Other Swedes in the Gulag complicate Raoul Wallenberg search

22-08-2012, by Susanne Berger, ed. The Local

Possibilities of unknown Swedes and Raoul Wallenberg in Vladimir prison and throughout the Soviet Gulag. By removing a major element of confusion, proper identification of three unknown “Swedish” Red Cross officials would undoubtedly help to move the search for Raoul Wallenberg a big step forward.

In October 1956, in his first interview with Swedish officials after his release from Vladimir prison, Austrian citizen Otto Schöggel stated that while in Vladimir in the spring of 1955, he had briefly spent time with a Swedish prisoner.

Makinen and Kaplan, together with Raoul Wallenberg expert Susan Mesinai, are currently investigating the statements of several other former prisoners who say they met a Swedish prisoner in Vladimir, accused of espionage, in the years 1955 -1970.

More about swedes in the Gulag and the Raoul Wallenberg search

Plea by Paris lawyer on behalf of journalists imprisoned in Eritrea

17-02-2012, by Ambroise PIERRE,
Reporters Without Borders (http://www.rsf.org)

8 February 2012


Just two weeks from now, 22 February, is the third anniversary of a raid on Radio Bana in central Asmara in which about 50 journalists were arrested. Most were released but at least 11 are still held and are in solitary confinement. Reporters Without Borders continues to campaign for them and other journalists who are imprisoned in Eritrea, some since September 2001.


Prisca Orsonneau, a Paris bar member and coordinator of the Reporters Without Borders Legal Committee, participated in the final of the Caen International Human Rights Advocacy Competition on 29 January. Her speech, entitled “Beautiful Asmara, denied its Jasmine Revolution,” was a plea on behalf of Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaac and other journalists who, like him, have been held for more than ten years in Eritrea without being brought to trial.


See the video of her plea: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xo8wah_23e-concours-de-plaidoiries-des-avocats-la-belle-asmara-privee-de-jasmin-le-memorial-de-caen_webcam

The plea was latest initiative that the Reporters Without Borders Legal Committee has taken in coordination with the Reporters Without Borders section in Stockholm and two Swedish lawyers, Jesus Alcala and Percy Bratt.


In July 2011, a Habeas Corpus petition was sent to the supreme court in Asmara requesting Dawit’s immediate appearance in court under Eritrea’s constitutional and criminal code provisions and international obligations. The court has so far refused to acknowledge receipt of the petition. As no Eritrean lawyer dares to raise the matter with the court it is hard to know whether the petition will succeed and will eventually shed light on the situation of the detainees.


Naizghi Kiflu, an adviser to President Issaias Afeworki and information minister at the time of the September 2001 crackdown, died in London on 6 February. Together with the London-based human rights NGO Redress and the Eritrean exile activist Elsa Chyrum, Reporters Without Borders had called in vain for Naizghi to be tried in Britain for the acts of torture for which he was responsible in Eritrea (http://en.rsf.org/eritrea-naizghi-kiflu-the-dictatorship-s-21-05-2008,27109.html).


The disastrous situation in Eritrea continues to be overlooked for the most part by the international community. Eritrea was nonetheless ranked last for the fifth year running in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index that was released on 25 January (http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2011-2012,1043.html).With at least 34 journalists detained, Eritrea is the world’s third biggest prison for media workers, after China and Iran.


More information on media freedom in Eritrea:


Read the Reporters Without Borders Eritrea country file: http://en.rsf.org/report-eritrea,15.html


Read the latest press releases on Eritrea: http://en.rsf.org/eritrea.html


See the latest Reporters Without Borders campaign ads on Eritrea:





Watch a presentation video about Radio Erena, an independent Eritrean radio station based in Paris:



Read Les Erythréens (The Eritreans), a French-language book by writer and journalist Léonard Vincent that was published last month by the Paris-based publishing house Rivages: http://en.rsf.org/the-eritreans-a-moving-account-by-27-01-2012,41773.html

Ambroise PIERRE
Bureau Afrique / Africa Desk
Reporters sans frontières / Reporters Without Borders
 CS 90247 – 75083 Paris Cedex 02
Tel : (33) 1 44 83 84 76
Fax : (33) 1 45 23 11 51
Email : afrique@rsf.org / africa@rsf.org
Web : www.rsf.org
Twitter : RSF_Africa

Report about the work of the Swedish-Russian Working Group on disappeared Swedish ships during the Cold War

08-06-2011, by S. Berger and K. von Seth,


The investigation conducted by a joint Swedish-Russian Working Group about Swedish ships lost during the Cold War leaves many important questions unanswered.

Review shows that Poland informed Sweden about discovery of the wreck of the ship « Dan » in 1993

The Swedish Foreign Ministry has not disclosed the information publicly because the official Swedish-Russian Working Group formed in 1993 to investigate the disappearance of Swedish ships during the Cold War never produced a final report. Surprisingly, Swedish officals did not seek independent verification of the find, explore the cause of the sinking or ask Polish authorities about the fate of the crew. The newly discovered information also raises questions about other Swedish vessels that vanished off the coast of Poland from 1946-1955.

