Raoul Wallenberg receives the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal

09-07-2014, by ,

Raoul Wallenberg was honored at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington DC for his efforts to save Jews from the Holocaust.

The ceremony was held with the presence of his nearest family. Nina Lagergren, Raoul Wallenberg’s half sister received the Gold Medal on his behalf. The initiative was taken by Congressman Gregory W. Meeks and Senators Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Mark Kirk, and Carl Levin.

In 1981 Wallenberg became the second person ever, after Winston Churchill, to be made an honorary citizen of the United States. To date, only seven people have been awarded this honor.

The description of the medal is the following: « The medal’s obverse (heads side) design, by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart, features a close-up portrait of Wallenberg with the inscriptions RAOUL WALLENBERG, ACT OF CONGRESS 2012, and HERO OF HEROES. The medal’s reverse (tails side) design is by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill. The design depicts Wallenberg’s view as he extends a Schutz-pass and a background view of those he could not reach being boarded on a train bound for a concentration camp. Inscriptions are HE LIVES ON FOREVER THROUGH THOSE HE SAVED around the upper border and ONEPERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE beneath the Schutz-pass ». The medal’s achievement is attributed to Ezra Friedlander efforts to have it realized.

A luncheon was held before the ceremony at the congress, organized by Ezra Friedlander Group and The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, which has worked faithfully for Raoul Wallenberg’s legacy since the 90’s. Eduardo Eurnekian, President of the IRWF, was honored for his great actions. Baruch Tenenbaum the founder of IRWF was also present.

Raoul Wallenberg and « the Art of the Impossible »

07-07-2014, by Marie Dupuy, ed. Jerusalem Post

Seventy years ago this month, as World War II raged, American and Swedish officials came to the aid of the last surviving Jewish community in Europe. The decision to send active assistance to the besieged Jews of Hungary was made very late. U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt had ordered the creation of the War Refugee Board only in January 1944. But once it was established, its representatives moved quickly to reach out to neutral countries like Sweden to find ways to render urgently needed help.

My uncle, Raoul Wallenberg, was ready to answer the call to action. And it is thanks to this readiness to join forces against evil, across national boundaries and against ordinary thinking, tens of Thousand of Budapest’s Jews were saved.

As we celebrate this success, I cannot help but reflect over the years of pain and sorrow that ensued for my grandparents and Raoul’s siblings when he himself became a victim in January 1945, after advancing Soviet troops arrested him, in spite of his diplomatic status, and he disappeared into the Soviet Union.

From the day he was born, Raoul had been the light in his mother’s and grandmother’s lives, both of whom had been widowed shortly before his birth. The young boy represented a beacon of hope to cling to amid the two women’s intense grief.

In 1944, Raoul was sent on a dangerous mission without any adequate protection, formally representing his country and, indirectly, also the U.S. Yet, once he disappeared, there was no authoritative voice that stood up for him in the way that he had done for others.

Instead, what followed was a deafening silence that left Raoul’s parents reeling and desperate for answers. All they found were Swedish officials who averted their eyes and turned their backs when they entered a room. Raoul’s influential relatives – the Wallenberg banking family – showed no outward sign of bother over his loss nor did they appear to be interested in determining ways in which he could possibly be saved.

My grandmother was a very strong woman, but the sorrow and nagging uncertainty over the fate of her son, as well as her inability to rally effective help, slowly wore her and my grandfather out. Raoul’s siblings, his sister Nina Lagergren and my father, Guy von Dardel, had joined their parents’ fight from the start. They never let up in this commitment.

My father essentially took on two full time jobs. Aside from raising a family, he somehow found a way to divide his time between the rigid demands of a career as an experimental physicist at CERN (Switzerland) and the all-consuming search for his brother.

In this search my father was as uncompromising as Raoul was in his fight for the Jews of Budapest. Even as his health declined in later years, his fighting spirit remained undaunted.

In 1984, in a daring move, he sued the Soviet Union in a U.S. court. My father won in the first round, and the presiding judge ordered the Soviet government to immediately provide information about Raoul’s fate and to pay $39 million in restitution. The verdict was later set aside, however, over U.S. government fears that its execution would negatively impact U.S Soviet relations.

