Born: 1923, Budapest, Hungary
Describes photographing Wallenberg's efforts to rescue Jews in Budapest from deportation [Interview: 1992]
The train station had about ten thousand, fifteen thousand...uh...men--Jews ready for deportation. They were the ones who were surrounded from Budapest, the labor camps who were still at that time, end of November, sent to Germany by train. Later on it was on foot. This time it was by train, for deportation. And [Raoul] Wallenberg was there, and set up...uh...a little table, and I went to him and he whispered to my ear, "Tom, take as many pictures as you can." I didn't want to ask him (laughter), "Will you pose?" or anything, you know...how.... So I...I had my coat on me and I had a shawl and I always have a pocketknife with me and I made a slit in the shawl and prearranged the camera setting on my Leica, and I just threw the shawl...I...I...I did bring just the lens out and started, through the shawl, shooting. Sometimes I was sitting in his car and shooting from the car. And sometimes I just went around looking...you know...left or right like nothing happened and...and take the pictures.
After the Germans occupied Hungary in 1944, Tom was ordered to work in labor camps and factories. He escaped after a few months and decided to contact the Swedish legation, where he met Raoul Wallenberg in October 1944. Tom stayed in Budapest and, using his training in photography, became active in Wallenberg's efforts to rescue the Jews of Budapest. He made copies of and took photographs for protective passes (Schutzpaesse), and documented deportations.
US Holocaust Memorial Museum - Collections