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Research on Raoul Wallenberg: A Listing of Priorities

  • Ministry for Foreign Affairs Stockholm, Sweden

The Reference Group for Support to Independent Research on Raoul Wallenberg, established by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Sweden in April 2002 in order to advise the Ministry on research grants, has established the following guidelines for evaluating applications in terms of relevance of subjects proposed for research. -> MoreThemes for Research on Raoul Wallenberg: A Listing of Priorities

• 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.

• At the same time, there are several aspects of his own activities before his arrest by the Soviets, as well as political background features to his mission in Budapest, which deserve attention by researchers, either because they shed light on his work, or because they may have influenced Soviet handling of him.

Having in mind these considerations, the Group regards the following issues as the most significant to investigate in order of priority.i

1. Soviet decisions on his case in July 1947. In particular, what did Abakumov tell Molotov in his letter of 17 July 1947, and where is this document? What is the background to and importance of the Smoltsov note of 17 July 1947? If Wallenberg was excuted, who took the decision? If he was held in isolation, where are the relevant papers, for instance the full records of numbered prisoners for Vladimir and comparable prisons, in particular for the years 1945-57, and related materials?

2. The order to arrest Wallenberg and send him to Moscow was signed, according to documentary evidence, by Deputy Minister of Defence N. Bulganin. It is, however, not known whether the real decision was taken by someone else, and if so, by whom. Nor do we know exactly when the decision was taken. What were the reasons for this decision, and did the reasons change with time?

3. Some additional documentary evidence on Wallenberg is likely to exist in Russian archives. Research proposals regarding specific collections, preferably backed up by reasonable prospects of access, are welcome. This applies in particular to archives within the intelligence and security establishments. For instance, the files on Tolstoy-Kutuzov in the SVR archives remain inaccessible. Research proposals focusing on possible systematic document destruction are also welcome.

4. With regard to documents made available to the Swedish-Russian Working Group by the archives of MID and other authoritiesii, the Group has arranged for creating a database containing data from all the documents, allowing customized and systematic searching. It will be available in early 2004 and will greatly enhance the possibilities to analyze and structure the material. Meanwhile, proposals for research in these archives which do not depend on immediate use of the database are welcome.

5. In view of the great number of witness accounts regarding Wallenberg after July 1947, the database referred to above will cover these as well, permitting systematic searching. While work on the database is still in progress, research proposals regarding specific witnesses and based on new source material are welcome.

6. Did the Soviets try to indicate that they were interested in an exchange of prisoners with Sweden? Why did the Swedish side at times display passivity in the Wallenberg case, in particular in 1945-47?iii

7. With very few exceptions, all archives in Sweden are accessible and have been used by researchers, but in some other relevant countries there are archives which are not available or have not so far been screened, at least not fully, for possible information on the Wallenberg case. In particular, Hungarian archives have been relatively little used so far. US and possibly UK intelligence archives may contain crucial information, with respect both to Wallenberg’s time in Soviet hands and to possible contacts with him while he was working in Budapest.

8. Several official representatives of neutral states, of Germany and of its allies were arrested by Soviet forces towards the end of World War II in much the same way as Raoul Wallenberg. Many citizens of other countries were also taken prisoners. Comparative studies of Soviet criteria for arrest and patterns of accusations and treatment might put the case of Raoul Wallenberg in a broader perspective. Similarly, the methods generally used to conceal the whereabouts of those arrested may shed light on his specific case.

9. There are many accounts of the situation of Sweden’s legation in Budapest in 1944 and the work of Wallenberg and his colleagues to save the Jewish population, but there is no professional historical analysis. Also, it is not quite excluded that Raoul Wallenberg may have been able to spare some time for business, perhaps related to his contacts in the Wallenberg bank run by the cousins of his father, or to his job in Stockholm before he left for Budapest with an export-import


firm with interests in the Hungarian market. Further, in his endeavours to save Jews he had reasons to keep in touch with individuals and groups of political significance, i.a. within the anti-fascist resistance in Hungary as well as with high-ranking officials loyal to Germany and with Fascist collaborators. These are examples of possible activities that may have had an impact on his fate.

i As points of departure the Group has used a listing in the report by the Swedish side of the Swedish-Russian Working Group, published in January 2001 (cf. footnote 2), pp. 180-182, and an independent study commissioned by the Group and completed in August 2002. This study by Göran Rydeberg, Raoul Wallenberg: Historik och nya forskningsfält /Raoul Wallenberg: The Story and New Fields of Investigation/, mimeo, 107 pp., is at present available in Swedish only.


ii Cf. the report published in January 2001 by the Swedish side. It is available both in English and in Swedish at The English translation was also printed by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (Raoul Wallenberg: Report of the Swedish-Russian Working Group , Stockholm: Fritzes, 2000. Ministry for Foreign Affairs, New Series II:52) and may be ordered from Fritzes Kundtjänst,


iii A report of an official investigation of the handling of the Wallenberg case within the Ministry for Foreign Affairs was published in March 2003 (Ett diplomatiskt misslyckande. Fallet Raoul Wallenberg och den svenska utrikesledningen, with summary in English). The investigator, a Governor and former Minister of Labour for the Liberals, was assisted by six experts, all of them highly qualified researchers.



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