Since Raoul was nominally a Swedish citizen, the U.S., unfortunately, chose to stay largely in the background of the search for his fate. It is perhaps worth noting that it took a full six years after Raoul’s disappearance before Sweden formally approached the U.S. government for help. It is also a fact that over the next six decades Swedish officials repeatedly rejected American offers of assistance in the case.

Regrettably, when my grandmother, in utter desperation, turned to Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger in 1973, he declined to take any action, apparently angered over the leftist, anti-American policies of the Olaf Palme government.

Eight years later, President Reagan made Raoul an Honorary citizen of the U.S. – a remarkable turn of events that my grandparents did not live to see. They ended their lives, exhausted and dispirited, in 1979.

The moment the Soviet Union opened up in 1989, my father was there to lead the quest for his brother, together with an international team of researchers. He sought and received permission to conduct the first ever on-site investigation of Vladimir Prison, Russia’s most important isolation facility. Many witnesses had reported hearing of Raoul’s presence there after 1947.

A ten year investigation of an official Swedish-Russian Working Group that followed yielded many important results but could not answer the central questions in Raoul’s case: Why did Stalin decide to arrest him and why was he never released? And what happened to Raoul in the crucial summer of 1947, when his trail breaks of in Lubyanka Prison?

In 2001, my father’s application for Raoul’s formal rehabilitation was granted [in Moscow.] Since then, researchers have continued our family’s search and have kept up a constructive dialogue with Russian authorities. Unfortunately, as was the case during the 1990s, Russian officials have consistently refused access to key documentation, especially highly relevant files kept in the archives of Russia’s intelligence and security services, as well as collections that could reveal much needed information about how the Soviet leadership assessed Raoul’s case through the years.

In 2009, important evidence emerged that as far back as 1991, essential documentation in the Wallenberg case had not been shared with researchers or our family. This material shows that Raoul may have been held as a numbered prisoner – “Prisoner no.7” – in Lubyanka Prison, on July 23, 1947, six days after the official Soviet and later Russian version of his alleged death (on July 17, 1947).

To our great disappointment, Swedish officials have seemingly tolerated these deliberate omissions or at least have not vigorously insisted that these missteps are fully remedied. Numerous other important questions have remained unanswered for decades, including questions about one or more highly secret Swedish prisoners apparently incarcerated in Vladimir prison some time in the years 1947-1972.

The censoring and intentional withholding of documentation is a serious matter because it may be indicative of a broader pattern or policy. Russian officials have repeatedly stressed that they face no limitations to presenting the complete facts in the Wallenberg case. The recent revelations, however, raise doubts that this is indeed so.

We have often wondered why there has not been a more serious effort to press the Russian government for access to highly relevant collections? It is quite obvious that if researchers were empowered to do their jobs, important progress regarding the core questions in the Wallenberg inquiry could almost certainly be made.

For us, other question marks persist: What exactly have Russian and Swedish decision makers known about Raoul’s fate and when did they know it? And do they possess knowledge today they have not shared with the public ?

Frankly speaking, it has been quite disheartening to see that official representatives – those who have the power to act – have been seemingly content not to explore all options available to them.

When our family turned to President Barack Obama in 2013, to ask for his assistance in urging President Putin to provide direct and uncensored access to key documentation, we were told once again that “the time was not right” for confronting Russia.

And so we have gathered once again in Washington [D.C.] this week, to honor Raoul’s achievements and the proof he represents that the good in us can overcome any evil, no matter how vicious, if we put our hearts and minds to it.

Raoul understood one fundamental thing very well – that “human rights” is not just simply a general term. To borrow a phrase from the U.S. religion scholar Cornel West, meaningful assistance to human beings in need has to be hands on, it has to be “tactile. It cannot ever remain merely theoretical or cerebral.

In the hell that was Budapest in 1944, against seemingly insurmountable odds, Raoul found a way to be effective. He was a true visionary, who did not take “no” for an answer. He was a devoted practitioner of what the playwright and former President of the Czech Republic, Václav Havel, has so aptly called “the Art of the Impossible”.

