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August 2011

Surprised Again – New Documentation about Raoul Wallenberg’s Cellmate Surfaces

    Willy ROEDEL from Dieter Roedel's archive

    The recent publication of two statements written for Soviet interrogators by Willy Rödel, Raoul Wallenberg’s cellmate in Soviet captivity, are the clearest sign yet that Russian archives still contain critically important documents in the Wallenberg case.

    * Russian authorities are believed to have intentionally withheld at least fifity-seven pages from Rödel’s file

    * The missing documentation most likely contains important information about Raoul Wallenberg

    Since the beginning of the Swedish-Russian Working Group in 1991, researchers have tried to obtain as much information as possible about Raoul Wallenberg’s fellow prisoners during his time in Soviet captivity. Over the years, the Russian side provided a number of documents about Willy Rödel, Wallenberg’s long-term cellmate in Moscow Lefortovo prison from 1945-1947. However, we were never allowed to see these papers in the original, nor were we allowed to examine the file from which they had supposedly originated. Officials of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB, successor of the KGB) also routinely insisted that no records of Rödel’s interrogations had been preserved.

    Therefore, we were enormously surprised when we came across a new book with a very long title, “Secrets of the Third Reich Diplomacy: German Diplomats, Leaders of Foreign Military Missions, Military Policemen and Police Attaches in Soviet Captivity. Documents from Investigation Files. 1944-1955”, just published in Russian as part of a series of publications by Aleksander Yakovlev Foundation (Moscow). It contains full texts of interrogation protocols of and statements written by a number of German diplomats captured by the Soviets at the end of WWII, including two statements from none other than Oberfuehrer SA Willy Rödel ! The included documents were selected, compiled, and commented on by two FSB archivists, Dr. Vasilii Khristoforov and Vladimir Makarov. In fact, Lt. General Khristoforov heads the FSB Directorate of Registration and Archival Fonds to which all FSB archives belong, including the FSB Central Archive from which we received answers to our research questions in the Wallenberg case, while Makarov is a researcher at this archive.

    The two statements by Willy Rödel date from December 26, 1944 and January 14, 1945, respectively, before Rödel shared a cell with Raoul Wallenberg. Rödel, a former Political Adviser to the German Ambassador Manfred von Killinger in Bucharest, became Wallenberg’s cellmate in March 1945, mostly in Lefortovo Prison, one of three Moscow state security investigation facilities. The two men were held together at least until about March 1947, when both were transfered (separately) to Lubyanka Prison.

    In the now released statement made in January 1945, Rödel describes the activities of Sturmbannfuehrer SS Gustav Richter, Police Attache at the German Embassy, Bucharest and a German consultant of the Romanian government on the so-called “Jewish question”. This is an interesting fact, since Soviet investigators placed Raoul Wallenberg in Richter’s cell in Lubyanka Prison, shortly after his arrival in Soviet captivity in February of 1945. While it does not have any bearing on our current discussion, the mere existence of Rödel’s statements in the FSB archives is more than noteworthy.

    Khristoforov and Makarov indicate that the originals of Rödel’s two statements are kept in file PF-9653 at the FSB Central Archive. It appears that this file was also the source for materials that were presented to the Swedish Working Group back in April 1993, when Russian officials turned over a set of documents about Willy Rödel.

    The documentation offered by Mr. Khristoforov’s predecessor, Konstantin Vinogradov, included Rödel’s prisoner card, an envelope containing personal items, such as his passport, a full copy of his death certificate and an autopsy report. The documents indicate that Rödel was held in Lubyanka Prison until October 1947, when he suddenly died of a heart failure (which is extremely suspicious) during a transfer to the Krasnogorsk Camp for POWs in the Moscow suburbs.