most widely known Swedish relief worker, having rescued almost 10,000 Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust. The Swedish Relief Worker Asta Nielsson, on the other hand, is entirely forgotten. And I want to know why? Asta Nielsson not only provided relief in the post-WWI period, but she returned with Wallenberg in 1944 to Budapest where she set up a Swedish child rescue action for Jewish children. The action came to be known as the „Asta Nielsson Children’s Action” and contemporaneous sources speak of 3000 children that were rescued. Meanwhile Asta Nielsson faced huge criticism from some of her coworkers for the way in which she implemented her relief work and how she mismanaged money of the Swedish Red Cross. In the end, she was neither recognized as Righteous among the Nations in Yad Vashem nor does she figure in historical research today. Against this backdrop, it seems worth to investigate her work in Budapest, as her engagement for Budapest’s children stretches from the aftermath of the First World War through the period of the Hungarian holocaust to the post-WWII period. By centering on one single relief worker, the talk sheds light on the transnational humanitarian activities of Rädda Barnen, the Swedish chapter of Save the Children, as well as the Swedish Red Cross legation to Budapest.

More information can be found here.

Photo: An Eyewitness to Swedish Aid in Budapest” [ögonvittne om svenska hjälpen i Budapest]," Göteborgs Handels- och Sjöfarts-Tining, 24. April 1945, 93.

Politik bakom lektorns bok hindrar envoyén sjunga ut, Swenska Morgonbladet 20, No. 2 (1946)