In Memoriam: Ambassador Per Anger
The staff of Holocaust and Genocide Studies reports with great sadness the passing of Ambassador Per Anger on August 25, 2002, at the age of 88. Anger is credited with saving thousands of Hungarian Jews, and he worked tirelessly (if unsuccessfully) to find his friend and colleague Raoul Wallenberg—personally appealing to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1989 for help in determining Wallenberg's fate.
Born in Gothenburg, Sweden, on December 7, 1913, Per Anger studied law at the universities of Stockholm and Uppsala. Between June 1941 and March 1942, he worked on Swedish-Hungarian relations within the trade section of the Swedish Foreign Ministry, and he was appointed second secretary at the Swedish legation in Budapest in June 1942. After Germany invaded Hungary on March 19, 1944, Anger devised a provisional passport and initially distributed at least seven hundred of them to Hungarian Jews. Although these documents were of dubious legal standing, the Swedish Embassy reached an agreement with the Hungarian authorities providing for owners of such passports to be considered Swedish citizens and thus safe from deportation. As the deportation problem worsened and demand for the passports increased, the legation called for help. On July 9, 1944, Raoul Wallenberg arrived in Budapest. He immediately extended Anger's initiative, introducing colorful protective passes (Schutzpasse) and creating "safe houses" throughout the city. Anger and Wallenberg worked together, often literally snatching people from transports and death marches. After the Soviets invaded in January 1945 Anger was taken into custody but released three months later. Wallenberg, however, was taken prisoner on January 17, 1945, and never emerged again.
Anger returned to Sweden in 1945 and continued his diplomatic career
in countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Austria, and the United
States. In 1970 he became the head of Sweden's international aid
program. In later years he served as ambassador to Australia, Canada, and
the Bahamas. In 1982 Yad Vashem recognized Anger as a "Righteous Among the
Nations," in November 1995 he received the Hungarian Republic's Order of
Merit, and in 2000 he was awarded honorary Israeli citizenship. In June
2001 the American Swedish Historical Museum presented him the "Spirit of
Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Award," and in April 2002 Swedish Prime
Minister Göran Persson awarded Anger the "Illis Quorum Meruere
Labores" for his actions during and after the war. In 1996 the United
States Holocaust Memorial Museum published an updated edition, with a
foreword by Congressman Tom Lantos, of Per Anger's first-hand testimony,
entitled With Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest: Memories of the War Years
in Hungary. A Hungarian edition, published in association with the
Museum, followed in 1999.