Havel felt that even though in today’s complex world the choice between“lesser” evils often seems to be our only option, we should be careful not to forget to strive for the “ideal” outcome. We, the citizens of democratic societies, he argued, have to maintain a constant vigil to stay true to our declared humanistic and democratic principles.

Raoul’s mission to Budapest was precisely that, true humanistic philosophy in action. He left behind his comfortable life in Sweden and he threw himself into the task of making this very concept a reality. For that, he does not only richly deserve the honors that have been showered upon him, but he also deserves something more: He deserves justice.

Raw courage, both physical and moral, is Raoul’s true legacy. His work in Hungary graphically illustrates that if we want to affect change, if we want to oppose tyranny, we have to raise ourselves up – literally – and fight against it.

Next January [2015], seventy years will have passed since he left, on a cold January morning, to meet with Soviet representatives in order to ensure that the Jewish safe houses he and his colleagues had established would be respected and protected.

For our family, the fight continues. We will not and cannot be satisfied until we have full answers. But we also can no longer carry the enormous burden of the investigation alone. My hope is that the world will stand up, just as Raoul once did, with so much courage and so much heart. It would be a fitting tribute to him and to the many millions of victims of totalitarian regimes the world over who have suffered and continue to suffer as a result of our silence.

© Marie Dupuy

Jerusalem Post

A brief Note on Grosheim-Krisko

04-06-2014, by C.G.McKay,

© C.G.McKay, May, 2014. This essay is made freely available as a contribution to public knowledge.

Hermann Grosheim-Krisko was employed as a Russian translator by the Swedish Legation in Budapest in 1944 and given a false identity as the Norwegian , “Henry Thomsen” . When the Red Army occupied Budapest, Grosheim-Krisko, like Raoul Wallenberg, was arrested by Smersh ,sent to Moscow and accused of anti-Soviet activities and espionage. Unlike Wallenberg ,however, he was eventually released in 1953 and turned up in due course in Stockholm where he provided the Swedes with further information while simultaneously claiming financial compensation for his years in Soviet custody. On the basis of an old file in Auswärtiges Amts Archive, new light is shed on Grosheim-Krisko’s family and background prior to his wartime years in
Budapest.

Read more> A Brief Note on Grosheim-Krisko.pdf

Wallenberg’s family demands access to key documents in his case

16-03-2014, ed. Jerusalem Post

Published at Jerusalem Post, 03/12/2014

My late father, Guy von Dardel, was Raoul’s maternal half-brother and fought for over six decades to learn the full circumstances of Raoul’s disappearance. Raoul Wallenberg
Raoul Wallenberg Photo: Reuters In the 1990s, the former MGB investigator Boris Solovov secretly told a Swedish-Russian commission that the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg had been held as “Prisoner No.7” in Lubyanka Prison in 1947. Yet the FSB Central Archive refuses to allow Wallenberg’s family access to documentation that could confirm Solovov’s claim.

In November 2009, the archivists of the Central Archive of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) informed two researchers who had been investigating Raoul Wallenberg’s fate for many years – Vadim Birstein and Susanne Berger – that on July 23, 1947, a still unidentified “Prisoner No. 7” had been interrogated for over sixteen hours in Lubyanka Prison.

The FSB released only a heavily censored copy of the page in question. It showed that two other prisoners had been questioned together with “Prisoner No. 7”, on the same day, for the same length of time.

The men had a direct connection to Raoul Wallenberg. They were his driver Vilmos Langfelder, and Langfelder’s cellmate, Sandor Katona.

Based on this and other information, the FSB archivists concluded that “Prisoner No.7” with “great likelihood “was the missing Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg.”

Wallenberg had been arrested by Soviet forces in Budapest in January 1945, after he had saved the lives of thousands of Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust.

He was taken to Moscow where he was imprisoned for at least two-and-a-half years.

Surprisingly, FSB officials refused to provide a copy of the entry for “Prisoner No.7” as it appears in the Lubyanka interrogation register, nor did they allow Birstein and Berger to review this page in the original register.

