Letter from the family about the Moscow conference

15-05-2012, by Letter from Raoul Wallenberg's nearest family,
Academician Alexander Chubaryan
The Institute of World History
Russian Academy of Sciences
Leninsky Prospekt 32a
Moscow 119334

Geneva, 11.05. 2012
Dear Mr Chubaryan,
We wish to thank you for the invitation we received to attend the special conference on May 28, 2012, entitled “Raoul Wallenberg – 20th Century Hero”, which is being organized by your Institute, under the broader auspices of the Russian Foreign Ministry (MID) and in co-sponsorship with the Swedish Embassy, Moscow.
We received our invitations very late and only after inquiring with Swedish Embassy officials about the process of how such an invitation could be obtained.
We commend your efforts and appreciate the hard work you have expended to make this conference meaningful and successful.
However, we feel very strongly that sixty-seven years after Raoul Wallenberg’s disappearance in Russia we should expect more than an academic discussion.
Twenty years have passed since the end of the Soviet Union. From 1991-2001 extensive official bilateral efforts were conducted to discover the full circumstances of Raoul Wallenberg’s fate in Soviet captivity.
The work undertaken during this period – first by The International Commission on the Fate of Raoul Wallenberg, led by my husband/our father Guy von Dardel, and later, The Swedish-Russian Working Group – was truly pioneering and successful in many ways.
It included a first ever review of prisoner card registries in Vladimir prison, the former Soviet Union’s most important isolator facility. Independent experts of the Working Group also carried out ground breaking studies of prisoner files and related archive documentation, as well as a complex database analysis of the prisoner occupancy of Vladimir Prison. These efforts would not have been possible without the extensive assistance and cooperation provided by Russian authorities and we wish to express once again our deepest gratitude for this cooperation.
This work provided vital new insights and offered many important leads about how the question of what happened to Raoul Wallenberg might be pursued further. At the same time it must also be said that again and again, at crucial junctures, answers to essential questions were not forthcoming.
The Swedish-Russian Working Group ended its work in 2001 and there was hope that clarity about outstanding questions could be gained by researchers continuing their studies in Russian archives.
However, ten years later, we must unfortunately conclude that only very limited progress has been made, in spite of truly significant new information coming to light during this period.
Two and a half years have passed since archivists of the Russian State Security Service (FSB) revealed that a “Prisoner No. 7” who is believed to have been Raoul Wallenberg was interrogated on July 23, 1947. This interrogation occurred six days after what Russian authorities have consistently claimed as Wallenberg’s official date of death, July 17, 1947. Repeated requests to provide access to a set of related documentation has remained unfulfilled for all these months.
The matter is obviously of central importance to solving the Wallenberg case, as are numerous other requests for access to still classified documentation. This includes important questions related to the numbering of prisoners in the Soviet system that were raised by researchers as far back as 1991, and again in 1999; as well as access to key foreign intelligence files that could provide valuable insights into the reasons for Raoul Wallenberg’s arrest and with that, important clues about the handling of his case in the Soviet bureaucratic system.
We are fully aware that solving complex and sensitive cases like that of Raoul Wallenberg demands time and patience. But we hope you understand that our patience has been sorely tested. As a main example we cite the fact that Russian authorities for ten years have refused to identify an unknown Swedish prisoner held in Vladimir Prison during the 1950’s and early 1960’s. The answer to this simple question could move the case dramatically forward, yet we have waited in vain for a resolution.
We have always pursued a cooperative approach and continue to believe that it is the only way forward . Given the current situation, however, we have decided not to attend the conference on May 28. We ask instead that before we travel to Moscow, Russian authorities provide answers to some of the key questions we have just outlined and which have been pending since 2001.
We also propose an alternate official symposium, away from the official conference, of Russian and international Wallenberg experts with the specific task to formulate a plan of action, a ‘blue print’ that can be followed to finally resolve the Wallenberg case. This ‘blue print’ should define core questions that remain in the search for Wallenberg’s fate and methods for resolving them. Once such a core plan has been established, a small group of qualified experts should be provided with special authority to review the essential archival collections, including still classified material.
We would be very happy to attend such a meeting, one that is devoted to creating a systematic, comprehensive approach to finally resolve what happened to Raoul Wallenberg.

