Surprised Again – New Documentation about Raoul Wallenberg’s Cellmate Surfaces

01-08-2011, by Susanne Berger and Vadim Birstein,

Willy ROEDEL from Dieter Roedel's archive

The recent publication of two statements written for Soviet interrogators by Willy Rödel, Raoul Wallenberg’s cellmate in Soviet captivity, are the clearest sign yet that Russian archives still contain critically important documents in the Wallenberg case.

* Russian authorities are believed to have intentionally withheld at least fifity-seven pages from Rödel’s file

* The missing documentation most likely contains important information about Raoul Wallenberg

Since the beginning of the Swedish-Russian Working Group in 1991, researchers have tried to obtain as much information as possible about Raoul Wallenberg’s fellow prisoners during his time in Soviet captivity. Over the years, the Russian side provided a number of documents about Willy Rödel, Wallenberg’s long-term cellmate in Moscow Lefortovo prison from 1945-1947. However, we were never allowed to see these papers in the original, nor were we allowed to examine the file from which they had supposedly originated. Officials of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB, successor of the KGB) also routinely insisted that no records of Rödel’s interrogations had been preserved.

Therefore, we were enormously surprised when we came across a new book with a very long title, “Secrets of the Third Reich Diplomacy: German Diplomats, Leaders of Foreign Military Missions, Military Policemen and Police Attaches in Soviet Captivity. Documents from Investigation Files. 1944-1955”, just published in Russian as part of a series of publications by Aleksander Yakovlev Foundation (Moscow). It contains full texts of interrogation protocols of and statements written by a number of German diplomats captured by the Soviets at the end of WWII, including two statements from none other than Oberfuehrer SA Willy Rödel ! The included documents were selected, compiled, and commented on by two FSB archivists, Dr. Vasilii Khristoforov and Vladimir Makarov. In fact, Lt. General Khristoforov heads the FSB Directorate of Registration and Archival Fonds to which all FSB archives belong, including the FSB Central Archive from which we received answers to our research questions in the Wallenberg case, while Makarov is a researcher at this archive.

The two statements by Willy Rödel date from December 26, 1944 and January 14, 1945, respectively, before Rödel shared a cell with Raoul Wallenberg. Rödel, a former Political Adviser to the German Ambassador Manfred von Killinger in Bucharest, became Wallenberg’s cellmate in March 1945, mostly in Lefortovo Prison, one of three Moscow state security investigation facilities. The two men were held together at least until about March 1947, when both were transfered (separately) to Lubyanka Prison.

In the now released statement made in January 1945, Rödel describes the activities of Sturmbannfuehrer SS Gustav Richter, Police Attache at the German Embassy, Bucharest and a German consultant of the Romanian government on the so-called “Jewish question”. This is an interesting fact, since Soviet investigators placed Raoul Wallenberg in Richter’s cell in Lubyanka Prison, shortly after his arrival in Soviet captivity in February of 1945. While it does not have any bearing on our current discussion, the mere existence of Rödel’s statements in the FSB archives is more than noteworthy.

Khristoforov and Makarov indicate that the originals of Rödel’s two statements are kept in file PF-9653 at the FSB Central Archive. It appears that this file was also the source for materials that were presented to the Swedish Working Group back in April 1993, when Russian officials turned over a set of documents about Willy Rödel.

The documentation offered by Mr. Khristoforov’s predecessor, Konstantin Vinogradov, included Rödel’s prisoner card, an envelope containing personal items, such as his passport, a full copy of his death certificate and an autopsy report. The documents indicate that Rödel was held in Lubyanka Prison until October 1947, when he suddenly died of a heart failure (which is extremely suspicious) during a transfer to the Krasnogorsk Camp for POWs in the Moscow suburbs. > More

The Importance of Raoul Wallenberg – A Swedish Human Rights Hero

27-07-2011, by Olle Wästberg, ed. The Global Herald

“One man can make a difference.”

No one is so strong – for good or evil as a man with a goal and a conviction.

This is written in the aftermath of the monstrous terrorist murder in Norway. These murders, committed through evil conviction, ended or changed the lives of hundreds of people.