In August 1993 the Polish Foreign Ministry informed an official Swedish-Russian Working Group examining the cases of about seventeen Swedish vessels that had disappeared during the Cold War that the wreck of a ship that matches the description of the « DAN » had been discovered already in 1957 in Polish territorial waters. [Document 1] According to internal UD documents, the « Wreckbook » of the Polish Navyshows that the boat was found 3.5 km north of Jastrzębia Góra and was partially lifted already in 1964. The memo further states that since the debris was discovered at the bottom of the sea, it was assumed that the crew had gone down with the ship and that there were no survivors (UD Arbetspapper, 2001-9-27.) The suspected cause of the sinking was a mine. The « Dan » had originally been believed to have gone missing with a seven person crew somewhere outside of Latvia.

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New details emerge about disappearance of Swedish ships in the Cold War

15-12-2010, by Susanne Berger and Kerstin von Seth, ed. Contra

In 1948 Swedish military officials considered the possibility that the loss of the ships « Iwan » and « Kinnekulle » had not been accidental, but that they had been delivered « intentionally » into Russian hands, in retaliation for Swedish smuggling operations.

Months earlier, in November 1947, Foreign Minister Oesten Undén personally met with a Swedish captain questioned by Polish authorities about smuggling activities by Swedish ships.

Also, on at least one occasion the Swedish Defense Staff used a Swedish commercial vessel to infiltrate a secret agent into Poland in 1946.

All these issues may have had serious implications for Swedish ships traveling the dangerous Gdansk-Trelleborg corridor during the Cold War years.

New documentation obtained from the archives of the Swedish Defense Staff (MUST) and the Swedish Security Police (SÄPO) shows that as early as 1946 Swedish civilian and military authorities had detailed knowledge about illegal smuggling operations of various goods and refugees from Eastern Europe conducted by Swedish ships. The papers also make clear that there existed at least a routine exchange of information between the Swedish State Police, the Customs Office, as well as the Swedish Foreign Ministry and Defense Staff on the subject at the time. There is evidence that by November 1947 Foreign Minister Östen Undén was so concerned about the problem and its wider political impact, that he held an official meeting with a Swedish captain after a prominent Polish politician had fled to Sweden on the captain’s ship.

The secret traffic, however, also flowed in the opposite direction. The new papers reveal that the Swedish Defense Staff on at least one occasion used a Swedish vessel to smuggle a secret agent into Poland. According to records from MUST, the head of Försvarsstaben, Utrikesavdelning, Curt Kempff, in August 1946 personally authorized the transfer of a Polish agent onboard a Swedish commercial vessel. These actions raise important new questions about the disappearance of Swedish ships in the Baltic sea in the Cold War years.

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EU governments must support Eritrea’s prisoners of conscience

24-05-2010, ed. The Guardian

Eritrea has held Swedish journalist Dawit Isaak without charge for eight years. The west must stand up to this brutal regime.

While we cannot be sure that there is a heaven, three weeks ago we received partial confirmation that hell is a reality with a known location. Its address is the infamous Eiraeiro prison in Eritrea, 10 miles north of the capital city Asmara, where 35 high-level political prisoners of the Eritrean regime have been held captive in recent years.

Fifteen of these prisoners are known to have died, nine are suffering from serious medical problems and the others are enduring brutal prison conditions. One of them is the journalist Dawit Isaak, a Swedish citizen, who was first detained in 2001. He was briefly released in 2005, only to be rearrested again within days. In all of his eight and a half years of detention, he has never been formally charged with a crime. Isaak and nine journalist colleagues were arrested seemingly for nothing more than criticising the lack of press freedom and democratic debate in Eritrea.

The most recent revelations of a former prison guard who managed to flee to neighbouring Ethiopia in January, and whose information was first reported in Sweden in April, make clear that Isaak and other inmates are kept in horrendous circumstances. They are not allowed any contact with the outside world or with each other. Their cells are brutally hot almost all year round. They are constantly shackled and the only time they leave their cells is to spend one hour per day in a walled courtyard measuring four square meters. The men receive virtually no medical care and many appear to be psychologically broken.

According to a former guard, who fled because he feared for his own life if the prisoners died, the deprivations suffered by the inmates are « worse than torture ». Under pressure from critics, the Swedish government has repeatedly refused comment, asserting that it is doing everything it can to rescue Dawit Isaak. The Swedish public, Isaak’s family and human rights activists are increasingly concerned, however, that Isaak, who suffers from diabetes, may be lost before help reaches him. Their concerns appear well justified.

Why, for example, have Swedish officials so far not bothered to interview the escaped prison guard?

We would like to stress that we do not completely discount the value of silent diplomacy. While we fully appreciate the enormous difficulties and complexities of the case, the question that presents itself most urgently is, what can we all do together to save Isaak before it is too late? Efforts at the EU level, such as seeking the suspension of aid to Eritrea, as well as applying diplomatic pressure on the regime, are vitally important. The EU process is slow and bureaucratic, and the representatives’ attention is currently diverted by the spreading global financial crisis.-> More


Hur sjönk « Sten Sture »?

