MI6 Link doomed Swedish Schindler

15-01-2006 , ed. London Times

by Michael Smith, London Times

The Swedish businessman Raoul Wallenberg, who saved up to 100,000 Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust, had close links to MI6, according to documents found in Sweden’s national archives.

The papers include coded messages and transcripts of telephone conversations between Wallenberg and Cyril Cheshire, MI6 ‘s wartime head of station in Stockholm.

Wallenberg disappeared at the end of the war and reports subsequently emerged that the Russians had shot him as a spy after the Soviet Union’s takeover of Eastern Europe.

The Russian authorities admitted only five years ago that he had been killed in 1947 at the Lubyanka, the Moscow headquarters of what later became the KGB.

The new evidence, found by C. G. McKay, a Scottish historian, shows that Wallenberg was in close contact with MI6 as he began his mission to save Jews, suggesting that the Russians might have had some grounds for believing he was a spy.

The files also hint that Wallenberg was involved in secret talks between MI6 and senior German figures over a possible peace deal that would cut out both Hitler and Moscow.

His cousins Jacob and Marcus are known to have passed messages between members of the German resistance and British Intelligence.

« The link to Cheshire, and therefore MI6, must surely be one of the most intriguing factsabout Wallenberg to have emerged since his disappearance. » said McKay. « While nothing can lift the responsibility of the Soviet authorities for his death, this will force historians to consider the possibility that the Russians might have had reasons to believe he was a spy. »

The Stockholm station of MI6 was an important part of Britain’s intelligence network and ran a number of agents inside Nazi Germany.

Wallenberg, a scion of one of Sweden’s leading business dynasties, was a partner in a food company set up by Koloman Lauer, a Hungarian Jew living in Stockholm. Wallenberg travelled to Hungary, France and Germany itself, ostensibly buying and selling food for Lauer’s firm.

The files discovered by McKay show that even before he began saving Jewish lives, Wallenberg was in close contact with MI6. He could have been used to pass messages to MI6 agents or to opponents of Hitler and could also have provided intelligence on what was going on in Germany. McKay found transcripts of intercepted telephone conversations between Wallenberg and Cheshire in the archives of the Swedish security police.

The messages in August 1943 refer to secret meetings and a mysterious « X ». This would have been sufficient in Soviet eyes to make him a marked man.

Wallenberg was sent to Budapest in July 1944 to try to save Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust, in a mission jointly sponsored by the Swedish government and the US War Refugee Board. That brought him into contact with Iver Olsen, financial attache at the US legation in Stockholm, who was also working for the Office of Strategic Studies, forerunner of the CIA.

Two weeks after arriving in Budapest, Wallenberg sent a telegram to Lauer using coded language. McKay has decoded the message, which asked Lauer to get Olsen to intervene with Cheshire to ensure that an end to the deportation of Hungarian Jews would be a fundamental part of any peace deal.

Wallenberg was using every means possible to rescue Hungarian Jews, including issuing documents conferring the protection of the Swedish government, as well as bribery and extortion. He is estimated to have saved as many as 100,000 from the Holocaust.

On January 17th 1945, as the Russians advanced on Budapest, Wallenberg went to Soviet headquarters to talk about his mission to save Jews. He was never seen again. »
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