Over four years have passed since. The issue is of central importance because the proper identification of “Prisoner No. 7” goes to the heart of the Raoul Wallenberg case, in particular the question of whether he died on July 17, 1947 – as has been claimed by Soviet and Russian authorities – or if, in fact, he survived some time after this date.

In December 2013, I decided to file my own request for access to the register, as Raoul Wallenberg’s niece. My late father, Guy von Dardel, was Raoul’s maternal half-brother and fought for over six decades to learn the full circumstances of Raoul’s disappearance.

Last month, I received a formal reply from the FSB Central Archive in which archivists informed me that, unfortunately, a review of the original Lubyanka interrogation register for July 22-23, 1947, “is not possible.” They provided no specific reason for their refusal.

Once again, the FSB officials failed to present a full copy of the requested register pages or a detailed description of the entry for this mysterious “Prisoner No.7”, as I had specifically asked for in my letter.

Naturally, I wonder what the FSB is hiding.

Certain notations on the page? Names of other, still unknown prisoners held in Lubyanka in 1947? The name of the interrogator for “Prisoner No.7”? Obviously, Russian privacy laws should not apply to this particular entry, since the full identity of “Prisoner No.7” would remain shielded. Furthermore, the entries are 67 years old and should no longer be subject to the official Russian 30-year secrecy requirements. Even the 75-year rule governing “personal documents” should be waived in this case.

If not Raoul Wallenberg, who could this man be? An unknown cellmate of Raoul’s in Lubyanka Prison, perhaps? Someone who had been active in Hungary in 1944- 45? The matter must be fully clarified, because it could provide vital clues to our investigation. I have become quite skeptical about the FSB’s claim that no positive identification of this prisoner is possible.

I wonder even more when the FSB refuses me access to documentation that was clearly available to Russian officials as far back as 1991, at the start of the bilateral Swedish-Russian Working Group that went on to investigate the question of my uncle’s fate until 2001.

The information about a “Prisoner No.7” being questioned for 16 hours, together with two other persons very closely associated with Raoul Wallenberg, should have been thoroughly examined in the course of that 10-year investigation.

Yet it was not, since Russian officials for still unexplained reasons never formally disclosed the fact of this interrogation to the Swedish side.

The information should have received serious scrutiny because during the 1990s the Working Group had received an important statement from Boris Solovov, a former investigator in the MGB’s 3rd Main Directorate, 4th Department, which in 1947 oversaw the Raoul Wallenberg case. In several interviews Solovov had told Swedish and Russian officials that at some point in 1947, he had been asked by his superior officer to deliver a package to the MGB archives. This package carried the label: “Contains materials related to ‘Prisoner No.7’.” It was to be opened only by the “head of MGB” (Viktor Abakumov).

Even more interesting is the fact that Solovov had indicated explicitly that he knew in 1947 that Raoul Wallenberg was this particular “Prisoner No.7”.

Solovov further testified that his superiors had prepared a complex diagram designed to keep track of prisoners whom they wanted to place in isolation because they knew of Raoul Wallenberg’s presence in Soviet captivity. In fact, Solovov stated that “Prisoner No.7” was included in this diagram.

I would like to stress that he made these statements many years before the release of the more recent information from 2009, concerning an interrogation of a “Prisoner No.7” on July 23, 1947.

In retrospect, it upsets me greatly that Russian officials clearly chose to withhold this highly relevant information during an official inquiry in 1991-2001. It raises the obvious question of what other documents and insights they have not shared.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Raoul Wallenberg’s humanitarian mission to Hungary and next January a full 70 years will have passed since his disappearance in Moscow. It is time for Russian President Vladimir Putin and the FSB to lay all cards on the table.

I will continue my call for an independent, uncensored review of Lubyanka Prison interrogation registers and other key documentation in the Raoul Wallenberg case. I hope that the world will join our family in this request.

The author is the niece of Raoul Wallenberg.

March 19th is the 70th anniversary Nazi occupation of Hungary.

