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Swedish Investigation into Fate of Raoul Wallenberg Must Continue

    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.” (
    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.

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