Raoul Wallenberg: a duel with Stalin

17-12-2011 , by Leonid Muchnik , ed. Research worker of Institute of Democracy and Human Rights, Odessa city, Ukraine

Whoever saves one life – saves the world entire.

Talmud

The article in Russia

The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989) rightly said in his memoirs that Raoul Wallenberg “is one of those people who make not just all of Sweden but all of humanity proud” (1) . As long as Judeo-Christian civilization continues to exist, his fate is sure to move people, for he was one of its most praiseworthy examples that has lived among us. Humanity’s greatest good always begins with the ability to do good on behalf of other people. In saving the lives of the Hungarian Jews, Wallenberg made his own contribution to the development of all Western Civilization. It is apparent that through his acts of self-sacrifice over the course of several months in 1944, he fathered the standard of our attitude to human dignity which was subsequently laid down in perpetuity as the foundation of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For this reason, this article is dedicated to the sacred memory of a saint of many nations, Raoul Wallenberg (1912 – ?).
As is well documented, in the period from 1933 to 1945, some 6,000,000 Jews were exterminated in Europe by the combined forces of Nazi Germany, their allies, and in addition their collaborators in occupied countries (2). Such ruthless mass murder of Jews while the entire world looked on was to become the single most unmitigated catastrophe in the history of the Jewish people.
The attitude of many states to the fate of the Jews permitted the first president of Israel, Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952), to pronounce bitterly that: “the world seemed to be divided into two parts – those places where the Jews could not live and those where they could not enter” (3) . Although it would have been closer to the truth to say: the world divides into nations who killed Jews and nations who watched with indifference. Against this background, a few individual people discovered true greatness, by taking hold of their conscience and risking their lives, reaching out their hands without a moment’s thought to help the victims of a world that had turned to brutality. Subsequently, a number of these people earned the name of the Righteous Among the Nations. Yet even in this company, someone who managed to save tens of thousands of lives would draw universal attention to himself. This person turned out to be a Swedish diplomat, who went down in history not only in consequence of his own noble mission in saving the Hungarian Jews from the hands of Hitler’s executioners, but also through his own tragic death, from which – alas – no-one was able to save him.
The truth about our hero’s life was reflected in the pages of the documentary research project “Raoul Wallenberg – Report of the Swedish-Russian Working Group” (4), in several volumes of books and in global media, while the lie about his death appeared on the pages of a decree from the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office of the 22nd of December 2000. The world found out from the latter that:
“it has not been possible to establish the true reasons for the arrest and detention of Wallenberg and Langfelder, the factual circumstances of their death, the existence of materials from criminal proceedings, or any personal details about whether they were arrested or taken prisoners of war.”


This conclusion sent the element of the global population which had applied titanic efforts to the establishment of the truth over the affair into a state of shock. In particular, Sharon LaFraniere noted that the ruling on Wallenberg’s rehabilitation “did not address why the Soviets, who lost 20 million people in World War II, killed a man who fought the same enemy, and then lied about his death for 55 years” (5). Yet every lie has its motives. The Report of the Swedish-Russian Working Group puts forward the hypothesis that “Stalin’s plans in particular, led to the arrest and detention of Raoul Wallenberg”(6). The present article shall attempt to research this hypothesis.
In order to answer the fateful question of the reasons for Wallenberg’s death, it is necessary to understand the stereotypical behavior, worldview and geopolitical ambition of Joseph Stalin (1878-1953), all of which dictated his decisions regarding the fates of individual people, ethnic groups and entire populations. Stalin’s associates called him “the Master”, while his victims knew him as “the Mass Murderer”. Both were right: he was the sole sovereign of the Bolshevik Empire. He held autocratic right of life and death over any person who thanks to the whims of Chance found themselves within its torture chambers, barracks, interrogation cells, or standing on the brink of the firing squad pit. We do not know which particular circles of hell Wallenberg trod on his route to death. But in her book, the former Soviet gulag prisoner and writer Yevgenia Ginzburg (1904-1977) related to what torturous ends Stalin’s executioners committed foreign citizens. Let’s take for example a sequence from her 1937 misfortunes in the Butyrka prison:
“The key turns in the lock. The doors open again, and into the room come 35 women. Their group hums in a multilingual murmur. They notice me and encircle me fully. Their faces are well meaning. Questions come in German, French and broken Russian. Who am I? When did they arrest me? What’s the news in the outside world?
I answer in Russian. Then I also ask:
‘And who are you, comrades? I can see you are foreigners, but I can’t tell where from.’
A thin 28-year-old blonde woman holds out her hand to me.
‘Let’s introduce ourselves…Greta Kestner, member of the KPD (Communist Party of Germany). And this is my…wie sagt man? Girlfreundin? Nicht? A-a…Girl-friend. Clara. She has run from Hitler. She was a long time under Gestapo.’
Clara is very dark. She looks more Italian than German. She looks at me expectantly, nodding in support of Greta’s words.
Another tall blonde steps forward.
‘Member of the Latvian Communist Party,’ she says in Russian without an accent.
‘Italian Communist…’
A smiling Chinese girl, whose age is hard to determine, takes me by the shoulders and hugs me, identifying herself as a member of the Chinese Communist Party.
‘In Russian my name is Zhenya,’ she says. ‘Zhenya Kovyerkova. I studied in Moscow at the Sun Yat-sen University. They gave all of us Russian surnames there. What is your name, comrade?’
They all perk up dramatically at the knowledge that I am a member of the Soviet Union Communist Party.”


