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Guy von Dardel’s introduction to the report of the Independent consultants

  • Guy von Dardel

This month the Swedish Foreign Office (UD), will present  the final report
of the Swedish – Russian Working Group on the fate of Raoul Wallenberg (RW)”
about its ten year long investigation. In addition, the four independent
experts to the Commission, will issue separate reports on their findings
based on thorough examination of Russian archives, in particular those of
the Vladimir prison. These investigations cover a period of about 10 years
since the beginning of the Working Group.

There is however a prehistory, stretching back to 1945 when RW was arrested
by Soviet troops in Hungary, and started a long and obscure transit through
Soviet prisons and camps.

While in the beginning the Swedish Foreign Office  carried the main burden
for the efforts to clarify RW:s fate, it soon became apparent that their
efforts had to be supplemented by independent investigations and pressure on
the Soviet Union. In the first place, I should mention Raoul ‘s and my
mother, Maj von Dardel, as well as my father, Frederik von Dardel, his
stepfather, who until their deaths in 1979 carried the heavy burden of
ensuring that everything was done to solve RW:s fate. They were helped by
many ardent collaborators, such as the Czech author Rudolph Philipp who
wrote the first Swedish book about RW:s achievements and was the first to
claim that RW:s later fate was far from certain; and Birgitta Bellander who
organised a joint committee of the major Swedish RW movements. This
initiative, outside of the UD, later evolved into the Swedish RW-Committee,
which for a long time was headed by Sonja Sonnenfeldt.

My own role was at first limited by my professional duties as an
experimental nuclear scientist, although these also gave me the opportunity
to visit the Soviet Union and to seek the advice and support of my Soviet
colleagues. I should particularly mention Andrei Sakharov and Elena Bonner,
who went as far as to follow up some of the possible traces of RW, and who
kept up their interest for my brother far into the Gorbachev era,  until
Andrei Sakharov’s early death in 1991.

My sister Nina Lagergren and I collaborated in a number of succesfull
attempts to get international pressure for the release of RW and a full
acounting for his fate.  As an example, on a visit to Israel in the early 1980’s
Menachem Begin made an attempt to have RW:s case taken up at the Vienna summit meeting.

Since the early 80’s I have collaborated with Marvin Makinen, professor
of Biochemistry at the University of Chicago, who was himself  imprisoned
in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. He sat for a year in the prison of
Vladimir, where he shared a cell with a Latvian prisoner, Zigurd Kruminch,
who was probably an informant and who had previously been imprisoned with
the American U2 pilot Gary Powers. Another prisoner told Makinen that
Kruminch had for a time shared a cell with RW.

In an attempt to put more pressure on the Soviets to release RW or to
account convincingly for his fate, a group of US legal firms on RW:s behalf
sued Russia for substantial damages for keeping RW in jail without cause.
While we won the case in the first instance, the US government or higher
court  later reversed the  verdict.

At the UN Human Rights Conference in 1989 in Geneva I met with the head of
the Soviet Delegation, and later with  the Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister
for Human Rights, Anatoly Adamishen. We agreed to study the possibilities
to create a  joint  international investigation into RW:s fate. Our idea was
to establish an International Forum composed of mainly unofficial members
from various countries. A contact person at the Soviet Delegation at the UN
Offices in Geneva was appointed to handle further discussion between the two
of us.

These contacts may have been instrumetal when six months later I and my
sister Nina Lagergren received an invitation to Moscow by the Soviet Foreign
Office for a meeting in late 1989.  To our surprise the Russian authorities
at the meeting handed over a number of RW:s belongings, his diplomatic
passport, substantial amounts of foreign currency, the prison card
confirming his arrival at Lubianka prison on February 6, 1945,  his
addressbook and his calendar. The Russian claim was that these items had
been found just a short time before during a cleanup in the cellar of
Lubianka prison, the KGB headquarters.

At this meeting we were also presented with the original of the so called
Smoltsov note, supposedly signed  by the Lubianka prison doctor, A. L.
Smoltsov, in which he claims that RW died of a heartattack in his cell in
Lubianka prison on July 17, 1947. This document had already served as the
basis of the so-called Gromyko memorandum from February 6 1957, and which
ever since had been the basis of the Soviet position on RW.

Following our visit in Moscow we had  an opportunity to visit Vladimir
prison, some 250 km east of Moscow. There we were able to examine  a few
selected prisoner cards, out of  a total of some the
“kartoteka”.We found those for Makinen, Powers, and for some other prisoners
known to us, but the archive contained no card  for RW.

