Research Update on Raoul Wallenberg

19-02-2008 , by Susanne Berger

Raoul Gustaf Wallenberg (1912-?) Swedish business man and diplomat.

The question of what exactly happened to Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg after his 1945 disappearance in the Soviet Union remains one of the biggest unsolved mysteries of the Cold War period.

In July 1944, Wallenberg was selected to go to Budapest to help protect the local Jewish population from fierce Nazi persecution. His humanitarian mission was supported and financed by the U.S. War Refugee Board and other entities, including the American Joint Distribution Committee. Since Germany’s occupation of Hungary in March 1944, about 500,000 Jews had been deported from the Hungarian countryside to concentration camps in Poland and Czechoslovakia. By the time Wallenberg arrived in Budapest, only about 250,000 Jews remained in the capital.

Through the distribution of Swedish protective passports and the implementation of a well organized support network which provided food, clothing and protective housing, Wallenberg and his wide array of co-workers from all strata of Hungarian society managed to extend vital aid to thousands of people. In January 1945 Wallenberg was arrested by Soviet troops in spite of his status as a diplomat representing a neutral country. He was subsequently taken to Moscow where he disappeared. In 1957, Soviet officials announced that he had succumbed to a heart attack in Lubyanka prison in 1947. This claim has never been substantiated. Soviet authorities presented as their only proof a note from the head of Lubyanka’s sanitary department, A.L. Smoltsov. The origin of this document remains unclear, and important questions persist about its content. Over the years, witnesses have reported seeing Raoul Wallenberg in different prisons and camps throughout the Soviet Union. None of these reports have been confirmed, but many fundamental questions remain.

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