Raoul Wallenberg: His Lessons for the Social Work Profession

13-02-2014, by Susan Boland, ed. Social Work Advance Access

With globalization and what Willem Blok (2012) has described as the development of a singular international identity and growing joint body of knowledge for social work, there is no better time to reexamine and reevaluate that identity and body of knowledge. Furthermore, there may be no better addition to this body of knowledge than the work of Raoul Wallenberg, as it presents us with invaluable opportunities to learn in the following contexts: Blok spoke of the difficulty of social work always having two faces, helping people on the one hand and supporting the established order and
relations in society on the other, even when they are controversial. He concluded: It is a continuous challenge to uphold the initial ideals of social work: to support persons, groups, organisations, and communities, to stimulate participation, empowerment, and democracy, and to contribute to a fair and humane society. To continue doing these things, it is vital . . . to be a living example of a good person and citizen yourself.

Read more> Raoul Wallenberg: His Lessons for the Social Work Profession

EU urges Russia to provide access to Russian archives

07-02-2014,
The official EU Resolution on its relations with Russia urges Russia to provide access to Russian archives and to solve the RW case:

26.  Appeals to the Russian authorities to cooperate in opening up Russian archives, enabling access for researchers and declassifying relevant documents, including in relation to the fate of Raoul Wallenberg, who 70 years ago saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from genocide

This is a significant development, underscoring the importance EU members attach to solving the issue.

Letter from Raoul Wallenberg’s family to President Putin

27-01-2014, by Matilda von Dardel,

His Excellency
The President of the Russian Federation
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
23, Ilyinka Street,
Moscow
103132 Russia

January 27, 2014

 

Dear Mr. President –

On a cold January day in 1945, Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg embarked on a trip to contact the victorious Soviet forces that had liberated Hungary from a brutal Nazi occupation.

During the previous ten months, three-quarters of the country’s Jewish population – more than 500,000 people – had been rounded up and viciously   murdered.  Only in the capital city of Budapest about 100,000 Jews had managed to survive, under the protection of the diplomatic representations from neutral countries like Sweden, Switzerland, Spain and the Vatican.

Raoul Wallenberg’s actions during the height of the violence, from October 1944 – January 1945, are proof of his extraordinary spirit.  Countless witnesses have testified that they owed their lives in large part to his personal courage and organizational talents, which merged the widespread efforts of the Hungarian resistance into an extraordinarily effective rescue apparatus.

Instead of finding a friendly welcome and the hoped for assistance from Soviet authorities, Wallenberg and his driver, Vilmos Langfelder, were detained and transferred to Moscow, never to be seen again.

This year, the world commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Hungarian Holocaust and by January 2015, seven decades will have passed since Raoul Wallenberg disappeared in the Soviet Union.

Although the Soviet state ceased to exist more than twenty years ago, we, his family, still have not received answers to our most pressing questions: 

Why was Raoul Wallenberg arrested and why was he never released? And what exactly happened to him in the summer of 1947, after his trail breaks off in Moscow’s Lubyanka Prison?

As early as 1990/1, an International Commission, led by my husband (Raoul’s brother) Guy von Dardel, working closely with Russian  experts and officials, was able to confirm that both Raoul Wallenberg and  Vilmos Langfelder  had been imprisoned in the  Soviet Union during 1945-47.

Later, a bilateral Swedish-Russian Working Group that investigated the Wallenberg case from 1991-2001 managed to expand on these findings, but concluded its investigation without obtaining full clarity about Raoul’s fate.

Since 2001, new documentation has emerged from Russian archives that previously had not been shared  with researchers.  Among other things, these documents raise the important question if Raoul could have been held as  a “Prisoner no. 7”,  in the Lubyanka Prison in 1947;  and if he possibly remained  there  some time after July 17, 1947,  his alleged date of death (according to  Soviet authorities).

Just recently we learned that, contrary to previous claims, the investigation records of Raoul Wallenberg’s longtime cellmate, the German diplomat Willy Rödel, have been largely preserved. This fact and other archival data strongly suggest that similar investigative material was also created in Raoul’s case, and that some of this documentation may continue to exist to this day.