Sincerely yours,


Matilda von Dardel
Louise von Dardel
Marie Dupuy


Attn. Ambassador Tomas Bertelman
Embassy of Sweden
60 Mosfilmovskaya St.
119 590 Moscow

Raoul Wallenberg and the chief actors before Budapest

14-05-2012, by Craig macKay,

Adler-Rudel’s visit to Sweden

While Raoul Wallenberg’s detention by the Soviet organs and his final fate in Russian hands still remain matters for speculation , there has, by contrast, been a steady and useful accumulation of material disgorged from non-Russian archives casting new light on the broader context of his mission to Budapest . This has been valuable because the mission itself- and not just its aftermath – is worthy of careful historical study. The present essay is to be seen essentially as a contribution to an ongoing process of contextualization – that is to say, placing the mission in context . In particular , it aims at improving understanding of some of the preliminary work paving the way for the Swede’s eventual dispatch to Hungary in mid-1944. In a year devoted to celebrating Raoul Wallenberg’s individual contribution to rescue efforts, it is easy to lose sight of a familiar truth: most of what is worthwhile in life is not the product of a moment and the work of a single person. Rather it is something which is embedded in a historical process and depends on the efforts – not always successful – of many different people with different skills.

Read more > Adler-Rudel’s visit to Sweden

Figthing for the Truth in the Wallenberg Case

04-05-2012, by Susanne Berger and Vadim Birstein, ed. The Moscow Times

…Indeed, the insistence on the truth about one man marks the starting point in the ongoing struggle to define and protect universal rights for all human beings. Remembrance, too, is vital, but it is not enough on its own. Victims need more than memorials. Wallenberg’s brother, Guy von Dardel, expressed this sentiment in a speech some years back: « The truth can and will be found, and it will be a monument more durable than marble. »

The question of how one balances the rights of the individual versus the interests of the state is as current today as it ever was. For this debate alone, historic truth is critical, and a democratic society has to insist on full disclosure. That is precisely why Raoul Wallenberg matters so much today. One can only hope that the continued insistence on the truth about his fate will be yet another lasting legacy of his case.

Read more:http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/fighting-for-the-truth-in-the-wallenberg-case/457965.html#ixzz1w09600fn
The Moscow Times

Swedish Investigation into Fate of Raoul Wallenberg Must Continue

24-04-2012, by M. Grunberg, S. Berger, D. Matas, ed. Jerusalem Post

With Russia’s failure to produce conclusive evidence about the fate of Raoul Wallenberg in Soviet captivity, the Swedish Government must continue to press for direct access to essential archives and to locate  witnesses who may have factual information about what happened to the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from Nazi persecution in 1944, only to disappear himself in the Soviet Union in 1945.