An extraordinary dialogue ensues, from which the monstrous similarity of methods applied to Communists by the repressive organs of Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s USSR becomes clear. Of particular note is where Ginzburg asks one of the German prisoners:
“‘What are they accusing you of, Greta?’
Her blue Aryan eyes glisten with unshed tears.
‘Oh, shrecklich! Espionage…’
In two or three sentences she describes her husband – ‘ein wirkliche Berlin prole’ – and herself: a youth stormtrooper from the age of 15. But she’s been lucky, while poor little Clara…
Clara is lying on the camp bed, turns over sharply onto her stomach, and pulls up her dress. Her hips and buttocks are scored with terrible deformed scars, as if some predatory beast had ripped chunks of meat out of her. Clara’s thin lips press together. Her grey eyes are like flickers of white fire against her dark, almost black face.
‘The Gestapo did it,’ she says hoarsely. Then just as sharply, she sits up, and holding out both hands, she adds ‘and the NKVD did this.’
The nails on both her hands are disfigured, blue and swollen.
My heart almost stops. What happened?
‘It’s a special machine for…it’s…wie sagt man? A-a-ah…fully honest confessions..’
‘Torture?’
‘Оh-о-оh…’ Greta shakes her head sorrowfully. ‘When night falls – you’ll heard it.’(7)


We need to know about this kind of attitude to people; without this knowledge, we cannot possibly understand Wallenberg’s journey to his own Golgotha, a journey which took place across Fascist Hungary.

After Nazi Germany invaded Hungary on the 19th of March 1944, the house-to-house deportation of local Jews to death camps began. After Ferenc Szalasi (1897-1946) came to power, the Hungarian fascists became frenzied, and tried to do their bloody bit towards “a final solution of the Jewish question”. When it came to murdering their Jewish fellow countrymen, they had their own style: the Hungarians clamped the unfortunates in irons, three at a time, stood them on the edge of a cliff by a river, and shot the middle one… It was precisely against the background of this apogee of collaboration between German Nazis and Hungarian fascists in Budapest that Raoul Wallenberg’s self-sacrificing efforts developed.

Arriving in Hungary on the 9th of June 1944, he at once immersed himself in the task of saving people from imminent death. There is no need to record here the details of his exploits, which have already become so famous. Nevertheless we need to return to those events which thanks to Stalin’s ill will put an end to his righteous life.

It is genuinely well known, that on the 13th of January 1945, Wallenberg set off under his own initiative to meet the approaching Soviet Army. His intention was to enter into discussions with its military command about the future fate of the Hungarian Jews who had been spared, and the urgent supply of provisions and medicine for Budapest’s two Jewish ghettos. A number of researchers are convinced that if he had stayed among his colleagues at the Swedish embassy during this time, then he would have avoided his subsequent tragic fate (8). This theory has valid foundations, insofar as Sweden by request of the USSR had since the 25th of June 1941 been a representative of the Soviet government’s interests in countries against which it was fighting, including Hungary. Correspondingly, on the 31st of December 1944, Sweden turned to the USSR with a request to take under its protection all its diplomats in Hungary. But Wallenberg, overcome by feelings of compassion for the fate of other people, walked out to meet his executioners. Events then took a turn to the paradoxical. On the 17th of January 1945, a telegram was sent to the Commander of the 2nd Ukrainian Front, Rodion Malinovsky (1898-1967), from the assistant chief of the NKO (National Committee for the Defence of the USSR) Nikolai Bulganin (1885-1975), in which was stated:

“ARREST AND TRANSPORT R. WALLENBERG TO MOSCOW.”
To complete the picture, it is appropriate to record the characteristic which the first Prime Minister of Israel David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973) attributed to Bulganin. Assessing the composition of a message which he received in 1956 signed by Bulganin in his role as Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, he noted:

“if his name had not been on it, I might have thought it had been written by Hitler, although there is no great difference between these two executioners.”
Yet in relation to a number of acts by the Soviet administration towards in Israeli affairs in those years, his assessment sounds even sharper:
“It is possible that much of what’s in these dispatches is exaggerated, but the note which Bulganin sent me, and the suppression of Hungary with tanks shows what the Communist Nazis are capable of”(9).

When he was arrested on the 6th of February 1945 and incarcerated in Moscow as a prisoner of war, disappearing forever from the field of view of the outside world, Wallenberg of course found out for himself what the “Communist Nazis” were capable of in the fullest sense. A few sources reproduce the words of Aleksandra Kollontai (1872-1952), the Soviet ambassador to Sweden, who in reply to questions over his fate said: “Wallenberg is in Russian hands, safe and sound” (10). But falling into “Russian hands” in those years was about as safe as falling into a boa constrictor’s embrace: he would soon draw his last breath. Thus on the 14th of May 1947, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for the USSR Andrey Vyshinsky (1883-1954) sent a memorandum under the name of his superior Vyacheslav Molotov (1890-1986), in which the following suggestion was put forward:

“In light of the fact that the Wallenberg case continues to remain stagnant up to the present time, I request you to order Comrade Abakumov, undertake to produce both an inquiry into the case and proposals for its liquidation.”
The note was rounded off thus:
“Comrade Abakumov. Please report to me. V. Molotov. 18.V.47”.

