If Russian Authorities Lied About Raoul Wallenberg, Then What?

07-10-2011 , by Susanna Berger , ed. The Global Herald

Now that researchers have shown in two proven instances that  Russia for many decades has deliberately withheld key information in the Raoul Wallenberg case, where does that leave the investigation of his fate?

For as yet unexplained reasons, Russian officials chose to  mislead for decades not only the general public, but also an official Swedish-Russian Working Group that investigated the case from 1991-2001. This group included official Swedish representatives as well as Raoul Wallenberg’s brother, Guy von Dardel. Russia did not merely obscure inconsequential details of the case but instead failed to provide documentation that contains information which goes to the very heart of the Wallenberg inquiry. These are:

1. Copies of the Lubyanka prison register from July 23, 1947. They show that a “Prisoner Nr. 7″ was interrogated on that day, six days after Raoul Wallenberg’s alleged death on July 17, 1947. Russian officials did not show this page to Swedish investigators during the Working Group, citing “privacy” concerns. They have since acknowledged that “Prisoner Nr. 7″ almost certainly is  identical with Wallenberg.

2. Investigative material about  Willy Roedel, Raoul Wallenberg’s longterm cellmate in Lefortovo prison (1945-1947). In 1993, Russian officials provided the Working Group with a few loose pages about Roedel. They specifically denied that any of Roedel’s interrogation protocols had survived. Just a few weeks ago, however, researchers learned that two of these interrogations had been published as part of a new collection of documentation issued by the Central Archives of Russia’s State Security Service (FSB). It now appears that not only Roedel’s statements are available, but that fifty-seven pages from his file have been deliberately withheld. Some of the material apparently dates from the years that Roedel spent together with Raoul Wallenberg.

An obvious  question presents itself:  If Raoul Wallenberg died in 1947, why this grand effort at deception? At the moment, only one answer seems plausible: Russian officials did not want to complicate matters, as this information undoubtedly would have.  If researchers had learned in 1991 that Raoul Wallenberg was alive six days after his supposed death on July 17, 1947, then an all-out effort would have followed to uncover the full circumstances of his fate.

Similarly, if investigators had known that large parts of Roedel’s file have survived, then quite obviously similar files must have been created for other key persons in the Wallenberg drama, such as Wallenberg himself or for Vilmos Langfelder, Wallenberg’s driver who was arrested alongside him in January 1945. And just as obviously, their files too may well still remain accessible in FSB archives (After all, from where exactly did Wallenberg’s possessions magically reappear in 1989?).

So, what would these papers tell us? Most likely they will reveal information about Wallenberg’s time in captivity, how he was treated, about his health, about his background, his experiences and activities in Hungary, and – most importantly – about how his case was handled by Soviet authorities. In fact, if Wallenberg’s file also survives – as we now must assume – then it would undoubtedly include information about the genesis of a key document in his case, the so-called Smoltsov report from 1947, which announced to the world that Wallenberg had died suddenly of a heart attack in Lubyanka prison on July 17, 1947.

When Soviet officials in 1957 released this note from Lubyanka prison doctor A.L Smoltsov,  almost everyone questioned the details of the story. The general wisdom, however, was that while this version may not have been true in fact, it was most likely true in spirit. That is, Wallenberg had most likely died, but had probably been executed.

The motives of the Soviet government were quite clear. Officials wanted to present a credible version of Raoul Wallenberg’s demise in prison without implicating any living members of the regime. Therefore, the former Soviet Minister of State Security, Viktor Abakumov, who had been killed in 1954 and A. Smoltsov, who was also no longer alive, were singled out for blame.>More

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