01-02-2010, by K. von Seth, S. Berger, L. Borgolin, ed. Dagens Nyheter

Den 25 januari 1947 försvann det svenska handelsskeppet S/S ”Sten Sture”. Fartyget hade levererat malm till Gdansk och var destinerad till Helsingborg med last av kol. Ombord fanns minst 18 besättningsmän, bland dem sjökapten Gösta Rudnert.

Det förmodades under alla år att fartyget förlist nordost om Bornholm efter att ha seglat på en mina. Stewarden Manfred Jönssons kropp flöt i land på Bornholm i april 1947. Den övriga besättningen förmodades också ha drunknat, och inga övriga undersökningar genomfördes.
I februari 1948 försvann ytterligare två svenska fartyg utanför Gdansk, ”Kinnekulle” och ”Iwan”, med totalt 18 personer ombord.Medan bara vrakdelar påträffades av ”Iwan” återfanns ”Kinnekulle” flytande men tom på danskt vatten. > More

The Disappearance of « SS Sten Sture » and its Crew.

22-10-2009, by Karin von Seth,

The Swedish DC-3 & The Destiny of its Crew

01-04-2008, by Roger Älmeberg,

On June 13, 1952 a Swedish Air Force C-47, the military version of the famous DC-3, disappeared while on a secret mission over the Baltic Sea.  After an interrupted code-signal from the plane at 11:25 Swedish time, the plane and its crew of eight men were never heard from again.  The disappearance of this plane, much later known as the “DC 3 Affair,” is still a sensitive chapter in Sweden’s Cold War history.  In spite of evidence from intensive research in the archives of a number of nations, some facts in the DC 3 Affair are still classified or unknown.  Thus the destiny of these men remained unresolved for more than fifty years.

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Fler svenskar i Moskvas fångläger

05-07-2002, by Susan Ellen Mesinai, ed. Dagens Nyheter

Regeringens Wallenbergutredare kräver besked om nedtystade försvinnanden:

Minst tre hittills okända svenskar har försvunnit i fångläger i dåvarande Sovjet. Svenska myndigheter och regeringar har lämnat samtliga fall utan åtgärd. Minst fyra vittnen har träffat svenskarna, men i Sverige har försvinnandena tystats ner. Dessa uppgifter redovisas på DN Debatt av regeringens egen Wallenbergutredare Susan Ellen Mesinai…

more DN… > More

Mysteriet M/S Kinnekulle i skuggan av det kalla kriget

01-01-2000, by Jan Sjöberg, ed. Göteborgs Universitet Historiska institutionen

Fyndet på havet

Fredagsmorgonen den 20 februari 1948 gick den danske fiskekuttern H 1386 Marie av Jyllinge ut från Rödvig på Själlands östkust. Den vinterkalla Östersjön var orolig. Sjön gick hög och vindstyrkan var 7 beaufort (14-17 m/sek). Temperaturen –20o C. Det var kända vatten föraren Christian Simonsen (f. 1913) och hans medhjälpare Holger Gunnar Andersen (f. 1919) och Valdemar Jensen (f. 1928) färdades i. Samtliga var från Jyllinge.

För snart tre år sedan hade det andra världskriget slutat, och ockupationsmakten Tysklands styrkor tvingats bort från såväl land som sjöss. Men farorna på Östersjön var därmed inte borta. Minorna från kriget gjorde havet osäkert. Handelsfartygen var emellertid anvisade vissa leder, som var mindre farliga, och som egentligen skulle vara fria från minor. Men alla minor var inte alltid avlägsnade.

I och med freden hade dock inte krigsfartygen försvunnit från Östersjön. Andra världskriget följdes ju av det kalla kriget. Världen delades upp i två maktblock, öst och väst, med totalt motsatta idéologier. En järnridå hade fällts ned kring öststaterna, som Winston Churchill beskrev tillståndet i Europa, och misstroendet mellan makterna var i det närmaste totalt. En rädsla för varandra piskades upp på båda sidor, och en tid efter krigsslutet grep något av en rysskräck folket.

Men av detta kände sannolikt inte de tre danska fiskarna något för stunden, när de som enda Rödvigsbåt kämpade sig fram över Östersjöns höga vågor. Efter någon timmes färd omkring nio sjömil sydost Rödvig påträffade de klockan 10.30 ett starkt nedisat fartyg utanför Stevns Klint söder om Köge bukt, drivande för ost sydostlig kuling mot land. De kunde inte identifiera den tremastade skonaren, möjligen utläsa bokstäverna K i n g. En brand hade troligen härjat på akterdäcket, som även syntes vattenfyllt. Försvarslöst mot vågor och vind och angripet av kraftiga ismassor gav det övergivna fartyget ett spökligt intryck. Ett drama måste ha utspelat sig i Östersjöns iskalla vatten.

Fartygets livbåt var förtöjd i aktern med en cirka 20 famnars lång stålwire. Den flöt med kölen upp, men syntes oskadad. Inget folk fanns på däcket, och ingen svarade på fiskarnas anrop. Christian Simonsen förstod genast att de funnit vad som på sjömansspråk kallas ett ”dött skepp”, tillåtet att bärga för den som så kan.-> More