On the 17th of July 1947 Victor Abakumov (1908-1954), the head of the secret police of the USSR, sent Molotov a confidential letter “concerning the case of the Swedish national R. Wallenberg”. It was officially recorded in the log of outgoing documents on the 17th of July 1947, and in the incoming log at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR on the 23rd of July 1947. Despite which, it has not been possible to locate it in a single one of the archives of present-day Russia. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that precisely this letter contains the secret of Wallenberg’s death.
Since as Minister of State Security of the USSR, Abakumov was not subordinate to Molotov in his role as Minister of Foreign Affairs, one might be led to conclude that behind this whole ‘charade’ of correspondence between political pawns stood the figure of the chess Grandmaster of his domain – Stalin. The Russian historian Lew Besymenski (1920-2007) justifiably argues that:
“the main reason had nothing to do with Raoul Wallenberg, but with Joseph Stalin. From the first moment (the telegram from Stalin’s deputy Bulganin regarding the transportation of Wallenberg to Moscow) to the last (Wallenberg’s death) it was a ‘Stalinist affair’. It was under his control, it required Abakumov to ‘look after’ Wallenberg for reasons which weren’t communicated to Abakumov. Responsibility for the affair could only be assumed by Stalin; everything else falls into the category of this conjecture: neither Molotov nor Abakumov, and even less Beria (who was already on the sidelines by then) could risk taking any kind of decision themselves. Fortunately individual decision-making was not in the least bit possible thanks to the fact that Stalin had a lot on his plate besides during the years from 1945-1947” (11).
It is worthy of note that the abduction on foreign soil of people who Stalin deemed undesirable belonged to the sphere of activity of the Soviet Secret Police for a long time prior to Wallenberg’s arrest. Such, for example, was the fate of General Alexander Kutepov (1882 – 1930). On the 26th of January 1930 he was kidnapped in Paris by Soviet intelligence agents and died during his attempted secret deportation to the USSR. A similar fate befell General Yevgeny Miller (1867-1939). On the 22nd of September 1937, he was abducted in Paris and subsequently transported in secret to the USSR. On the 11th of May 1939, he was shot on the basis of a sentence pronounced by the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR. Even so, the motives behind these deeds were different. In Wallenberg’s case, it is naturally necessary to take the following into account: the dictator of the Soviet Empire was a pathological anti-Semite.

A little known historical fact brings into sharp relief the contribution of the Stalinist Empire to the tragedy of the European Jewry. At the start of 1940, the Berlin and Vienna Bureau Chiefs of the Central Office of Jewish Emigration, Reinhard Heydrich (1904-1942) and Adolf Eichmann (1906-1962) turned to the government of the USSR with the request to receive three hundred and fifty to four hundred thousand German Jews and around one million eight hundred thousand Polish Jews into the Jewish Autonomous Republic or into Ukraine. The Bolshevist state refused on the basis of the principle that under the German–Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Demarcation of the 28th of September 1939, exchanges only concerned Germans, Ukrainians, Belarusians and Ruthenians. Of the Jews, the treaty made no mention. In this way, the world’s first “international” government pronounced a sentence of death on the world’s most persecuted nation. The Soviet diplomat Fyodor Raskolnikov (1892-1939), one of the first to draw attention to the anti-Semitic politics of the USSR, wrote that:
“With indifference, you delivered Jewish workers, intelligentsia, craftsmen, and refugees from Fascist barbarity to their deaths, slamming in their faces the doors to our country, where it would have been possible to offer hospitable shelter to many thousands of emigrants”(12).
Stalin’s policy did notescape Hitler’s attention. Considerable intelligence suggests that in the Bolshevist leader, the Nazi Führer discerned his kindred spirit with regard to the question of state anti-Semitism. Of the existence of the latter in Stalin, Hitler was reassured by the German Minister of Foreign Affairs Joachim von Ribbentrop (1893-1946). According to surviving stenographic records, on the 24th of July 1942 Hitler made this comment in his headquarters in Vinnytsia:

“In his conversation with von Ribbentrop, Stalin did not hide the fact that he was just waiting for the right moment, whereby there would be enough intelligence within the USSR to take a complete stranglehold on the Jewish leadership, which for the time being he still needed”(13).
The Russian historian Gennady Kostyrchenko dedicated an entire series of books to the study of inner motives for state anti-Semitism in the USSR. He noted in particular that the existence of the motive of “Stalin’s personal anti-Semitism” was of enormous significance in the process of his “single-handed shaping of the course of national policy” in the USSR. That said, under the influence of encroaching old age, the dictator’s “paranoia, that from all sides the American-Zionist threat was looming”14 became famously sharper. In this way, in addition to his anti-Semitism Stalin suffered from yet another affliction – his paranoia. The Russian historian Yakov Etinger confirmed the existence of this terrible ailment for the despot’s subjects in his memoirs, where he wrote that:
“An experienced doctor, my father kept to the opinion that Stalin was suffering from delusions of grandeur, and from a persecution complex. He told me that the eminent Russian scientist Vladimir Mikhailovich Bekhterev examined Stalin in early 1927, and pronounced a diagnosis of paranoia. Before long, the scientist was dead. And the fate of millions more depended on this paranoiac.”

It is a curious coincidence that the same Bulganin who gave the order for Wallenberg’s arrest told the historian about Stalin’s pathological anti-Semitism. Etinger quoted Bulganin as saying that Stalin was “an anti-Semite both in his politics and at home…”15. In conclusion, paranoia on top of anti-Semitism became the basis of the policy of the Soviet Empire in relation to the Jews. Alexander Bovin (1930-2004), the last Ambassador of the USSR and correspondingly the first of the Russian Federation to Israel confirmed these lamentable circumstances in his book. He wrote in particular that “for a long time, anti-Semitism was virtually official policy in the USSR”(16).