For decades Russia has claimed that Raoul Wallenberg died on July 17, 1947 in Moscow’s Lubyanka prison. Yet, in 2009,  Russian officials  finally admitted  that Wallenberg had been interrogated as late as July 23, 1947, six days after his official death date.  It also became clear that Russia had intentionally withheld this crucial fact from an official Swedish-Russian Working Group that had investigated Wallenberg’s fate from 1991-2001.
In spite of numerous requests  to Russian authorities to produce uncensored copies of the July 23, 1947 Lubyanka interrogation register and related documents, Russian officials so far have not released any additional records to show what happened to Raoul Wallenberg after this date. The  new information proves that vital documentation about  the case continues to exist in Russian archives and that the case can and should be solved.
Russian officials have repeatedly stated that  they “continue to assist Sweden in replying to specific requests for additional information about the fate of Raoul Wallenberg.” However, Russian officials have not allowed  scholars access to a variety of key files and materials that remain classified  in  Russian archives and that are  essential for solving the case.
In addition to the previously cited prison interrogation registers, this material includes Soviet foreign intelligence records from Hungary and Sweden for the period 1943-1945 which would shed light on the reasons why Soviet authorities decided to arrest Wallenberg; and uncensored access to investigative files of a number of prisoners closely associated with Raoul Wallenberg in captivity, as well as  key correspondence records between the Soviet security services and the Soviet leadership, such as the Central Committee and the Politburo, and other Soviet agencies, such as the Russian Foreign Ministry, which would reveal how Soviet leaders handled Wallenberg’s before and after 1947.
Until this documentation has been reviewed, no final conclusions about Wallenberg’s fate can be drawn.
What is the Swedish government  doing to ensure that Russian authorities provide access to this documentation? The answer is, unfortunately, « not much ».
As stated on the Swedish Foreign Ministry’s website, the full clarification of  Wallenberg’s fate remains an important priority:
« The main purpose of research studies should be to produce conclusive evidence regarding Raoul Wallenberg’s ultimate fate and, if he is still alive, enable him to return to Sweden. » (http://www.sweden.gov.se/content/1/c6/01/84/44/0b07128c.pdf)
However, the Swedish Foreign Ministry considers the Wallenberg case a historical issue and has therefore chosen  not  to make any direct requests for  clarification about « Prisoner Nr. 7 » to Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev or his elected successor, the current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.  Instead, official Swedish demands have been limited to asking Russia merely for an « open archival policy ».
On January 17, 2012  the Associated Press widely reported that in 1991, Russia’s Security Services had actively interfered with the work of the  first official International Wallenberg Commission when it was  trying to review  relevant records in Russian archives.   Swedish Foreign Minister Card Bildt immediately announced that he would be sending  Ambassador Hans Magnusson  on a  fact finding mission to Moscow to determine what additional  information about Raoul Wallenberg’s fate remains available in Russia.
As former Swedish Chairman of the Swedish-Russian Working Group, Magnusson is well qualified for the task.   However, while the dispatching of  a special emissary to Russia to request an « update » about the Wallenberg case is undoubtedly welcome, implementing procedures to ensure meaningful access to  important documentation  so that a credible investigation can be conducted is quite another.  It remains to be seen how the Swedish Foreign Office structures this new official inquiry so that it will not  turn out to be simply a play for the galleries.
Unfortunately, both Mr. Bildt and Mr. Magnusson have  already publicly stated that “we should not have great expectations” of about the new efforts, essentially consigning the inquiry to failure before it has even gotten off the ground. This attitude is unfortunate, especially since Mr. Bildt  apparently felt that additional official steps  in the Raoul Wallenberg case had become warranted.
A scheduled conference on Wallenberg in Moscow on May 28, 2012, coordinated  by the Institute for Contemporary History of the Russian Academy of Science and co-sponsored by the Swedish Foreign Ministry will address the question of Wallenberg’s fate only indirectly and  the issue will receive only a fleeting mention in the  week-long program surrounding the conference.
Over more than six decades, Sweden has made surprisingly little efforts to engage  international organizations and institutions in the search for Raoul Wallenberg. It took a full six years after Wallenberg’s disappearance, until 1951, before Swedish officials asked U.S. authorities for assistance in the case. In 1995, the International Red Cross headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland confirmed  that « the subject of  … Raoul Wallenberg is known to us only from the press and different campaigns organized on his behalf. » Although the head of the Swedish Red Cross Folke Bernadotte had sent an appeal to help locate Raoul Wallenberg to his Soviet counterpart by January 1947, no official case  record seems to have ever been established with the ICRC.
Similarly surprising is the fact that  Sweden has so far not filed a formal motion concerning Raoul Wallenberg with the U.N. Working Group on Enforced Disappearance. The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, was adopted on December 20, 2006 by the UN General Assembly and   came into force on December 23th 2010. The convention specifically safeguards the rights of the victims and their relatives  « to know the truth regarding the circumstances of the enforced disappearance, the progress and results of the investigation and the fate of the disappeared person.”
With the help of other countries, Sweden could  pursue additional ways to press Russia for the truth about Raoul Wallenberg.
On April 19, the U.S. Congress honored Wallenberg, who is an honorary citizen of the U.S.,  with  the Congressional Gold Medal.
As it happens, the U.S. Senate  is currently debating the repeal of the so-called Jackson-Vanick Amendment. Adopted in 1974, that Amendment has long been a thorn in Russia’s side since it makes trade with Russia contingent on allowing Jewish immigration.

Is reconciliation for the Holocaust possible?

