NEW YORK – A rare protective passport signed by Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg and used to transport Hungarian Jews into Sweden during World War II was sold for $13,310 after attracting four bids at an auction in Los Angeles.
Wallenberg, who was fluent in Hungarian, saved the lives of thousands of Hungarian Jews during WWII by issuing fake protective passports, which claimed Jewish individuals being deported to concentration camps were actually Swedish citizens awaiting repatriation. This was part of a relief effort put together by the United States.
The passports were often accepted by German and Hungarian authorities. Jews holding these passports were treated as Swedish citizens and were exempt from wearing Jewish yellow star badges.
Wallenberg was captured in early 1945. Little is known about what may have happened to him, but many believe he was seized by the Soviets and died some years later in a Russian labor camp.
The passport sold on Thursday was offered during an auction organized by Nate D. Sanders Auctions, which specializes in documents and autographs.
It was issued on September 22, 1944, in Budapest by the Royal Swedish Embassy and was signed by Raoul Wallenberg.
The document, written in Hungarian on Royal Swedish Embassy/ Budapest letterhead, confirms that the recipient has been awarded Swedish citizenship and respectfully asks that he be granted “immunity against the discriminatory [yellow star] mark.”
It measures some 20 centimeters by 15 centimeters and has a single vertical fold, with separation starting at its ends.
Bidding for the passport began at $8,000 and attracted four bidders before being sold. Nate D. Sanders Auctions would not disclose the identity of the buyer.