P. Levine: Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest

01-05-2010, by Tanja Schult,

… As in his dissertation, Levine bases his research on documents from the Swedish Foreign Ministry. He stresses the importance of traditional diplomatic negotiations for the rescue of the persecuted Jews, the decisive role of the general political developments in Budapest, and, above all, the imminent end of the war. He explains how the Swedish diplomats in Budapest 1944–45 depended on decisions made by their superiors in Stockholm and highlights the role of Gösta Engzell, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Legal Division during the war. Levine furthermore wishes to draw attention to other, less known rescuers.
Despite all this, he also underscores that personal qualities and actions not approved by, or typical of, diplomatic protocol played a significant role in the Swedish Legation’s successful efforts to protect around 120 000 Budapest Jews. -> More
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What Happened to Wallenberg: Russia’s Chilling Revelation

26-04-2010, by Amy Knight, ed. New York Review of Books

Amy Knight writes at the New York Review of Books « The FSB would not take such a significant step in the Wallenberg case without the approval of the Russian leadership. It is probably no coincidence that the FSB’s revelation about Wallenberg has been followed by the Kremlin’s recent recognition of the 1940 Katyn massacre, in which the Soviet secret police executed more than 20,000 members of the Polish armed forces. In addition to allowing a Polish documentary about this terrible Soviet atrocity to be shown on Russian state television, the Russian government has for the first time acknowledged the historical significance of Katyn, in Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s comments at the 70th anniversary commemoration of the massacre in early April. (A subsequent event, that was to have involved the Polish and Russian presidents, was horrifically overshadowed by the crash of the Polish delegation’s plane, though there is some hope that the tragedy will result in stronger Polish-Russian relations.)

Given the Kremlin’s blatant disregard for historical truth about the Soviet era, especially since Putin became president in 2000, this openness comes as a surprise. As recently as September 2007, at Putin’s behest, then FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev handed over purported archival documents on Wallenberg to the Chief Rabbi of Russia, Berel Lazar, for inclusion in a proposed Museum of Tolerance. Among the documents was the fake report saying Wallenberg had died of a heart attack.

The motivations behind the Kremlin’s recent shift remain unclear: perhaps it wants to obtain economic concessions from Europe, or perhaps there is a broader recognition by Russian leaders that coming clean about the Stalin period will bring them respect from the West and make it easier to advance Russian foreign policy aims. But surely the documentation about Prisoner No. 7 in the interrogation register did not appear out of the blue; there should be a larger file. And if Wallenberg was ultimately sent to a prison away from Moscow, there might be documentation in the archives of the MVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs). It’s time for the Swedish government (and perhaps the Americans and other Western leaders) to press the Kremlin leadership directly for answers. » -> More

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Letter to 5 Ministers about Prisoner nr 7

15-04-2010, by Max Grunberg,

Your Excellencies,

The Reference Group for Support to Independent Research on Raoul Wallenberg, established by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Sweden in April 2002 in order to advise the Ministry on research grants, has established the following guidelines for evaluating applications in terms of relevance of subjects proposed for research:

The main purpose of research studies should be to produce conclusive evidence regarding Raoul Wallenberg’s ultimate fate and, if he is still alive, enable him to return to Sweden.”

In light of the recent developments re: prisoner NR 7 (see enclosed letter Raoul Wallenberg, prisoner nr.7), it is of critical importance that we act immediately to conclusively resolve Raoul Wallenberg’s fate. Our work must commence without delay, as somewhere in the world there may still be individuals (witnesses) with factual information on the whereabouts of Raoul and/or to whom information detailed in the Russian archives might point. The urgency of this request cannot be overstated, since the witnesses we are attempting to find are most likely in their 80s or 90s and their life expectancies are obviously limited. Although such a person is most likely too old today in order to follow the media, nevertheless we know from experience that elderly people, before they die, very often like to reveal a secret – most likely they will tell this secret to a child, grandchild, or a (younger) friend. It is likely that this child, grandchild or a (younger) friend follows the media… -> More
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Paul A Levine: ”Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest. Myth, History and Holocaust »

