Thursday, August 2, 2012

Raoul Wallenberg, 1912-??

This weekend we'll mark the 100th birthdate of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands, and probably tens of thousands of the Jews of Budapest in 1944. Here's a good synopsis of his story.

The ISA isn't the best place to go for documents about Wallenberg, since he lived, and probably died, before the creation of the State of Israel and his activity was elsewhere. Still, given his importance we did a spot of digging and came up with some documents. The first two, here and here, are telegrams from Nazi diplomats in Budapest, Otto von Erdmannsdorff and his boss Edmund Wesenmayer, from December 1944. Apparently someone in the Swedish embassy in Berlin had been asking if anyone had been threatening Wallenberg. Their answer: well, yes, Eichmann had, because Wallenberg was interfering with the efforts to deport the city's Jews, but his intention had been to frighten Wallenberg off, not to harm him. (These documents were collected from German sources in preparation for the Eichmann trial of 1961).

A month after Wesenmayer's telegram the Nazis were gone from Budapest, and Wallenberg had disappeared forever. He was arrested by Soviet troops, who seem to have been following the "arrest first and maybe somebody else might ask questions later and if not who cares" method.

Then there are these two telegrams from Moshe Er'el, Israel's ambassador to Sweden in the mid-1980s, reporting about efforts to find Wallenberg, if he's still alive in the Soviet Union, and if not to learn when he died. (The Soviets, according to Er'el, were still insisting he had died in 1947; Er'el was skeptical.

1 comment:

  1. R.W. was a true hero in any sense of the word! It is time American school returned to telling the truth about oppressive regimes lest we repeat the past! I doubt the Russians will ever tell the truth about what happened to Raoul Wallenberg. A few years ago, it was popular to keep asking the question, but the question of his whereabouts were ignored then, just as they will be now or in the future.