From the testimony of Miriam Herzog
“The conditions were frightful. We walked 30 to 40 kilometers a day in freezing rain, prodded all the time by the Hungarian gendarmes. All of us were women and girls; I was 17 at the time. The gendarmes were brutal, beating those who could not keep up, leaving others to die in the ditches….I didn’t have a Swedish passport, but I thought it was worth a try and I had this tremendous will to survive, even though I was so weak from dysentery and wretched from the dirt and lice that infested me, that all I could do was find a space on the floor and lie down.
Suddenly I heard a great commotion among the women. ‘There’s Wallenberg,’ they said. I didn’t think he could really help me, and anyway I was too weak to move. So I lay there on the floor as dozens of women clustered around him, crying ‘Save us’. I remember being struck by how handsome he looked and how clean – in his leather coat and fur hat, just like being from another world – and I thought: ‘Why does he bother with such wretched creatures like us?’ As the women clustered around him, he said to them ‘Please, you must forgive me, but I cannot help all of you. I can only provide certificates for a hundred of you.’ Then he said something which really surprised me. He said, ‘I feel I have a mission to save the Jewish nation’.
He looked around and began putting names down on a list, and when he saw me lying on the floor, he came over to me. He asked my name and added it to the list. After a day or two, the hundred of us whose names had been taken were moved out and put into a cattle car on a train bound for Budapest. There were a lot more danger and hardship for us, but were alive…..”