14-04-2010, by Ingrid Carlberg, ed. Dagens Nyheter

Ingrid Carlberg skriver för Dagens Nyheter; « I Sverige har mycket av det som skrivits om Raoul Wallenberg handlat om tiden efter den här ödesdigra januaridagen. Uppmärksamheten har kretsat kring efterforskningarna och mer eller mindre sannolika vittnesmål inifrån Gulag. Förvånansvärt få svenska historiker och författare har gripit sig an berättelsen om hans gärning i Budapest, i alla fall med något större sakdjup. Faktum är att de flesta böcker om personen Raoul Wallenberg har skrivits och publicerats utomlands, i första hand i USA.

Därför är Paul A Levines bok om Raoul Wallenberg i Budapest efterlängtad. Levine väljer att sätta punkt i januari 1945. Han koncentrerar sig i huvudsak på de sex månader som amatördiplomaten Raoul Wallenberg hann tillbringa i Budapest före fångenskapen. Levine ger också sin bild av bakgrunden till att just Raoul Wallenberg sattes att leda en i Förintelsens elfte timme framhastad, och synnerligen okonventionell, svensk amerikansk räddningsaktion för de ungerska judarna. > More

Raoul Wallenberg and his killers

04-04-2010, by Vladimir Abarinov, ed. Svobodanews

Google translation from russia. Rearranged by Maribeth Barber.

Raoul Wallenberg. Was prisoner number 7?

Radio Liberty published a letter from independent researchers Vadim Birstein and Suzanne Berger, a qualitatively new turn in the case of Raoul Wallenberg. Additional details of the case – in a conversation with one of the authors of the letter Vadim Birstein.

Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg saved the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews in 1944 by issuing  protective passports to so-called « Swedish subjects » awaiting repatriation to their homeland. After the capture of Budapest by Soviet troops, he was arrested and taken to Moscow, where he was kept in the MGB inner prison in the Lubyanka. For many years, Stockholm unsuccessfully tried to discover the prisoner’s fate. In February 1957, Moscow officially made it known to the Swedish government that Wallenberg had died of a myocardial infarction on July 17, 1947, in Lubyanka Prison.  In support of this version the Soviets presented a document–a report from the chief of the medical unit inside the prison, Smoltsov, addressed to Interior Minister Viktor Abakumov. This version did not satisfy the Wallenberg family, which holds high social status in Sweden.

In 1990, Vadim Birstein and current chairman of the Memorial Society, Arseny Roginsky, gained access to some of the archival collections of the MGB-KGB. In April 1991, I, as editor of the international department of the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta, published an article by Vadim Birstein « The Mystery of the Prisoner number seven« , which presented the preliminary results of the study and questioned the official Soviet account of Wallenberg’s death. Subsequently, Moscow and Stockholm agreed to continue the work of the bilateral commission. However, in 2001, the Commission concluded that the search ended in a stalemate, and ceased to exist.

> More

The Angel of Faith

04-04-2010, by Ari Bussel, ed. The News Blaze

Ari Bussel writes at News Blaze; « For his 97th birthday, just a few months ago, the leading Swedish daily newspaper had an investigative piece to report to the Swedish nation and the world: Israelis are harvesting organs of Palestinians (males whom they kill). Purportedly, some of the very descendants of those who were sent to Auschwitz and other extermination camps, those whose lives were destined to the crematoriums for being sub-humans, filth that needed to be eradicated, were now engaged in similar atrocities. Yet, it is not Israel that lost her humanity – the Jewish people have emerged from the Holocaust and still carry the flame of humanity today, alone in the world. Rather, it is Sweden who has not changed its character since World War II, single individuals notwithstanding.

How can a nation, from which a Raoul Wallenberg had arisen, forget, six and a half decades after his heroic actions, what took place? How can Sweden defend, in the name of freedom of speech or press, the vile accusations setting forth the basis for the next Holocaust? Why bother at all to continue highlighting the deeds of one person, Raoul Wallenberg, when the main message that resonates from Sweden to its own next generation is that of innate hatred toward the Jews and their infestation of the Middle East, that any action against the Jews is permissible even after the Holocaust?

