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In late November, the great retreat from Budapest towards the west had begun. Leading Nazis and their families fled in cars and trucks loaded with loot stolen from Jews, racing for time against the encircling forces of the Red Army.
Escaping Nazis also herded Jewish labour units towards the Austrian border. Thus, the infamous Death March began. Thousands of Jewish men without food, water or adequate winter clothing, were forced to march on the Budapest-Vienna highway. They slept on the side of the road, and ate the odd potato or root dug out of the frozen earth with their bare hands. Each day, hundreds dropped dead from exhaustion, or were shot by the soldiers guarding them. This was indeed a death march, without any purpose or destination. The mad Hungarian Nazis could no longer exterminate the remaining Jews all at once, so they sentenced them to slow death.
It was from these columns of doomed that the Swedish envoy Raoul Wallenberg rescued people. Wallenberg was a businessman who was sent to Budapest to help the Jewish population however he could. He personally rescued thousands of people, never stopping, never giving up, right up to the last days of the war.