As a rule, the first victims of state anti-Semitism were those Jews who appeared visible to the entire Soviet people. Even so, the range of those who suffered swung within a phenomenally broad spectrum: all the way from doctors to politicians. The famous “Doctors’ Plot” (1948-1953) bears witness to the first category, while all the criminal trials relating to prominent figures in the Bolshevist party does for the second. The English historian and journalist Paul Johnson turned his attention to the latter affair in his book, where he wrote that:
“Once Stalin who was deeply anti-Semitic, took power, the pressure on the Jews increased… Jews, especially within the Communist Party, were to constitute a wholly disproportionate percentage of Stalin’s victims… Stalin’s use of anti-Semitism in the leadership struggles of the 1920s and the purges of the 1930s was characteristic of him”(17).


The historian Nikolai Valentinov (1879-1964) describes the dictator’s single-minded anti-Semitism in his memoirs. According to him, the second Premier of the Soviet Administration Aleksei Rykov (1881-1938) complained to him about Stalin’s comment that: “We’ve weeded out all the Yids from the Politburo”(18).

More importantly, even the dictator’s children fell victim to his pathological hatred of the Jews. Soviet statesman Anastas Mikoyan (1895-1978), who was close to Stalin’s family, talked about this in his book. He recalled how relations between Stalin and his daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva (1926-2011) went into decline when she married “the student Morozov, who was Jewish by birth…Svetlana had a son by him. At this time, anti-Jewish feeling took on a sharp form in Stalin. He arrested Morozov’s father, an ordinary man, a complete unknown, claiming that he was an American spy bent on penetrating Stalin’s trust through his son’s marriage with the objective of passing on everything he saw to the Americans. Then he gave his daughter an ultimatum: if she didn’t divorce Morozov, he would be arrested. Svetlana stepped into line, and they divorced”(19).


The tyrant’s will destroyed his own daughter’s marriage, not taking account of the fact that his grandson and namesake Joseph Alliluyev (1948-2008) was born from this marriage.
The wife of Stalin’s son – Yakov Dzhugashvili (1907-1943) – was Yulia Meltzer (1911-1968). In 1939 Yakov had a daughter from this marriage: Galina Dzhugashvili (1938-2007). Literature relates an episode in which following his son Yakov’s incarceration by the Nazis, orders were given for the fate of his wife and granddaughter. In this manner, deciding the fate of his granddaughter, who he never saw, Stalin ordered: “Take her away to the old people at the Dalnyaya Dacha.” Regarding his son’s wife, the mother of his granddaughter, he decreed: “and send this Jewess from Odessa (he never called Yulia Meltzer by her name) to Krasnoyarsk Krai. Let her get a tan under the Siberian sun.” At which point Stalin’s interlocutor drew his attention to the fact that if Yakov’s wife were to end up among people, then rumors about his son’s imprisonment would be substantiated. Upon which he obligingly suggested the following: “Why not let her spend a while in prison, in solitary confinement, in good conditions, yet not allow her to associate with anyone…”(20). After brief consideration, Stalin agreed to this Jesuit proposal. This was how the dictator decided the fate of his own son’s wife and daughter. One historian narrated how at the end of 1948, Stalin ordered the arrest of all the Jewish wives of his close associates, including Polina Zhemchuzhina (1897-1970), the wife of the second most powerful figure in the Soviet imperial hierarchy: Molotov (21).

In this fashion, Stalin’s hatred of the Jews turned out to be stronger both than his love for his own grandchildren and than his prudent circumspection in his attitude towards his closest associates. To what extent this hatred revealed itself to be stronger than his “love” and “circumspection” with respect to the rest of his people does not bear talking about. The entire bloody history of the Bolshevik Empire stands witness to this fact.
Judging by events, explanation for the Soviet Union’s particular surge in anti-Semitism can be found in Stalin’s personal hatred and later his ethnic hatred for the legendary revolutionary Leon Trotsky (1879-1940). The famous Soviet spy Alexander Orlov (1895-1973) was one of the first to draw attention to the “root of evil”. In analyzing the extensive anatomy of criminal trials conducted during the period of The Great Purge in the 1930s, he noticed that:
“Everyone who was tried distinctly felt how Stalinist hatred and Stalinist thirst for vengeance directed at the faraway Trotsky pulsated throughout the place. The glow of this hatred was equaled only by the jealousy which Stalin felt for years towards the brilliant capabilities and revolutionary achievements of this man” (22).