Have we learned nothing?

Today, as I walked past the Raoul Wallenberg statue, I circled it again and again. The sun was at an angle, and I provided my own interpretation. He was here as a reminder to me, not of the Swedes or most other members of the United Nations, another organization that sprouted from the ashes of the Holocaust. Rife with honorable intentions and goals, the UN now serves in the arsenal of the Muslim countries in their quest to eradicate Israel and the Jews.

Raoul Wallenberg is a personal reminder: If we are ever in a position of power (relative or absolute), we must always use that power and position to do good. Power is given or bestowed on us not for our own pleasure or abuse, but so we can use it wisely and channel it to benefit others. » -> More
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Wallenberg kan ha räddat fler judar

01-04-2010, by Leif Svensson, ed. Dagens Nyheter
Leif Svensson från DN skriver att i Judiska museets arkiv i Budapest hittade Sessler en pärm plus tre listor från svenska legationen med namn på judar som fått skyddspass. Dokumenten är original och försedda med legationens stämpel.
– Ingen forskare har sett de här listorna och ingen har kontrollräknat namnen. Pärmen innehåller 447 sidor, där antalet namn på varje sida överstiger 14. Det blir närmare 7 000 pass, konstaterar Georg Sessler, som dock ännu inte kontrollräknat alla sidor.
I utrikesdepartementets (UD) arkiv i Stockholm finns kopior av pärmens innehåll, men enligt Sessler är de inte numrerade, varför ingen reagerat på antalet namn.
– Detta innebär att de officiella siffror som lämnades till de ungerska myndigheterna på 3 700-4 000 skyddspassinnehavare i verkligheten varit dubbelt så höga, anser han.
Jan Lundvik, pensionerad ambassadör, bland annat i Budapest, och under många år ansvarig för efterforskningar i Wallenbergfallet hos UD, tror att fynden i Judiska museets arkiv i Budapest kan bidra till att fylla kunskapsluckor.
– Det här är naturligtvis mycket intressant och kommer att ge oss en viktig pusselbit när det gäller att rekonstruera ambassadens och legationens aktiviteter. Men i vilken utsträckning det leder till en omvärdering av tidigare uppfattningar av antalet skyddspass går inte att säga förrän vi fått läsa Georg Sesslers rapport och granska tidigare uppgifter i ljuset av de nya, säger Jan Lundvik.

Jan Lundvik, pensionerad ambassadör, bland annat i Budapest, och under många år ansvarig för efterforskningar i Wallenbergfallet hos UD, tror att fynden i Judiska museets arkiv i Budapest kan bidra till att fylla kunskapsluckor.
– Det här är naturligtvis mycket intressant och kommer att ge oss en viktig pusselbit när det gäller att rekonstruera ambassadens och legationens aktiviteter. Men i vilken utsträckning det leder till en omvärdering av tidigare uppfattningar av antalet skyddspass går inte att säga förrän vi fått läsa Georg Sesslers rapport och granska tidigare uppgifter i ljuset av de nya, säger Jan Lundvik. ->More
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31-03-2010, by S. Berger, V. Birstein,

Dear Mrs. von Dardel, dear Marie and Louise,

We are writing to you to share the information enclosed below. As you know, over the last few years, we have continued an often slow but productive exchange with the archives of the Federal Security Services of the Russian Federation (FSB). The latest round of discussions, in November 2009, have yielded a resounding surprise. In a formal reply to several questions regarding Russian prison interrogation registers from 1947, FSB archivists stated that « with great likelihood » Raoul Wallenberg became « Prisoner No. 7″ in Moscow’s Lubyanka prison some time that year. The archivists added that « Prisoner No. 7 » had been interrogated on July 23, 1947 which – if confirmed – would mean that the Soviet era claims of Wallenberg’s death on July 17, 1947 are no longer valid. Never before have Russian officials stated the possibility of Raoul Wallenberg’s survival past this date so explicitly.