17-04-2012, by David Matas,

(Revised remarks prepared for the Law Society of Upper Canada, Osgoode Hall, Toronto, Ontario, 17 April 2012) by David Matas
This panel is titled « Commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day 2012, Remembrance, Reconciliation, Restitution: Is there a way to right the wrongs of the past? »   The wrongs of the past to which the title refers are the Holocaust.  The question the title of the panel asks is whether there is a way to right the wrongs of the Holocaust.
The title provides a suggested answer to the question, that there are three ways to right the wrongs of the past. Those three ways are remembrance, reconciliation and restitution.
My first reaction to the subject matter of this panel is that there is no way of righting all the wrongs of the Holocaust.  The killing of six million innocents can never be made right.
I do not suggest we thrown up our hands in reaction to the Holocaust.  On the contrary, the Holocaust tells us much we can and should do.  But we should be under no illusion.  Even if everything we try to do gets done, the Holocaust will never be made right.
What then is the value of reconciliation, restitution or remembrance?  Though not all wrongs of the Holocaust can be made right, some can.  Restitution for the survivors and remembrance of what happened have an intuitive sense.  Individual survivors and the surviving community should be compensated as best they can for what they suffered.  We should never forget what happened.  Forgetting would be killing the victims a second time, murdering their memories.
However, the very idea of reconciliation for the Holocaust gives one pause.  Who is to be reconciled with whom about what?  Are the victims expected to reconcile with their murderers about the Holocaust?  The very suggestion shows its impossibility.  The victims are dead.  They cannot reconcile with anyone.
Are those not killed in the Holocaust supposed to reconcile with the killers about the murder of others?  Again the question itself raises its own answer.  We have not been given any authority by the murdered victims to reconcile with their murderers on their behalf. For us to reconcile with the murderers would be presumptuous. As well, some crimes are so awful that there is simply no scope for reconciliation.  Reconciliation for mass murder is a form of impunity.  Reconciliation for one mass murder is a license for the next.
Reconciliation as a concept became fashionable after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa reported in October 1998.  That Commission, chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, dealt with the crime of apartheid.
As awful as apartheid was, the bulk of its victims survived.  The South African report addressed reconciliation of the victims who survived with their victimizers, not reconciliation of the dead with the living.
As well, South Africa distinguished between reconciliation and amnesty.  Amnesty was not permitted for the most heinous crimes.
Yet, it is impossible to say of the Holocaust that a part of it was a most heinous crime and a part was not.  It was all heinous in the extreme.
Third, reconciliation in South Africa occurred in a specific political context.  The perpetrators were in power.  Bringing them systematically to justice, however ideal it might seem, was a political impossibility.  If the prospects of systematic justice were real, the white minority which ruled South Africa would have never have given up power.
We have no such political context with the Holocaust.  Nazi Germany was unconditionally defeated in World War II.  We did not have to negotiate Nazis out of power with promises of reconciliation.   There is certainly no political need for reconciliation now.
We are seventy seven years from the defeat of Nazi Germany.  Most of the perpetrators have by now died.  It made little sense for reconciliation immediately after the war when the victims were dead and the perpetrators were alive. It makes even less sense now when both perpetrators and victims alike are now gone.
So, is reconciliation just a trendy term picked up from another context and applied inappropriately to the Holocaust?  In spite of everything I have just said, I would suggest not. There is a scope for reconciliation, not between the murderers and the victims, nor between the murderers and those who survived but between Canada and Canadians.
The Canadian state which existed during the Holocaust continues to this day.  There has been no regime change between then and now. Legally, the Canadian state which existed then is the same legal entity which exists now.   In law, the Government of Canada today is responsible for what the Government of Canada did yesterday.
When we consider what Canada did during the Holocaust, the record is bleak.  Canada, our home and native land, during the Holocaust was antisemitic. It denied asylum to Jewish refugees fleeing persecution and afterwards gave a haven to Nazi war criminal fugitives from justice.  It was easier to get into Canada after World War II if you were a Nazi war criminal than it was to get into Canada during World War II if you were a Jewish refugee.   So there is a need and scope for reconciliation, not with the murderers for the Shoah, but with the Canadian state for what the state did and did not do about it.
How do we do that?  How do we reconcile ourselves today with what Canada did yesterday?  I have eight specific suggestions to make.