“One man can make a difference.” That is the sentence written over the front door of the Raoul Wallenberg School in Brooklyn, New York  – one of many schools honouring Raoul Wallenberg, a man who showed that good conviction could save thousands of lives.

Raoul Wallenberg was the young Swede sent to Budapest in the end of WW2 in order to use passports from neutral Sweden to protect Jews threatened with immediate deportation to the death camps.

He was a young man from a wealthy family, ready to risk his life for human beings he had never met and had no relation to. He and his collaborators saved tens of thousands of Jews. That has made Raoul Wallenberg – who on the 4th of August 2012 would have been one hundred years old – a symbol of unselfishness and courage.

Swedish shipments to Nazis may have been ransom for captured Swedes

29-06-2011, by I. Magner and S. Berger, ed. The local, Sweden's news in English

Historical documents related to the capture of seven Swedes by the Gestapo in Poland in 1942 puts Sweden’s subsequent ball bearing deliveries to Nazi Germany in a new light, argue historians Susanne Bergerand Ingela Magner.

A new review of document collections in the Swedish National Archives (Riksarkivet) shows that the arrest of the seven « Warsaw Swedes » by the Gestapo in Poland in 1942 not only seriously jeopardized the men’s lives but posed an existential threat to Swedish Match companies and other Swedish businesses throughout Eastern Europe.

The men’s release two years later was apparently secured not only through painstaking negotiations but payment of some type of compensation to Nazi Germany that included war materials.

The new information also casts Sweden’s wartime deliveries of ball bearings to Berlin in a new light.

After Germany invaded Poland in 1939, a group of Swedish businessmen from Swedish Match (STAB), LM Ericsson and ASEA joined the Polish underground and became its vital link to the Polish-government-in exile in London.

As feared, the activities of the so-called “Warsaw Swedes” were betrayed and in 1942 the Gestapo came calling.

Seven men were put on trial before the German High Court which on July 1, 1943 issued a stark verdict: four were sentenced to death, one to life in prison. Only two were acquitted but remained in custody.

In late 1943, the death penalty ruling was converted to life in prison, but the last of the men were not released until late November/December 1944.

Why the long delay?

That is the question former Swedish diplomat Göran Engblom addressed in a slim volume published in 2008.

The book called « Himmlers Fred » (‘Himmler’s Peace’) and published by Sekel offers an intriguing thesis.

Engblom argues that SS Chief Heinrich Himmler used the case of the ‘Warsaw Swedes’ as a way to gain concessions from Sweden to help him facilitate contact with Allied representatives in an effort to secure a separate peace agreement for Germany.

The Swedish businessmen’s arrest in 1942 had set off a tense two and a half year tug of war between Sweden and Germany, led on the Swedish side by Jacob Wallenberg (head of STAB’s Board of Directors), Alvar Möller, (director of STAB’s operations in Germany), Axel Brandin (STAB’s director in Sweden) and the Swedish Legation in Berlin. ->More