The Swedish Ambassador, Tomas Bertelman, and his staff responded quickly to the new information. In a letter addressed to Yuri Trambitsky, head of the FSB’s Central Archive, dated December 9, 2009, Bertelman asked Mr. Trambitsky for clarification, writing that « if this hypothesis is confirmed, it will be . . . almost sensational. »

We have also sent a detailed follow-up request to FSB officials, asking for more precise information about « Prisoner No. 7, » including procedural details pertaining to the assignment of numbers to prisoners under investigation, as well as possible steps to be taken to verify « Prisoner No. 7’s » identity and his fate after July 23, 1947. So far, Russian officials have not presented any additional information for their claim that « Prisoner No. 7 » could be identical with Raoul Wallenberg.

We stress that an in-depth verification of the new information has to take place before any final conclusions can be drawn, but if indeed confirmed, the news is the most interesting to come out of Russian archives in over fifty years. > More

Holocaust victims, heirs sue 5 Hungarian banks at US court

27-03-2010, ed. MTI

« MTI writes that a group of Holocaust survivors and heirs filed a lawsuit in Chicago on Thursday against several banks, including banks based in Hungary, demanding compensation of more than 2 million dollars. According to the plaintiffs, the National Bank of Hungary, the Erste Group Bank, the MKB Bayerische Landesbank and OTP Bank or their predecessors participated in the Holocaust, they were accomplices and instigators by appropriating the assets of Jewish victims »… « The plaintiffs,  who call themselves « Holocaust victims of bank theft » in the document submitted to the Illinois Northern District Court, also demand criminal compensation on top of the 2 million dollars plus interest »…. » In February this year, a similar lawsuit was filed against Hungarian state railways MAV, demanding compensation for the company’s involvement in deporting Jews during WWII. » …. »demand compensation worth a total of 240 million dollars. Based on nine years of research, they claim that MAV provided its carriages « being fully aware » that these would be used to transport 437,000 Jews to the gas chambers in Auschwitz between March and October 1944… »
-> More

Dr. Vera Parnes

25-03-2010, by Louise and Marie Dupuy,

Dr. Vera Parnes has just passed away. Vera Parnes  was a very active women both in her professional work as to promote Raoul Wallenberg.

She was born in Mosow, she had a scientific degrees include a Ph.D., Candidate of Medical Studies in the field of Microbiology, a Doctor of Medical Sciences. She was on the first place and inspriring for teaching in schools about Raoul Wallenberg’s struggle for human rights.

In the 90’s she opened a Raoul Wallenberg museum in Moscow. When she left Soviet union to Canada she founded the Raoul Wallenberg International Movement for Humanity (RWIMH) in San Franscisco and later Montreal. She was also an active fighter for several projects aimed to promote Raoul Wallenberg’s recognition, including the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial and Raoul Wallenberg Square in Montreal, Raoul Wallenberg Day in Canada, and Raoul Wallenberg’s honorary citizenship in Budapest .

Other projects are a Guide for the Raoul Wallenberg lesson in Canadian schools; a Raoul Wallenberg stamp in Canada, and a Raoul Wallenberg Day in Sweden, Israel, Hungary and Russia. She is a long-term petitioner for Wallenberg’s honorary citizenship in Russia (first suggested in 1990) and Hungary (first suggested in 1994) and is a cofounder (with Jozsef Sebes) of the Hungarian affiliate of RWIMH.

She had close contact with Raoul Wallenberg’s brother, Guy von dardel who had a big respect for her work. Guy von Dardel said she was the first one who created an association for Raoul Wallenberg. And she had the courage to do it in her small appartment in Moscou, at a time where this was not without risks. Stubbornly, she went on wherever she was, finding all sorts of new ways to create consciousness around the story of Raoul. She went on for decades and never gave up. She was a great lady.
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We are very grateful for all the good she has done.
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