Stalin’s own daughter supports him, not hiding in her memoirs how over time for her:
“It became obvious what an enormous role Trotsky played in the party and in the Revolution; to the extent that I knew my father’s character very well, the source of his anti-Semitism finally became clear to me. There can be no question that it was born of his fight over many years with Trotsky and his supporters, and that it turned slowly from political hatred to a racial feeling towards all Jews without exceptions. A single repetition of the names of all the people in the party whose account my father settled en route to his dictatorship would be enough for anyone to lose their mind…”(23). A number of researchers have drawn attention to this dark aspect of the dictator’s character.
In summary, the chief Bolshevik was also the chief anti-Semite of the Soviet Union. In many ways, his ineradicable hatred of the Jews became a determining factor not only in its internal but also in the outward-facing policy of the USSR. It is not necessary to go far to look for examples. The clearest by far is the devious murder on the 20th of August 1940 of Trotsky, who was surviving as an outcast in faraway Mexico. Why did Stalin order him killed? Trotsky hardly presented a military threat, and certainly had no influence on Soviet politics. In point of fact, he was an outlaw in the eyes of the whole world. What can have been the reason for this deceitful murder, for which his killer Ramon Mercader (1913-1978) earned the title of Hero of the Soviet Union on the 31st of May 1960, some 20 years after Trotsky’s killing and 7 years after Stalin’s death? It’s perfectly simple in fact: Trotsky was Stalin’s competitor in terms of his influence on the hearts and minds of people from different countries of the world. Trotsky had far greater authority than Stalin in their eyes. And this was sufficient cause for giving the order for his liquidation. In his status as unchallenged leader of the Soviet Empire, Stalin dished out such orders with ease. Mountains of literature are dedicated to this problem; Russian television has even run a special program by the name of “Stalin: Commissioner of murders (secret executions by order of the Kremlin)” (24).
Let us now turn our attention to the policy which the Soviet Empire was preparing to apply in Europe after the end of the Second World War. On the 6th of June 1944, the long-awaited Second Front opened in Europe. The Allies against Hitler were growing increasingly concerned about the question of how the world should be shaped following the end of the War. The most active supporter of negotiations regarding this question was, as is well known, the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965). In his memoirs The Second World War, he related how at the time of his visit to the USSR on the 9th of October 1944, he made a proposal to Stalin concerning the distribution of spheres of influence in Europe. By his recollection, this event took the following shape:
“The moment was apt for business, so I said, ‘Let us settle about our affairs in the Balkans. Your armies are in Romania and Bulgaria. We have interests, missions, and agents there. Don’t let us get cross-purposes in small ways. So far as Britain and Russia are concerned, how would it do for you to have ninety per cent, predominance in Romania, for us to have ninety per cent, of the say in Greece, and go fifty-fifty about Yugoslavia?’ While this was being translated I wrote out on a half-sheet of paper:
“Romania
Russia ………………………………………………… 90 %
Others…………………………………………………. 10 %
Greece
Great Britain (in accord with U.S.A.) ……. 90 %
Russia……………………………………………….. 10 %
Yugoslavia………………………………………………….. 50:50 %
Hungary…………………………………………………….. 50:50 %
Bulgaria
Russia……………………………………………………… 75 %
Others……………………………………………………… 25 %

I pushed this across to Stalin, who had by then heard the translation” (25). Thereafter this episode went down in history under the name of the “Percentages Agreement”.


Yet up until this historic meeting, the USSR was nurturing fully formed plans with regard to the post-war arrangement of a whole list of countries, including Hungary. An analytical memo from the 10th of January 1944, the Soviet Deputy Commissar of Foreign Affairs Ivan Maisky (1884-1975) confirmed that the following stance was held towards Hungary:
“The USSR is not interested in creating a strong Hungary. It is necessary to make it clear to Hungary, as to Italy, that the Allies has not forgotten her position in the present War. For this reason the policy of the USSR with regard to Hungary should resolve itself in such a way as to preserve the Hungarian government, but as far as possible to constrict its territory, in strict accordance with the ethnographic principle…At any rate for the first few years after the war, Hungary should be left in a state of international isolation” (26).


This document was subsequently named the “Maisky memorandum”. We may surmise that Wallenberg’s humanitarian mission, which achieved quite a broad international resonance, and his considerable authority in the eyes of the element of the Hungarian population which suffered more than any other comprised an obvious contradiction the Soviet leadership’s intentions. This line of argument is in full alignment with the conclusions of the authors of the Report of the Swedish-Russian Working Group, in which it was “Raoul Wallenberg probably told the Russians himself about his plans for assistance and the reconstruction projects, primarily for the Jewish population. The security services must have regarded these plans with suspicion and they definitely did not fit in with what the Soviet Union had in mind for Hungary”(27).


We should not let it slip from our view that Stalin had an exclusive opportunity to follow everything that happened on the territory of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, thanks to the fact that a number of top intelligence agents of Jewish extraction had been born there. Naturally there was no way that the facts of the unprecedented scope of Wallenberg’s activity in saving the Hungarian Jews could have escaped their attention. To this constellation of spies belong names which have become very well known even today, like Sandor Rado (1899-1981), Leopold Trepper (1904-1982), Lisa Rosenzweig (who in the history of Soviet intelligence-gathering went by the name of Elizabeth Zarubina (1900-1987)) and Jan Chernyak (1909-1995). We must bear in mind that all the information which they or their intelligence networks passed on to Moscow cast a positive light on Wallenberg’s mission. They can hardly have expected that any findings concerning the salvation of Jews can have produced an effect on Stalin the same as if they were waving a red rag to a bull. It is not out of the question that precisely this may have become one of the reasons behind subsequent purges. Immediately after the end of the Second World War, Rado and Trepper were given 15-year prison sentences, and Rosenzweig/Zarubina, regardless of her clear contribution to obtaining atomic secrets from the USA, was made redundant. Even though this does not bear direct connection to the theme, it is worth remembering here the murder of the chief of the Soviet foreign intelligence network, Abram Slutsky (1898-1938) with the help of cyanide right in the office of the Deputy People’s Commissioner for Internal Affairs of the USSR (28). Such were the customs of the Stalinist imperium.
It is particularly worthy of note here that Wallenberg’s family made its own contribution to the Soviet victory over Hitler’s Germany. Elisey Sinitsin (1909-1995), Soviet intelligence station commander in Stockholm, recorded interesting information about this little known fact. He remembered that in trying to help Wallenberg, he told Abakumov in the presence of the chief of the Soviet foreign intelligence network Pavel Fitin (1907-1971):
“that the diplomat Wallenberg was located in Budapest, having been assigned by the Swedish government to protect the interests of the Soviet Union in Hungary and to protect the Hungarian Jews from reprisals against them by German and local fascists. Wallenberg’s family in Sweden…never displayed any animosity towards the USSR. Quite the opposite – during the War, the Wallenberg factories scrupulously supplied the Soviet Union with high quality ball bearings and instruments, without which our Air Force could not have got off the ground. Virtually every day our aircraft crossed the front lines over Finland at night, landed in Sweden and transported these bearings back from there to our aircraft factories.
In 1944, one of the Wallenbergs was commissioned by the Soviet ambassador to Sweden Alexandra Mikhailovna Kollontai to travel to Helsinki to convince the Finns to begin talks with the Soviet Union over the agreement of a ceasefire: at that time we needed troops from the Finnish front to strike a decisive blow in Berlin” (29).