Revoke the citizenship of Vladimir KatriukIt is far too late to make right the wrong of giving a haven to Nazi war criminals in Canada.  Too many have died natural deaths in Canada either before cases were brought against them or while they were going through the courts.  Nonetheless, there remains still a couple of cases where action can be taken.
One of these is the case of Vladimir Katriuk. The Federal Court held in January, 1999 that Katriuk had lied his way into Canada, hiding his Nazi past. Mr. Justice Nadon found that Katriuk was a member in the Schutzmannschaft Battalion 118 and participated in its activities in Belarus, including antipartisan operations.  In spite of that, the cabinet in May 2007 decided not to revoke the citizenship of Katriuk.
Justice Nadon in 1999 observed that he was not prepared, on the evidence before him, to conclude that Katriuk committed or participated in the commission of war crimes.  This observation may have played a part in the decision of the cabinet not to revoke the citizenship of Katriuk.  The League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada challenged in Federal Court the 2007 cabinet decision not to revoke the citizenship of Katriuk. The League argued that the statute did not give the cabinet power to do this once the Federal Court had found he entered by Canada by false representation or fraud or by knowingly concealing material circumstances.  The Federal Court ruled in June 2009 in favour of Katriuk.  The Federal Court of Appeal affirmed that decision in November 2010.
Since then new evidence about Katriuk has emerged.  In March, 2008, the Belarus government released the records of the 1986 trial of Hryhorii Vasiura for his participation in the March 1943 murder of all 149 residents of the village of Khatyn.  These records show that Vladimir Katriuk was a commander of a platoon in the battalion which perpetrated the massacre and that Katriuk personally opened fire with a machine gun on the defenceless villagers.
In June 2011, B’nai Brith Canada wrote to the Government of Canada requesting that the Government of Canada reconsider its decision not to revoke the citizenship of Vladimir Katriuk in light of subsequently discovered evidence.  We have yet to receive an answer to that request.
Revoke the citizenship of Helmut OberlanderThe Government began revocation of citizenship proceedings against Helmut Oberlander January 27, 1995, alleging that he had obtained citizenship by false representation or fraud or by knowingly concealing material circumstances, through hiding his complicity in Nazi war crimes. The Supreme Court of Canada remarked in 1997 that the delays in this case and others were « inordinate and arguably inexcusable »; that the dilatoriness « defies explanation ».
The Federal Court found against Oberlander on February 28, 2000.  The Federal Court held that Oberlander was a member of Einsatzkommando 10a, a unit that systematically carried out mass executions of civilians, particularly Jews, in the occupied Soviet Union.
The Governor in Council revoked the citizenship of Oberlander August 21, 2001.  In May 2004, the Federal Court of Appeal quashed the revocation of Oberlander’s citizenship for procedural reasons.
The cabinet revoked the citizenship of Oberlander a second time May 17, 2007.  The Federal Court of Appeal quashed the revocation a second time November 17, 2009, again on procedural grounds.  The case of Oberlander has been now pending before cabinet for a third decision for almost three years.  There is no excuse for sitting on this case.
Open up Nazi war crimes archivesNazi war crimes archives must become accessible.  Though many Nazi war criminals in Canada did not have to account to justice, every Nazi war criminal who was in Canada should account to history.  The Task Force on International Cooperation on Holocaust Education Remembrance and Research asserts in its Stockholm Declaration of 2000 the principle of opening up archives bearing on the Holocaust to researchers.  Canada is a member of the International Task Force.  Its National Task Force in November 2011 asked the Government of Canada to establish a central registry for all Nazi era war crimes files of the Government.  There should be no need to go to several different registries in a variety of departments to seek the relevant information.
Each catalogue entry in the central registry should indicate the name of the individual to whom the file relates.  Where the person has died, the catalogue entry should state the date of death.
The registry should be kept up to date.  The date of death of any person for whom there is a file should be entered into the catalogue of the registry as soon as the Government of Canada becomes aware of the date of death.
Release the Rodal reportThe Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals headed by Mr. Justice Jules Deschênes hired Alti Rodal to write a report on the history of war crimes efforts in Canada. This report is available through Access to Information with many deletions all of which are unjustifiable.  Attempts to get the full uncensored report have been met with either refusals or silence.
Ask Russia to release documentation about Raoul WallenbergRaoul Wallenberg is Canada’s first and was for sixteen years our only honorary citizen.  As a Swedish diplomat in Budapest in the closing days of World War II, he saved tens of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust.  When the Soviets took over Hungary, he disappeared into its gulag.  His fate has never been satisfactorily explained.
