The final deportations of Hungarian Jews were hindered as the Russian Army approached Auschwitz in October 1944. To beat the Russians to Auschwitz, The German Arrow Cross Fascist militia ordered Jews to begin death marches from Budapest to the Austrian border.

Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat in Budapest, single-handedly saved thousands of the Jews destined for Auschwitz. He issued them Swedish passports and thus placed them under the protection of the Swedish government, which was respected as a neutral country.

Wallenberg also set up "safe houses" for Jews in Budapest: places flying the flags of Sweden and of the Swiss Red Cross. Everyone living in these buildings was protected by diplomatic sovereignty, and therefore the Nazi SS and the Arrow Red Cross militia could not arrest them. Nearly 33,000 Jews found refuge in these "safe houses."

Jews living in the Budapest ghetto, however, were not under the protection of the Swedish government. Thousands of unprotected Jews in Budapest were shot and their bodies thrown into the Danube. The surviving 125,000 Jews were saved only when the Russian Army captured Budapest on January 18, 1945.

The work of Raoul Wallenberg remains an unforgettable act of moral heroism. Nevertheless, despite his efforts, nearly 565,000 Hungarian Jews perished during the Holocaust.