Mysteriöses Schicksal eines Retters

27-06-2011, by JÜRGEN RAHMIG, ed. Reutliger General-Anzeiger
…Der »Gefangene Nr. 7«
Aus Kreisen des heutigen russischen Geheimdienstes FSB hieß es, dass der Schwede mit größter Wahrscheinlichkeit irgendwann im Jahr 1947 zum »Gefangenen Nr. 7« im Lubjanka-Gefängnis in Moskau geworden war. Und dass »Nr. 7« dort am 22. Juli 1947 von 18.50 Uhr bis 19.25 Uhr verhört worden sei. Am 23. Juli 1947 sei er erneut, dieses Mal über 16 Stunden lang, verhört worden. Das ist von Bedeutung, weil der damalige sowjetische Vizeaußenminister Andrej Gromyko am 6. Februar 1957 in einer schriftlichen Erklärung an den schwedischen Botschafter aus einem angeblichen »Archivdokument aus der Krankenstation« vom 17. Juli 1947 zitiert, wonach der »Gefangene Wallenberg heute Nacht plötzlich in seiner Zelle« verstorben sei. Wer wurde dann verhört?
Im Januar 1961 wiederum erfuhr die schwedische Professorin Nanna Svartz auf einem internationalen Medizinerkongress in Moskau von ihrem russischen Kollegen Mjasnikow, dass dieser den Fall Wallenberg kenne. Er behauptete, der Patient befinde sich in einem sehr schlechten Zustand. Die Gerüchteküche kochte weiter. Dies führte 1964 zu einer Erklärung des stellvertretenden Außenministers Orlov gegenüber dem schwedischen Botschafter in Moskau, dass keine Zweifel daran bestünden, dass Wallenberg am 17. Juli 1947 im Lubjanka-Gefängnis verstorben sei.
Wie lange lebte er noch?
Auch die russische Seite einer schwedisch-russischen Arbeitsgruppe hielt in ihrem im Januar 2001 vorgelegten Abschlussbericht fest, dass Wallenbergs Tod im Juli 1947 erwiesen sei. Doch in Schweden wollte man das nicht akzeptieren. Stattdessen wurde angenommen, dass Wallenberg womöglich noch 1961 und danach gelebt habe.
Wie erwähnt, waren Wallenberg und Langfelder Ende 2000 offiziell von Russland rehabilitiert worden. Der Generalstaatsanwalt erklärte dabei, Wallenberg und Langfelder seien widerrechtlich festgenommen und aus politischen Gründen ihrer Freiheit beraubt worden. Das Schicksal des »schwedischen Schindler« wird sich nur dann klären lassen, wenn die Archive geöffnet werden. Nach derzeitigem Stand spricht viel dafür, dass Wallenberg noch nach 1947 vermutlich unter anderer Identität in sowjetischen Straflagern weitergelebt hat. (GEA)

Der »Gefangene Nr. 7«
Aus Kreisen des heutigen russischen Geheimdienstes FSB hieß es, dass der Schwede mit größter Wahrscheinlichkeit irgendwann im Jahr 1947 zum »Gefangenen Nr. 7« im Lubjanka-Gefängnis in Moskau geworden war. Und dass »Nr. 7« dort am 22. Juli 1947 von 18.50 Uhr bis 19.25 Uhr verhört worden sei. Am 23. Juli 1947 sei er erneut, dieses Mal über 16 Stunden lang, verhört worden. Das ist von Bedeutung, weil der damalige sowjetische Vizeaußenminister Andrej Gromyko am 6. Februar 1957 in einer schriftlichen Erklärung an den schwedischen Botschafter aus einem angeblichen »Archivdokument aus der Krankenstation« vom 17. Juli 1947 zitiert, wonach der »Gefangene Wallenberg heute Nacht plötzlich in seiner Zelle« verstorben sei. Wer wurde dann verhört?
Im Januar 1961 wiederum erfuhr die schwedische Professorin Nanna Svartz auf einem internationalen Medizinerkongress in Moskau von ihrem russischen Kollegen Mjasnikow, dass dieser den Fall Wallenberg kenne. Er behauptete, der Patient befinde sich in einem sehr schlechten Zustand. Die Gerüchteküche kochte weiter. Dies führte 1964 zu einer Erklärung des stellvertretenden Außenministers Orlov gegenüber dem schwedischen Botschafter in Moskau, dass keine Zweifel daran bestünden, dass Wallenberg am 17. Juli 1947 im Lubjanka-Gefängnis verstorben sei.
Wie lange lebte er noch?
Auch die russische Seite einer schwedisch-russischen Arbeitsgruppe hielt in ihrem im Januar 2001 vorgelegten Abschlussbericht fest, dass Wallenbergs Tod im Juli 1947 erwiesen sei. Doch in Schweden wollte man das nicht akzeptieren. Stattdessen wurde angenommen, dass Wallenberg womöglich noch 1961 und danach gelebt habe.
Wie erwähnt, waren Wallenberg und Langfelder Ende 2000 offiziell von Russland rehabilitiert worden. Der Generalstaatsanwalt erklärte dabei, Wallenberg und Langfelder seien widerrechtlich festgenommen und aus politischen Gründen ihrer Freiheit beraubt worden. Das Schicksal des »schwedischen Schindler« wird sich nur dann klären lassen, wenn die Archive geöffnet werden. Nach derzeitigem Stand spricht viel dafür, dass Wallenberg noch nach 1947 vermutlich unter anderer Identität in sowjetischen Straflagern weitergelebt hat. (GEA) ->More

Report about the work of the Swedish-Russian Working Group on disappeared Swedish ships during the Cold War

08-06-2011, by S. Berger and K. von Seth,

INCOMPLETE RECORD

The investigation conducted by a joint Swedish-Russian Working Group about Swedish ships lost during the Cold War leaves many important questions unanswered.