For decades the Soviet Union and then Russia claimed that Raoul Wallenberg died on July 17, 1947 in Moscow’s Lubyanka prison. Yet, in November 2009, Russian FSB archivists, in a formal reply to questions from researchers, stated that « with great likelihood » Wallenberg became « Prisoner No. 7 » in Moscow’s Lubyanka prison in 1943 and that « Prisoner No. 7 » had been interrogated on July 23, 1947, that is to say, six days after the date of his supposed death.
Russian officials since have not granted researchers access to a variety of key files and materials that would allow a determination of Wallenberg’s fate.  These include• procedural details for the assignment of numbers to prisoners under investigation;• the complete July 23, 1947 Lubyanka interrogation register;• the letter Minister of State Security Viktor Abakumov wrote to Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov on July 17, 1947 about Raoul Wallenberg; • Soviet foreign intelligence records from Hungary and Sweden for the period 19431945 which would shed light on the reasons why Soviet authorities decided to arrest Wallenberg; • uncensored access to investigative files of a number of prisoners closely associated with Raoul Wallenberg in captivity; • correspondence records between the Soviet security services and the Soviet leadership, such as the Central Committee and the Politburo, which would reveal how Soviet leaders handled Wallenberg’s file before and after 1947.
Canada raised with Russia the issue of archival access to unravel the Wallenberg mystery at the level of Ministers of Foreign Affairs at the time that Bill Graham was the Minister and got a response that in substance said that the relevant files were not within the control of that Ministry.  If Canada is to advance this dossier, the issue will have to be raised at the head of state level. To avoid Russia’s putting off such a request as a Swedish Russian bilateral matter, something I have seen in the past, any Canadian request should be made in cooperation with Sweden.
Engage in an effective effort to combat hate speechOne of the lessons of the Holocaust is the need for an effective effort to combat hate speech.  Though the Weimar Republic had laws against hate speech, they did not work.  If eliminationist antisemitism had been effectively combatted in the years before 1933, the Holocaust would never have happened.
Canada, both federally and provincially, has engaged in a plethora of efforts to combat hate speech. The laws suffer from two extremes.  Some laws, the criminal laws, are almost dead letters, rarely invoked. Other laws, the civil human rights laws, are too easily used, indeed abused, harassing innocents and threatening freedom of speech.
Bill C-304, currently before Parliament, attempts to deal with the abuse of the federal human rights telephone and internet jurisdiction over hate speech by abolition of the jurisdiction.  Though the Bill was introduced privately by a Member of Parliament, the Government is supporting it and it will become law.
Yet, there is a need for a civil legal remedy for hate speech; the abuse can be controlled, without abolition of the remedy, through legal reform.  In particular, civil human rights laws should • ensure full disclosure to the target of the complaint, • not allow for the making of anonymous complaints, • give the power to award costs to the target of a complaint,• require the complainant to choose only one forum or venue, and• screen cases even where commissions do not conduct the cases.
The coming abolition of the federal jurisdiction should not serve as a model for the provinces.  It should be a warning though that the provincial laws cannot be left as they are or they too will become vulnerable to campaigns for their abolition.
It is unsatisfactory to abolish a civil remedy open to abuse and leave standing only a criminal remedy which is almost never invoked.  Obstacles to use of the criminal law need to removed.  Reforms of the criminal law should include  • banning racist groups, • giving courts the authority to allow impact statements from victim groups targeted by hate speech, • including hate motivation as a constituent element of aggravated offences rather than just an aggravating factor in sentencing,• removing the defense of truth from the offence of incitement to hatred, • setting out guidelines for the exercise of the consent of the Attorney General for prosecution, and • legislating a specific offence of Holocaust denial.
Combating antisemitism does not just mean combating the myths that were in the minds of Nazi killers at the time of the Holocaust.  Antisemitism is a transmuting virus; Holocaust denial is one of its modern forms.  To remain true to the combat against antisemitism, we have to stand against whatever form it takes.
Protect refugeesProtection of refugees is a lesson which the Holocaust should teach us.  Since 1956 and the Soviet invasion of Hungary, Canada has often been better than others in the protection of refugees.  However, it has been far from ideal.  The Canadian refugee protection system now both overseas and inland suffers from a myriad of defects.  As well, amongst the reform proposals now before Parliament, some would make matters better; others would make matters worse.
Overseas, Canada needs a refugee determination which is far more fair and professional than the present one.  Determinations should be done by expert independent professionals, not by jack of all trades visa officers.  Elementary rules of procedural fairness should be respected.  The Government of Canada should lift the cap for 2012 for private sponsorship of refugees and abandon the proposal that privately sponsored refugees must be recognized either by a state or the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Inland, the legislation before Parliament to introduce an appeal to the refugee protection determination system is welcome.  Less welcome though are the proposals for mandatory detention for up to twelve months of refugee claimants from designated groups, a prohibition on their obtaining permanent residence until five years after a claim is made, and artificial restrictions on the right of appeal.