According to him, Abakumov refused in very rude terms to continue any further discussion of this question. This is fully explicable, insofar as Wallenberg’s fate hung entirely in Stalin’s hands.
One peculiarity of the Soviet dictator’s style in particular draws attention to itself here – his ingratitude. His attitude to Wallenberg’s family differs in no way whatsoever from his attitude to the fate of the aforementioned constellation of Soviet intelligence agents of Jewish extraction. The very same people who contributed to the national security of the USSR subsequently fell victim to state intolerance manifest in the chief consumers of their selfless exploits. The reasons for such behavior are apparently rooted in the character of Stalin; he experienced a pathological fear of any person, who on the strength of their place of birth, ethnic origin, knowledge of languages, analytical faculties and even their personal integrity and bravery could slip out of his control. Only from Stalin could such behavior be expected at any moment, taking into account the policy of state anti-Semitism, which he unswervingly brought to bear over the course of several years.
In short, as Hitler’s occupation of Hungary came to an end, what was essentially a Stalinist occupation began. In its day, Hungary belonged to the Habsburg Empire, on whose soil lived one of the most populous Jewish communities in Europe. Their representatives co-operated closely right up until the fall of the empire, and seemingly kept certain among these relationships alive after this historical event. During the Second World War, indigenous people emerged on the soil of the former empire and risked their lives in saving from certain death either one or a number of their compatriots of Jewish extraction. For reasons which are fully understandable, their exploits were secretive. Yet Wallenberg’s actions were practically visible to all. It stands to reason that his identity quickly became legendary in the eyes of the remainder of the Hungarian Jewish community. The Swedish historian and Uppsala University professor Paul Levine underlines this fact in his book (30).
Against this global geopolitical backcloth, the results of Wallenberg’s actions took on a special significance: in saving Jewish lives, he became by definition an enemy not just of Hitler’s Germany, but also of Stalin’s Soviet Union. In spite of the Holocaust, remnants of Jewish communities survived in European countries which were receiving a chance for a national renaissance with the help of international Jewish organizations. Consequently, because they were some of Nazi Germany’s most obvious victims, the Jews gained opportunities to rise to high stations in the economic and political sphere of these European countries. Wallenberg, who through his selfless actions saving the Hungarian Jews assumed authority in the eyes of the Jewish communities and of other countries, was fully perceivable as having the status of an agent of influence on these respective European countries. In fact, our hero was also a member of one of the richest and most powerful families in the Swedish financial world – the Wallenbergs. Soviet intelligence resources considered the bank under this family’s control to be:
“one of the financial pillars of the Zionist movement and in the same breath – of global masonry” (31).


Having said this, alongside his obvious responsibilities as a Swedish diplomat on Hungarian soil, Wallenberg additionally carried out a secret commission for the War Refugee Board. The WRB had been created in January 1944 by decree from the 32nd president of the USA, Franklin Roosevelt (1882-1945). One of the WRB’s tasks was the salvation of the Jews on European land under Nazi occupation. Taking advantage of his diplomatic immunity to carry out his assignment, Wallenberg was able over the course of several months to prevent the deaths of a significant number of Hungarian Jews. As his colleague Per Anger (1913-2002) confirmed:
“he was the only foreign diplomat to stay behind in Pest, with the sole purpose of protecting these people. And he succeeded beyond all expectations. If you add them all up, 100,000 or more people owed their lives to him” (32).

According to the data of several researchers on the total number of Hungarian Jews who survived, they turned out to be the largest Jewish population in Europe.
Yet effectively, Wallenberg’s mission of saving Jews as an act of mercy evolved into an act of geopolitical significance for Stalin. Taking into account the above-mentioned “Maisky memorandum”, this conclusion leaves no room for doubt. In order to capture the minds of the countries of occupied Europe, the Bolshevik ideology gave way to the gravy of internationalism and the inculpation of Nazi Germany’s crimes. In the eyes of the tyrant, this made our hero an extremely dangerous competitor in the sphere of influence of the internal politics of post-war Hungary, as well as of other countries which had previously belonged to the Habsburg Empire. Stalin considered himself to be a political player on a global scale. Yet at this stage in history, his geopolitical views had already permanently refracted through the prism of rampant anti-Semitism. One example that may be put forward in support of this theory is the Czechoslovakian “Slansky trial”. Following this brazenly anti-Semitic campaign, the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia Rudolf Slansky (1901-1952) and 10 other high-ranking Czech communists of Jewish descent were charged with “a Trotskyist-Zionist-Titoist plot”33. In accordance with the court’s verdict, they were executed on the 3rd of December 1952. As if to order, the Soviet mass media immediately let loose a dirge of anti-Semitic tirades. According to the memoirs of the famous Soviet writer Iliya Ehrenburg (1891-1967), they were called “toads in a clean spring”, who “dreamt of turning Czechoslovakia into a cosmopolitan fiefdom of Wall Street, where American monopolists, the bourgeoisie and Zionists would reign” (34).