Review shows that Poland informed Sweden about discovery of the wreck of the ship « Dan » in 1993

The Swedish Foreign Ministry has not disclosed the information publicly because the official Swedish-Russian Working Group formed in 1993 to investigate the disappearance of Swedish ships during the Cold War never produced a final report. Surprisingly, Swedish officals did not seek independent verification of the find, explore the cause of the sinking or ask Polish authorities about the fate of the crew. The newly discovered information also raises questions about other Swedish vessels that vanished off the coast of Poland from 1946-1955.


In August 1993 the Polish Foreign Ministry informed an official Swedish-Russian Working Group examining the cases of about seventeen Swedish vessels that had disappeared during the Cold War that the wreck of a ship that matches the description of the « DAN » had been discovered already in 1957 in Polish territorial waters. [Document 1] According to internal UD documents, the « Wreckbook » of the Polish Navyshows that the boat was found 3.5 km north of Jastrzębia Góra and was partially lifted already in 1964. The memo further states that since the debris was discovered at the bottom of the sea, it was assumed that the crew had gone down with the ship and that there were no survivors (UD Arbetspapper, 2001-9-27.) The suspected cause of the sinking was a mine. The « Dan » had originally been believed to have gone missing with a seven person crew somewhere outside of Latvia.

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Nya rön: Sveriges eftergiftspolitik mot Nazityskland gick för långt

28-01-2011, by A. Forsström, ed. DN

Den svenska eftergiftspolitiken mot Nazityskland gick för långt. Det hävdar historieprofessorn Klas Åmark i boken ”Att bo granne med ondskan” som utkommer i februari. Boken har tillkommet på ett regeringsuppdrag.

I dag 27 januari är det förintelsens minnesdag. Och trots att det är precis 66 år sedan Auschwitzlägrets portar öppnades för offentlighetens ljus så kastar sig fortfarande en skugga över Sverige. Nazisterna kom till makten i Tyskland redan 1933 och terrorn mot oliktänkande och rasismen började flera år före kriget. Vad visste myndigheter och regering? Kunde Sverige gjort någon skillnad? Och vad är det med den här tiden som fortfarande fascinerar?

– Jag tror det handlar om att allt sätts på spel. Existensen. Möjligheten att överleva. Grundläggande mänskliga rättigheter. Under andra världskriget hänger allt på ett hår. Det är dramatiskt och avgörande, säger Klas Åmark, numera pensionerad historieprofessor.

År 2000 gav den socialdemokratiska regeringen Vetenskapsrådet uppdrag att i ett forskningsprogram kartlägga Sveriges förhållande till nazismen, Nazityskland och förintelsen. Sedan 2006 har Klas Åmark arbetat med projektet att skriva och sammanställa ett verk, som är tänkt som den första breda, vetenskapligt väl underbyggda genomgången av Sveriges historia både före och under andra världskriget.

– Av flera skäl valde Sverige tystnad inför våldet och terrorn. Men bor man granne med ondskan räcker det inte för en demokrati att tiga, säger Klas Åmark.

Boken visar bland annat på effekterna av regeringens handels- och presspolitik och hur den svenska flyktingpolitiken i snabb förändring gick från sträng restriktivitet till stora, aktiva räddningsaktioner.

– Den nya forskningen om andra världskriget visar att den nazistiska politiken var värre, mer omfattande och systematisk än vad tidigare forskning visat, och det gäller inte bara gentemot judar utan mot flera andra länder och folk, säger Klas Åmark.

– Men även vår egen eftergiftspolitik har varit värre än vad jag trodde. När man som jag ställt samman olika källor med tidigare forskning, så ser man en systematik som chockerat mig. => More

Sweden’s policy of appeasement towards Nazi Germany went too far

28-01-2011, by A. Forström, ed. Today's News

The Swedish policy of appeasement towards Nazi Germany went too far, history professor Klas Åmark argues in the book Living Next Door To Evil, which comes out in February. The book has come at a government commission.

