From a letter by Itzhak Jacobi to Yad Vashem, January 1995
I have a personal story that is connected to Wallenberg. In December 1944 I was in a forced labor camp in Hungary close to the Austrian border. Some of the people in the camp had established contact with the [Jewish] Rescue Committee in Budapest, and they had obtained Swedish protective papers for us. The officers that were guarding us went along with this arrangement and we were taken to Budapest on foot – a route of 120 Km. They put us in a camp and told us that we were under the protection of the Swedish Embassy. However two days later, the people of Salasi [the Arrow Cross leader] came and took our papers from us. Accompanied by Arrow Cross men they took us, under blows and curses, to the railway station. At the railway station was a train with many box cars. The SS men ordered us to board the train. There was an incredible confusion and people shouting all over, because they had brought people who were not considered Jews and who had long ago converted to Christianity. These were people who didn’t have to wear the Jewish star, but now had to get on the trains. They began to shut the doors. They hadn’t yet reached my boxcar and I stood near the opening and looked outside along the train. I could see all the cars because the train was stationed in a curve.
Suddenly I saw a black car arrive. A man wearing a black coat stepped out. He approached the senior SS officer, waved lists that he was holding in his hand and yelled. I couldn’t hear the yelling and talking between them, but some minutes later the officer took the lists and began to call out the names near each wagon. He said: ‘those whose names will be read, step off the train and stand next to the man with the black coat.’ He went past each wagon until all the people on the list disembarked. They then closed the train doors and the train left Budapest. We were told this had been the last train that left the city, because on the very same day the Russians had encircled the town from all sides. We reached Austria, and many perished there. I survived because I ran away from the camp.
After the war when I learned about the Wallenberg affair and saw his picture, I became certain that it was the man I had seen next to the train, and who managed to get several tens of people off the transport. If there is such a title as Righteous Among the Nations, this dear man, Wallenberg, whose life ended so tragically, no doubt is worthy of it.