 

In May 2012, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID) released almost all of the previously classified cipher cable  traffic between the Soviet Embassy, Stockholm and the Soviet Foreign Ministry from 1944-47. These telegrams have provided added insights into the Soviet government’s early handling of the Wallenberg case.

 

The emergence of this new information underscores the fact  that important material  with direct relevance to the question of Raoul Wallenberg’s fate continues to be found in Russian archival collections.

 

Unfortunately, independent researchers have so far not been allowed  uncensored access  to many of these and other essential files, most of  which have remained  classified, some  in violation of current Russian law and international agreements.

 

The withheld material includes papers that could help to properly identify « Prisoner no. 7 » who was interrogated in Lubyanka Prison on July 23, 1947 and who, according to archivists of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), may have been Raoul Wallenberg.

 

Other vital questions persist, especially about the Soviet era system of isolating and numbering prisoners during the years 1947-1953. Russian officials have also yet to provide complete information about all Swedish prisoners who were incarcerated in Vladimir Prison during the 1950’s and early 1960’s. This material is urgently needed to either corroborate or dismiss the statements of witnesses who claim to have met Raoul Wallenberg after 1947.

 

Just as importantly, researchers have not been permitted to examine Russian intelligence files that could provide valuable insights into the reasons for Raoul’s arrest.  These include Soviet foreign and military intelligence reports from Hungary in 1944-45, detailing the activities of the Swedish Legation, Budapest, including those of Raoul Wallenberg.

 

Some of these documents are known to exist in the Central Archive of the FSB (TsAFSB), in the archives of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and in the Central Archives of the Russian Ministry of Defense (TsAMO). So far, neither agency has allowed an independent review.

 

Similar severe restrictions have prevented the study of internal correspondence records of the Soviet Security Services and the Soviet leadership. The same is true for specific prisoner investigation files.

 

While the Russian Foreign Ministry’s declassification of the previously secret cipher cables was a welcome step, even in this collection the most relevant material has remained off limits to researchers.   Some of these records are currently held in the archives of the SVR.

And despite repeated requests, important collections in the Archives of the President of the Russian Federation (APRF), especially certain records of the Politburo,  have not been made available to independent experts.

It has become increasingly clear that if direct and unhindered access to this documentation would be granted, the Wallenberg case could almost certainly be solved.  We respect Russia’s secrecy and privacy laws, but they must be properly applied and should not stand in the way of discovering the fate of a true hero of the Holocaust.

As President of Russia, you possess the necessary   authority to remedy this situation.  

Your office has repeatedly expressed your admiration for Raoul’s person and his accomplishments.  You and other Russian officials have also stated that Russia’s archives remain ready to assist researchers with their inquiries in the Wallenberg case. Unfortunately, this assistance currently exists in name only.  Researchers routinely have to wait twelve months or more for a reply to a single research request. This situation does not allow for an effective inquiry and belies any claims of a meaningful cooperation in the continuing efforts to solve the Wallenberg case.

We are very much aware of the fact that Russia knows the pain of war and persecution only too well.  Twenty million of your countrymen and women lost their lives during World War II and millions more suffered for decades under Stalinist repression.

Our family has been deeply touched by the dedication of so many Russian officials, archivists and scholars to win full clarity about Raoul Wallenberg’s fate.  Over the years, Russian and international Wallenberg experts have established a close working rapport. They should be allowed to join their respective expertise and to redouble their efforts to bring clarity to an almost seventy year old mystery.

Raoul Wallenberg showed the world that every person matters, that ‘human rights’  should never be treated simply as  a general concept.  The principle of human rights, as well as the principle of  their defense, is firmly rooted in the suffering of very real, individual human beings. Raoul understood this and his mission to Budapest was pure humanistic philosophy in action.

Both Europe and Russia are deeply steeped in this tradition.

 

It is in your hands to end our family’s long ordeal.   In doing so, you would send an important signal to the world that justice can and will prevail, no matter how long it may take.

 

We will never give up until we know what happened to Raoul.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

 

Matilda von Dardel