Raoul Wallenberg

Question:

I am searching for info about a person, possibly from Sweden, who, as a diplomat stationed in a Nazi-held country, assisted persons fleeing the Nazi death camps. This person ended up behind the iron curtain, as he was taken into custody by the Russians, never to be heard from again. Apparently some reports came out from behind the curtain that some had seen him while in prison. Any assistance you could provide here would be fantastic!

Andrew Mathis answers:

I am one of the volunteers who answers questions for the Holocaust History Project.

The man you speak of is Raoul Wallenberg, a non-Jewish Swedish diplomat who was assigned to Budapest, Hungary, while the Jews of that country were being deported en masse to Auschwitz in 1944. Numbers vary, but he is credited with saving at least 20,000 (but perhaps as many as 50,000) Hungarian Jews from definite extermination by issuing them false Swedish passports.

Wallenberg was abducted by the Soviets in 1945, when they occupied Hungary, and according to official KGB documents liberated after the fall of the USSR, he died in the Lubyanka Jail in Moscow in 1947. However, survivors of the infamous Gulag Archipelago have reported seeing Wallenberg there many decades later. At the very least, Wallenberg's fate remains a mystery -- in particular, why he was arrested by the Soviets in the first place.

The principal agent seeking to determine Wallenberg's true fate is the Israeli government, who wishes to honor Wallenberg by giving him a proper burial in Jerusalem, as they did Oskar Schindler. However, there has no been no new information on Wallenberg's fate since 1991. The Putin government is no more likely to provide further information on Wallenberg, particularly since Putin is a former KGB agent himself.

Andrew E. Mathis, Ph.D.

Andrew Mathis follows up:

Hello!

You wrote to the Holocaust History Project some time ago regarding Raoul Wallenberg.

Today, some new information regarding Wallenberg's fate appeared in Israel's English-language daily, the Jerusalem Post.

I'll quote the pertinent parts of the article and give you the URL to the entire article at the end:

[begin quotes]

A joint Swedish-Russian committee investigating the fate of Raoul Wallenberg for the past nine years has concluded that he was either executed by the Soviets, or made to disappear as a prisoner in a Soviet gulag, a Swedish diplomat told The Jerusalem Post yesterday.

[...]

While the committee's report, which will be published in November, fails to determine conclusively what happened to Wallenberg, it does establish that Wallenberg did not die a natural death, rebuffing claims that the Russian had made for years that Wallenberg died of a heart attack in 1947 while in a Soviet prison.

"Unfortunately, as it seems at this moment, we will be unable to determine the facts one way or the other. Such is the unsatisfactory state of affairs, but that is the reality of the situation," Ambassador Jan Lundvik, head of the Swedish investigation team, said in a phone interview from Stockholm.

[...]

"The committee's report, while revealing "a great amount of new information," will not "solve the mystery" of Wallenberg's fate, Lundvik said. "There are a number of indications that he died in 1947, but there are other reports that he lived longer. This poses a difficult problem, and so we will probably report both sets of facts, and conclude that we cannot determine one way or the other," Lundvik said. The Swedish press has been rife with speculation that Wallenberg was indeed murdered by the Russians.

Last month, the Israeli Foreign Ministry sent a special emissary to Moscow, former ambassador Yohanan Bein, to inquire into the committee's progress.

Bein, who met with the Russian head of the joint committee investigating Wallenberg's fate as well as the Russian Deputy Prime Minister, told the Post that he was especially encouraged to see "a change on the Russian's policy which especially stood out." Bein said the purpose of his mission was to demonstrate to the Russians and the Swedes that Wallenberg's fate is not just of interest to them, but that Wallenberg - by his noble and outstanding efforts for the Jewish people - will be indelibly linked to Israel and the Jewish people forever."

[end quotes]

Here is the URL for the entire article:

http://www.jpost.com/Editions/2000/07/27/News/News.10214.html

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,

Andrew E. Mathis, Ph.D.

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