When we think of refugee protection, we have to keep contemporary situations in mind. Yet, we must not forget the Holocaust and its lesson that refugee protection is a safety valve and a statement of opposition to the persecution refugees flee.
Support the existence of the State of IsraelThe State of Israel is the expression of the right to self determination of the Jewish people.  While the right to self determination does not mean statehood in every case, it certainly must for the Jewish people who have been unable to escape persecution without a state of their own to protect them.
Israel is the only state out of 193 now members of the United Nations whose very existence is under constant attack.  One form that attack takes is attempts at delegitimization through demonization.
The existence of Israel has generated yet other post Holocaust mutations of the antisemitism virus.  Antisemitism denies to the Jewish people of a broad range of rights.  Since the advent of the State of Israel, antisemites reject for the Jewish people the right to self determination.  As well, the wars against Israel’s existence and in particular the delegitimization through demonization of the Jewish state have led to demonization of the Jewish people world wide as actual or presumed supporters of this supposedly demon state.
Canada has recently been so supportive of the existence of the State of Israel, in some cases being the only voting state to oppose demonizing resolutions in UN bodies, that to ask Canada for more may seem unnecessary.  Yet, there is more that could be done, support for the cause of Jewish refugees from Arab countries.
Superficially, this issue may seem to have little to do with either Israel or the Holocaust.  Many Jewish refugees from Arab countries did not go to Israel.  As well, Jewish refugees from Arab countries fled or were expelled for the most part after and not during the Holocaust.
Nonetheless, there are links.  The lesson we learn from the Holocaust about the need for rights and redress for refugees should apply to post Holocaust Jewish refugees.
As well, one component of the demonization of Israel is attributing the blame for the victimization of the Palestinian people to the existence of the State of Israel, rather than where it properly belongs, with the anti-Zionist movement.   Raising the issue of Jews from Arab countries combats the demonization campaign by reminding us that there were two refugee populations created by the Arab wars against the existence of the State of Israel and that the Jewish population displaced from Arab countries was greater than the Palestinian population displaced from the territory of Israel. It would be useful, for instance, if the Canadian Parliament passed a resolution, like the American House of Representatives already did in April 2008, stating that a Middle East peace agreement must address the rights of all refugees created by the conflict, including Jewish refugees.
ConclusionReconciliation, in relation to the Holocaust, then does have a place, though not with the perpetrators of the Holocaust, nor even with the Canadian antisemites of days gone by.   I do not suggest we reconcile with the ghosts of Fred Blair or Vincent Massey who were instrumental in denying Canadian protection to Jewish refugees, nor with the immigration officials who relaxed criteria which allowed the admission to Canada of Nazi war criminals, nor to the RCMP officials who refused to investigate Nazi war criminals in Canada once they arrived.  Yet, the instrument that Blair, Massey and others used to deny protection to Jews and to give immunity to Nazis remains with us today, the Canadian state apparatus.  That state apparatus no longer belongs to the antisemites of yesteryear.  It belongs to us. To make Canada our Canada, Canada has to do what it can to right its wrongs of the past.  That is a reconciliation effort worth making…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….David is an international human rights lawyer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba and honorary senior counsel to B’nai Brith Canada.

New world exclusive 1943 photo on Raoul Wallenberg


World exclusive, previously unknown photograph of Raoul Wallenberg.


Photo attached to Raoul Wallenberg 's visa application to travel to Hungary from June, 1943, Hungarian National Archives, Budapest




Raoul Wallenberg var inget oskrivet blad

12-04-2012, by Susanne Berger, Vadim Birstein, DN,

Hittills okända uppgifter visar att Raoul Wallenbergs resa till Budapest 1944 föregicks av nära kontakter med antinazistiska, västvänliga och judiska kretsar i Ungern, något som i efterhand tonades ned av oro för sovjetiska misstankar.

F. v. Dardel, dagboksanteckningar angående R. Wallenberg, 1970-1971

31-03-2012, by Fr. von Dardel,

F. von Dardel,  dagboksanteckningar


Exclusive new 1944 document of Raoul Wallenberg


A passport application from 1944 applied by Raoul Wallenberg at the Riksarkivet, Stockholm

(Source: Riksarkivet, via S. Berger)

Exclusive new document 1943 and photograph of Raoul Wallenberg


A passport application from 1944 applied by Raoul Wallenberg at the Riksarkivet, Stockholm

(Source: Riksarkivet, via S. Berger)