Today, 27 January, is Holocaust Memorial Day. And although it’s exactly 66 years since Auschwitz camp gates opened to the public spotlight, it still throws a shadow over Sweden. The Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933 and terror against dissidents and racism began several years before the war. What did the authorities and the Government do? Could Sweden have made a difference? And what is it about this time that still fascinates?

“I think it’s about to put it all on the line. Existence. The ability to survive. Basic human rights. During World War II, it all hangs by a thread. It is dramatic and decisive, » said Klas Åmark, now retired history professor.

In 2000, the Socialist Government Research Council commissioned a research survey of Sweden’s relationship to Nazism, Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. Since 2006, Klas Åmark worked on the project to write and compile a work that is meant to be the first large, scientifically well-informed review of the history of Sweden both before and during World War II.

“For several reasons, Sweden chose silence in the face of violence and terror. But if you live next door to evil, it’s not enough for a democracy to remain silent,” says Klas Åmark.

The book shows the effects of government trade and press policy and how the Swedish refugee policy rapidly changed, going from string restrictiveness to large, active rescue operations.

“The new research on World War II shows that the Nazi policy was worse, more extensive and systematic than previous research indicated, and it’s not just against Jews but against other countries and peoples,” says Klas Åmark.

“But even our own policy of appeasement has been worse than I thought. When I put together various sources of previous research, we see a scheme which shocked me.”. Translated by Maribeth Barber. Swedish version at Dagens Nyheter

Det kan fallet Wallenberg lära oss om Dawit Isaak

26-01-2011, by Susanne Berger, ed. Dagens Nyheter

Det är nu tio år sedan en gemensam rysk-svensk arbetsgrupp lade fram sin rapport om Raoul Wallenbergs öde i Sovjetunionen efter att han arresterats av ryska trupper i Budapest i januari 1945. Trots arbetsgruppens ansträngningar förblir hela sanningen om Wallenbergs öde okänd.
Utan ett starkt officiellt stöd från svenskt håll finns inga möjligheter att effektivt påverka ryska myndigheter att lägga fram de avgörande akter som krävs för att besvara återstående frågor. Vi vet att sådan dokumentation existerar, men vi får inte se den.

Ändå har det gjorts några viktiga genombrott sedan 2001. Vi vet nu utan skuggan av tvivel att ryska tjänstemän avsiktligt höll inne med delar av dokumentationen för arbetsgruppen så tidigt som 1991. Det gjordes uppenbarligen inte främst av respekt för ryska sekretess- och integritetslagar, utan för att förhindra svenska företrädare från att ta del av information som kunde få dem att ifrågasätta Sovjets sedan länge fasthållna version om Raoul Wallenbergs öde, nämligen att han dog av en hjärtattack i Ljubljankafängelset den 17 juli 1947.

Det censurerade materialet – som ännu hålls hemligt – skulle ha visat att Wallenberg med största sannolikhet förhördes av sovjetiska säkerhetstjänstemän sex dagar senare, den 23 juli 1947. Om den informationen kommit fram 1991 hade det givit arbetsgruppens undersökning en helt annan inriktning.
Även den svenska sidans handlingssätt efterlämnar en del frågetecken. 1997 informerade exempelvis ryska tjänstemän arbetsgruppen om att det i ryska utrikesministeriets arkiv fanns ett antal hemliga chiffertelegram med direkta hänvisningar till Raoul Wallenberg, men de hävdade också att de inte innehöll någon information om hans öde. Av det skälet gick svenska företrädare med på att inte begära en granskning av materialet, trots att det på flera sätt kunde ha visat sig värdefullt för undersökningen.