This all boils down to the observation that everything connected to Jews in the field of geopolitics condemned people by definition to the danger of falling victim to the dictator. It is thought that precisely in this circumstance lurk the origins of the tragic fate of Wallenberg, insofar as the sovereign of the Bolshevist Empire never “condoned” other people even to have a shred of influence on the course of events of his political ambition. At some point he apparently did not condone Wallenberg either. As was extremely cautiously expressed in the Report of the Swedish-Russian Working Group:
“In the first place, Stalin probably had no time for Raoul Wallenberg and his humanitarian efforts; this was the time when Stalin intensified his anti-Semitic campaign” (35).


We might say that by saving Jews from death, Wallenberg became God’s messenger on Earth. Stalin, in killing people – became the living embodiment of the Devil. Not finishing his education at the Tiflis Theological Seminary, Stalin realized that in the eyes of all adherents of Judeo-Christian civilization, the figure of his prisoner was of enormous significance. Never meeting eye to eye, they nevertheless collided at a particular stage in history as representatives of two absolutely different worldviews, value systems and civilizations. From this point of view, Wallenberg’s entire activity in saving Jews from Hitler presented a personal challenge to him, to Stalin. As a matter of fact, both dictators had the same attitude towards political matters and towards the Jews. Vasily Grossman (1905-1964), as author of one of the 20th century’s greatest novels “Life and Fate” came to the conviction that “Stalin snatched the sword of destruction which had fallen from Hitler’s hands and raised it over the Jews of the Soviet Union, who had just escaped with their lives” (36).


Stalin remorselessly destroyed anyone who had the least authority, or who at the same time who could raise any doubt over the state policy of anti-Semitism. In this way, on the 12th of January 1948, Soviet Ministry of State Security officials secretly murdered the eminent Soviet actor and director Solomon Mikhoels (1890-1948). On the 12th of August 1952, 13 members of the European anti-Fascist committee were shot according to a verdict by the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR.

Hence by possessing international authority and throwing down a challenge to one dictator concerning attitudes towards the Jews on Hungarian soil, Wallenberg may have thrown a challenge to another one, yet on a significantly more extensive scale. Stalin, who rightly considered himself Hitler’s conqueror and his successor in the matter of the arrangement of Europe’s fate, could not allow such a thing to pass. Wallenberg should have to pay for his impudence in standing up to dictators. It didn’t matter which: Hitler or Stalin. As a result, he had to pay his dues in full accordance with the laws of devilish logic of any dictator: he had to disappear. Traces of the crime were carefully swept away in line with entrenched traditions. For precisely this reason, they arrested him, kept him under watch and even killed the innocent witness to the Swedish diplomat’s misfortune – his driver, a Hungarian of Jewish descent Vilmos Langfelder (1912 – after 1947).

The authors of the Report of the Swedish-Russian Working Group reached the most dismal conclusion, that: “attempts to suppress truth are a main thread throughout Soviet documentation”(37). This is an entirely explicable behavior of the representatives of the party in power over the former Soviet Empire. They were serving a dominion which the Nobel laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsin (1918-2008) named “The Gulag Archipelago”. In essence, they had their careers, reached high ranks, became recipients of state awards and prestigious prizes in a government which turned an innumerable quantity of other people into “prison camp dust”. Under such circumstances, it is impossible to present a more or less decent face to yourself, let alone to your contemporaries and descendants, without covering the traces of the numerous crimes of the penitentiary empire. That is to say, unless the rest of the leaders of present-day Russia want to conceal the criminal essence of the state which its people created and defended then, and still takes pride in today. Besides which they want to hide it from their own people, insofar as the international community already makes no illusions about the fact. We have to admit that their efforts coincide famously with people’s ambition to know nothing about this feature of the history of their own nation.

A number of Soviet archives are consequently inaccessible for independent research to this day. For example, the criminal trials of a number of Soviet secret police chiefs currently remain classified, including Nikolai Yezhov (1895-1940), Lavrentiy Beria (1899-1953), Victor Abakumov, Vsevolod Merkulov (1895-1953), Mikhail Frinovsky (1898-1940), Pavel Sudoplatov (1907-1996), as well as the long-serving head of the toxicology lab of the NKVD/Ministry for State Security and Colonel of the Medical Service Grigoriy Mairanovsky (1899-1964). Incidentally, one version of Wallenberg’s end has it that he was poisoned by a mixture prepared by precisely this laboratory. Having said this, it is worth making reference to the fact that of the 183 volumes of criminal proceedings concerning the execution of the Poles in the Katyn Forest (or Katyn Massacre) 116 volumes -including the decree relating to the closure of the case of the 21st of September 2004 – appeared under the label “top secret”. Even the date of Wallenberg’s death is just as secretly covered up, a point which the American researchers Vadim Birstein and Susanne Berger drew attention in their comprehensive article (38). Precisely this callous attitude to the fate of individual people, both in general terms with respect to the people and in specific terms with respect to prominent state administrators permitted the 40th President of the USA Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) to crown the nation which Stalin literally blinded in his own shape and form with the name “the evil empire” (39).

In conclusion, we must state that obviously Stalin’s mind, damaged by paranoia and anti-Semitism, is only “archive” which could have thrown light on the secret of Raoul Wallenberg’s death, and is already inaccessible to researchers. And of course, this “archive” has already sunk forever into the abyss, together with its grim custodian.

On the 18th of January 2001, in the building of the Russian National Library of Foreign Literature in Moscow, a memorial to Wallenberg was unveiled, the work done by the Italian sculptor Gianpietro Kudino. The memorial inscription on the monument reads:
“Raoul Wallenberg. 1912 – ? Swedish diplomat. During the Second World War, he saved more than 100 000 Jews from extermination” (40).

As we can see, a telling question mark hangs over the date of Wallenberg’s death to this day. We can bravely state a similar but even bolder mark after the question, which is to ask where is the conscience of this nation, which cannot bring itself to make its leadership shed the light of truth on this dark page of our history?