During a week in 1991 a Russian – International research team again went
through all 100.000 cards in the card registry  (Kartoteka) and carried  out
a more detailed study of some 2000 judicially chosen cards, which were
copied and analysed. While the project was entirely inofficial we had very
valuable help from the Swedish embassy with Ambassador Örjan Berner and the
interpreter  Magnus Dahnberg.
Our team was composed on the Russian side mainly of members of the Human
Rights organization ‘Memorial’, with Arseni Roginski, Nikita Petrov, Kronid
Lubarski, and Sergei Kovalyov, and by the staff of the Vladimir prison
archive. The then-Chairman of the KGB, Vadim Bakatin, was a strong supporter
of the project.

In a week of hard work the group went through all 100.000 cards, and
selected and photographed some 2000 cards which were judged to be of
particular interest, such as all foreign prisoners, all prisoners already
known to us  e.g. returned prisoners of war.

We found no card with the name of RW or of his driver, Vilmos Langfelder.
What we did find was the existence of “numbered prisoners” who were
registered not under their name but under a number. It seemed possible that
RW might be hidden in this nameless category. Later investigations by Marvin
Makinen and his  collaborator Ari Kaplan  have taken up this hypothesis,
together with certain other criteria for “important prisoners” and
information provided by the prison staff, which  strongly indicates that RW
had indeed been in  the Vladimir prison well beyond the official 1947 death
date .

After the return of  the working team, Theodore Nemec in Stockhom, of Czech
origin but fluent in Russian, deciphered and translated to English some 2000
cards. The original Russian and the Eglish versions were computerised and
stored on computer discettes for further analysis.

While the number of cards were too small for a proper analysis to be carried
out, these early investigations laid the groundwork for the much more
sophisticated methods developed by Marvin Makinen and Ari Kaplan with the
support of the Swedish Russian Working group.

After the August putch it became evident that a more permanent and official
structure would be needed to carry the research forward. This  led to the
creation, at the Foreign Ministry level, of the present Swedish-Russian
Working Group which now after almost 10 years is ending its work, in my view
prematurely, since a lot of work is still to be done. The Working Group
on the Russian side is lead by  the current chairman Vyacheslav Tuchnin.
Other members on the Russian side include the head of the prison sections of the MVD,
Konstantin S. Nikishkin, and the archivist of the FSB, Vladimir K. Vinogradov.

The Swedish side has been headed since the beginning in 1991  by
ambassador Hans Magnusson, without whose untiring efforts there could have
been no results. On a higher level we had the support of Cabinet secretary
Jan Eliasson. We had a particularly close collaboration with the staff of
the Swedish Embassy, Moscow, especially Mats Foyer, Anders Wallberg, Eva
Tojzner-Glückman and Stefan Gullgren.  We have also had some contact with the
Russian Embassy staff in Stockholm, who gave us valuable assistance for our
contacts in Moscow.

Other official Swedish members are at present Ambassador Jan Lundvik who,
with valuable experience from his time in Hungary and Russia, remains
concerned about RW’s fate. I also want to mention Ambassador Martin
Hallquist and the retired head of Swedish Security Police, Carl Persson.

Equally closely associated with  the Working Group are the “Independent
In addtion to Marvin Makinen who has already been mentioned these include
Susan Ellen Mesinai and Susanne Berger.
Susan Mesinai  first came into the picture in 1990 within the ARK Project,
with the aim of locating prisoners of war in Russia and succesfully
identified two US prisoners detained in USSR since World War II. Her
experience and findings have allowed her to do valuable investigations of
Russian archives and medical facilities, including those of  various
psychiatric hospitals. In the research for RW she  developed techniques to
follow the “paper trail” of prisoners through the records in their files,
the prison ‘kartoteka’,  and transport records of the local or central
administrations responsible for handling prisoners.

Susanne Berger has a background in both Economics and Forensic Sciences.
Together with her wide language experience, this has allowed her to
conduct reviews of both open and classified materials in Russian, American,
German and Swedish archives, including those of the Swedish Security
Police(SÄPO), in search of new facts about RW. She has in particular studied
the background of the RW case, including possible reasons for his fate and
the failure to gain his release.

As the most important result of all of our efforts, it has become clear that
direct access to documentation is essential for getting credible results .
Even if some documentation related to the RW case may have been destroyed,
more than enough archival material remains. The three reports included in
this volume clearly illustrate that real progress towards determining RW’s
fate can and will be made if direct access to crucial documentation is obtained.

The immediate need is to address efficiently the numerous important
questions arising from the enclosed reports, and to do this as quickly and
thoroughly as possible.

In conclusion I am, as Raoul’s halfbrother, truly grateful for the help and
support extended from the Russian and Swedish official sides and from the
many who have supported our efforts. I am optimistic that our effective
cooperation will continue until RW’s true fate has been determined.

Although I have tried to give full credit to the many important contributors
to the search for RW, both on the official and inofficial and on the
Russian, Swedish and International side, I realize that much critical help
may  not have been properly accounted for in this much too short
presentation. I give everyone I have not mentioned my  sincere thanks.

Guy von Dardel                                           Champery,  January 12, 2001
Professor em.

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