Fjorton år senare har telegrammen ännu inte offentliggjorts. Detsamma gäller en hel rad utredningsakter och annan dokumentation från ryska underrättelsearkiv som förblivit oåtkomliga för forskare. Men sådana fakta har inte fått svenska tjänstemän att vidta mer energiska åtgärder. Ett undantag är det brev som den svenske Moskvaambassadören Tomas Bertelman skrev i november 2009, där han begär ett klargörande om ny information att Wallenberg sent i juli 1947 ska ha suttit som Fånge nr 7 i Moskva. Över ett år senare väntar brevet fortfarande både på svar från hans ryska motparter och på en allvarligt menad uppföljning från UD i Stockholm.
Historiskt har de olösta fallen kring saknade svenskar dragits med liknande problem. Dit hör försvinnandet av en DC3:a på spaningsuppdrag med åtta mans besättning över Östersjön 1952 (ödet för fyra av dem är fortfarande oklart); liksom frågor om vad som hänt omkring 100 svenska sjömän som försvann spårlöst under åren 1946-1981 under uppdrag längs den farliga rutten mellan Sverige och det kommunistiska Polen. Dit hör vidare ett antal fall där både utländska och svenska medborgare under kalla kriget gick med på att spionera för svensk räkning i Baltikum och andra länder på andra sidan järnridån. Några av dessa personer har aldrig identifierats offentligt. => More at Dagens Nyheter

Hemliga sidor av Raoul Wallenbergs uppdrag.

19-01-2011, by Gellert Kovacs,

Den 4 augusti fyller Raoul Wallenberg 99 år och nästa år är det således 100 år sedan han föddes. Detta kommer att uppmärksammas både i Sverige och i andra länder. Samtidigt kommer efter en viss paus åter ett flertal böcker om denne man, som med fog kan kallas en av Sveriges få hjältar. Vissa av de nyare böckerna försöker nyansera bilden av Wallenberg och ibland till och med påstå att han inte var så betydelsefull som myten gjort gällande och sysslade även med privata affärer. Därmed finns möjlighetens till historisk debatt kring en person som fortfarande omges av en viss mystik. De allra senaste årens forskning i arkiv i Ungern har dock pekat åt ett annat håll- att han förvisso hade andra uppdrag än det humanitära, men att det knappast var privata affärer utan kontakter med den anti-nazistiska motståndsrörelsen och troligen också allierad underrättelsetjänst!

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Some Things Are Worth Fighting For

17-01-2011, by Susanne Berger, ed. Thelocal

It has now been ten years since a joint Swedish-Russian Working Group presented its report on the fate of Raoul Wallenberg in the Soviet Union following his arrest by Russian troops in Budapest in January 1945, a few months before the end of  World War II.  In spite of the Working Group’s efforts, the full facts of Wallenberg’s fate remain unknown.

Not surprisingly, relatively little  progress has been made  since the case moved from an official investigation to a  subject of historical inquiry. Although researchers have produced  quite a few  new insights,  without strong official Swedish support there is no way to effectively pressure Russian authorities to present the key files necessary to answer the remaining questions. In other words, we know crucial documentation is available, but we are not allowed to see it, nor do we get adequate help to obtain access to it.

Nevertheless, there have been some important breakthroughs since 2001. We do know now without a shadow of a doubt that Russian officials intentionally withheld information from documentation presented to the Working Group as early a 1991,  when the group began its work. The documents were censored not primarily out of concern for Russian secrecy  and privacy laws (that issue could have been easily circumvented), but clearly to prevent Swedish officials from learning information that would have led them to question the longtime Soviet version of Raoul Wallenberg’s fate, namely that he died of a heart attack on July 17, 1947 in Lubyanka prison. The censored material – which remains secret to this day – would have shown that with great likelihood Wallenberg was interrogated by Soviet Security officials six days later, on July 23, 1947. If such information had been received in 1991, it might have set the whole inquiry of the Working Group on a different path.

The actions of the Swedish side also leave a few question marks. For example, in 1997 Russian officials  informed the Working Group that Russian Foreign Ministry archives contain a number of secret coded telegrams which make direct reference to Raoul Wallenberg, although the Russians claim they  include no information about his fate. For that reason, Swedish officials agreed not to insist on a review of the documentation, even though the material may have proved valuable for our inquiries in other ways. Fourteen years later, the cables still have not been released. The same is true for a wide range of investigative files  and other documentation from Russian intelligence archives that have remained completely inaccessible to researchers.

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