In the final analysis, I should like to apply the just verdict of the lawyer Aleksandr Muchnik, who noted that:
“If any basis exists for the notion that the Jews are ‘the Chosen people’, then it can only be in this sense: that the Lord created this people with a long-term plan – to test the integrity of all others in their attitude to this people” (41).


Both Wallenberg and Stalin, each in their own fashion, underwent this test. Ever since, Wallenberg has remained in the history of humankind as a symbol of its Conscience, while Stalin – for villainy without end. Regardless of Wallenberg’s tragic end in his moral duel with Stalin, we can only hope that in the history of Western Civilization, victory will always belong to Conscience.

1. Андрей Сахаров.  «Воспоминания». Часть 2, глава 29. http://www.sakharov-center.ru/asfcd/auth/?t=page&num=3946
2. «Катастрофа» – Краткая еврейская энциклопедия. /http://www.eleven.co.il/article/15341/,
3. Chaim Weizmann. Manchester Guardian, May 23, 1936, cited in A.J. Sherman, Island Refuge, Britain and the Refugees from the Third Reich, 1933–1939, (London, Elek Books Ltd, 1973), p.112, also in The Evian Conference — Hitler’s Green Light for Genocide by Annette Shaw
4. Raoul Wallenberg – «Report of the Swedish-Russian Working Group», Stockholm 2000
5. Sharon LaFraniere. «Moscow Admits Wallenberg Died in Prison in 1947; Family Dissatisfied with Lack of Details». Washington Post, 23 Decamber 2000.
6. Raoul Wallenberg – «Report of the Swedish-Russian Working Group». Stockholm 2000, p. 70.
7. Евгения Гинзбург. «Крутой маршрут». Часть 1, глава 26 «Весь коминтерн», http://ruslib.org/books/ginzburg_evgeniya/krutoy_marshrut-read.html#27
8. Per Anger. «With Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest», p. 170
9. Бар-Зохар М. I. «Бен-Гурион». Пер. с иврита Сима Векслер. Под общ. редакцией Якова Цура — Тель-Авив, Израиль: Яков Пресс, 1985, стр. 369, 373.
10. Kati Marton. «Wallenberg: Missing Hero», p. 160
11. Безыменский Л.А. «Будапештская миссия». /http://modernlib.ru/books/bezimenskiy_lev/budapeshtskaya_missiya/read_8/
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16. Бовин А.Е. «Записки ненастоящего посла». Москва, 2001, с. 24.
17. Paul Johnson. «A History of the Jews», p. 454, 569.
18. «Сталин» — Электронная еврейская энциклопедия. /http://www.eleven.co.il/article/13935/
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20. Успенский В.Д. «Тайный советник вождя». / http://tululu.ru/read16451/472/
21. Ратнер Лазарь. «Избранные инородцами». Мигдаль Times № 51 /http://www.migdal.ru/times/51/4753/?print=1/
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23. С.И. Аллилуева. «Только один год». /http://www.belousenko.com/books/alliluyeva/alliluyeva_one_year.htm/
24. «Заказчик убийства – Сталин (тайные убийства по команде Кремля)». – Эхо Москвы, 2.01.2010 г. / http://www.echo.msk.ru/programs/staliname/645178-echo/#element-text/.
25. Winston S. Churchill. «The Second World War». Volume 6, Triumph and Tragedy, p. 198.
26. Записка руководителя Комиссии Народного комиссариата иностранных дел (НКИД) СССР по возмещению ущерба, нанесенного Советскому Союзу гитлеровской Германией и ее союзниками, И.М. Майского народному комиссару иностранных дел В.М.Молотову по вопросам будущего мира и послевоенного устройства от 10 января 1944 г. /http://www.hrono.ru/dokum/194_dok/19440110may.php/
27. Raoul Wallenberg – Report of the Swedish-Russian Working Group, p.63
28. Слуцкий А.А. Хронос. Биографический указатель. /http://hrono.ru/biograf/bio_s/sluchki_aa.php/
29. Цит. по Безыменский Л.А. «Будапештская миссия». http://www.modernlib.ru/books/bezimenskiy_lev/budapeshtskaya_missiya/read_7/
30. Paul Levine. «Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest», p. 338
31. Безыменский Л.А. «Будапештская миссия». /http://modernlib.ru/books/bezimenskiy_lev/budapeshtskaya_missiya/read_8/
32. Per Anger. «Quoted in the article Righteous Among the Nations by Norm Nason»
33.  Slansky trial, http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Процесс_Сланского
34. Эренбург Э.Г. «Люди, годы, жизнь». Книга VI. /http://tululu.ru/read68287/157/
35. Raoul Wallenberg – Report of the Swedish-Russian Working Group, p.166
36. Василий Гроссман. «Жизнь и судьба». /http://lib.ru/PROZA/GROSSMAN/lifefate.txt/
37. Raoul Wallenberg – Report of the Swedish-Russian Working Group, p.177
38. Vadim Birstein and Susanne Berger. «The FSB Should Open Up the Wallenberg Files». Moscow Times, 11 October 2011.
39. President Reagan’s Speech before the National Association of Evangelicals Orlando, Florida on March 8, 1983.
40. «Памятники жертвам политических репрессий на территории бывшего СССР» http://www.sakharov-center.ru/asfcd/pam/pam_card4797.html?id=397&pic=1
41. Мучник А.Г. «Философия достоинства, свободы и прав человека». Рукопись второго издания /первое издание: Парламентское издательство. Киев, 2009 г./

 

Translated from Russia to English by Patrick Evans

 

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