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Since 2001, Dr. Vadim Birstein and Susanne Berger have maintained a regular exchange with the archives of the Russian Federal Security Services (FSB) about still pending questions in the case of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who disappeared in the Soviet Union in 1945. For decades Soviet and later Russian authorities have claimed that Wallenberg died in Lubyanka prison in Moscow on July 17, 1947. The most recent discussions focused mainly on documentation that remains heavily censored. Among this material are the interrogation registers for Lubyanka prison for 1947. This past November, FSB archivists stated that they now believe that a Prisoner No. 7 who was interrogated on July 23, 1947, “with great likehood” was Raoul Wallenberg. If true, it would mark the first time Russian officials have publicly admitted that all previous statements about Wallenberg’s fate were incorrect.
The new information provided by the FSB Archives in November 2009 is two things for sure: Utterly surprising and at the same time maddeningly incomplete. People have repeatedly asked us: What difference do six days make? What does it matter that, according to FSB archivists, Raoul Wallenberg may have been alive six days after July 17, 1947, the day that Soviet and Russian authorities for five decades have claimed to be his almost certain death date?
Well, if indeed confirmed, it matters quite a bit. Yes, the revelations may ultimately turn out to postpone Wallenberg’s presumed death only by six days, but they also potentially cast the case in a whole new light.
For one, it opens up the conversation about Wallenberg’s fate that has been essentially dormant since 2001, when the Swedish-Russian Working Group, that had investigated the Wallenberg question from 1991-2001, presented its final report. While the Swedish side stressed that plenty of unresolved questions remained about what exactly happened to Raoul Wallenberg in Soviet captivity, especially when and how he had actually died, the Russian side took a much stronger position: Circumstantial evidence, it declared in its conclusions, left no other possibility than that of Wallenberg’s death on July 17, 1947. The only concession made by Russian officials at the time was that Wallenberg death was in all likelihood not attributable to natural causes, but to secret execution.
The new information provided by FSB now offers important additional avenues of exploration, in part by elucidating older facts in the case. As prisoners under official investigation, Prisoner No. 7 (Wallenberg?) and Vilmos Langfelder, Wallenberg’s driver were subjected to 16 long hours of interrogation on July 23, 1944. Langfelder claimed his personal possessions, including his money, the next day. So far we do not know if Prisoner No. 7 (Wallenberg?) did the same. This would be a most important indication that he too survived.
Under decennier har sovjetiska och därefter ryska myndigheter hävdat att Raoul Wallenberg dog i Lubjankafängelset i Moskva den 17 juli 1947. Men i november 2009 uppgav arkivarier vid den ryska Federala säkerhetstjänstens FSB att de nu tror att en Fånge… Read More »Begär klarläggande
Google translation from russia. Rearranged by Maribeth Barber.
Raoul Wallenberg. Was prisoner number 7?
Radio Liberty published a letter from independent researchers Vadim Birstein and Suzanne Berger, a qualitatively new turn in the case of Raoul Wallenberg. Additional details of the case – in a conversation with one of the authors of the letter Vadim Birstein.
Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg saved the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews in 1944 by issuing protective passports to so-called “Swedish subjects” awaiting repatriation to their homeland. After the capture of Budapest by Soviet troops, he was arrested and taken to Moscow, where he was kept in the MGB inner prison in the Lubyanka. For many years, Stockholm unsuccessfully tried to discover the prisoner’s fate. In February 1957, Moscow officially made it known to the Swedish government that Wallenberg had died of a myocardial infarction on July 17, 1947, in Lubyanka Prison. In support of this version the Soviets presented a document–a report from the chief of the medical unit inside the prison, Smoltsov, addressed to Interior Minister Viktor Abakumov. This version did not satisfy the Wallenberg family, which holds high social status in Sweden.
In 1990, Vadim Birstein and current chairman of the Memorial Society, Arseny Roginsky, gained access to some of the archival collections of the MGB-KGB. In April 1991, I, as editor of the international department of the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta, published an article by Vadim Birstein « The Mystery of the Prisoner number seven« , which presented the preliminary results of the study and questioned the official Soviet account of Wallenberg’s death. Subsequently, Moscow and Stockholm agreed to continue the work of the bilateral commission. However, in 2001, the Commission concluded that the search ended in a stalemate, and ceased to exist.
Dear Mrs. von Dardel, dear Marie and Louise,
We are writing to you to share the information enclosed below. As you know, over the last few years, we have continued an often slow but productive exchange with the archives of the Federal Security Services of the Russian Federation (FSB). The latest round of discussions, in November 2009, have yielded a resounding surprise. In a formal reply to several questions regarding Russian prison interrogation registers from 1947, FSB archivists stated that « with great likelihood » Raoul Wallenberg became « Prisoner No. 7″ in Moscow’s Lubyanka prison some time that year. The archivists added that “Prisoner No. 7” had been interrogated on July 23, 1947 which – if confirmed – would mean that the Soviet era claims of Wallenberg’s death on July 17, 1947 are no longer valid. Never before have Russian officials stated the possibility of Raoul Wallenberg’s survival past this date so explicitly.
The Swedish Ambassador, Tomas Bertelman, and his staff responded quickly to the new information. In a letter addressed to Yuri Trambitsky, head of the FSB’s Central Archive, dated December 9, 2009, Bertelman asked Mr. Trambitsky for clarification, writing that “if this hypothesis is confirmed, it will be . . . almost sensational.”
We have also sent a detailed follow-up request to FSB officials, asking for more precise information about “Prisoner No. 7,” including procedural details pertaining to the assignment of numbers to prisoners under investigation, as well as possible steps to be taken to verify “Prisoner No. 7’s” identity and his fate after July 23, 1947. So far, Russian officials have not presented any additional information for their claim that “Prisoner No. 7” could be identical with Raoul Wallenberg.
We stress that an in-depth verification of the new information has to take place before any final conclusions can be drawn, but if indeed confirmed, the news is the most interesting to come out of Russian archives in over fifty years.Read More »RAOUL WALLENBERG WAS PRISONER NR 7 !!!
Google translation from russia. Rearranged by Maribeth Barber.
Swedish businessman and diplomat Raoul Gustav Wallenberg was born on August 4, 1912 to one of the wealthiest families in Sweden. He studied at the University of Michigan (USA), where he received his diploma in architecture. In 1936 he went to work in Haifa (then part of Palestine).
He returned to Sweden in 1939 and became a partner in Kalman Lauer’s Hungarian export-import firm. In the summer of 1944, as the first secretary of the Swedish Mission, Wallenberg went to Budapest. Hungary, in March 1944, had been invaded by German troops. Taking advantage of his diplomatic immunity, Wallenberg saved, according to various sources, from 20 to 100 thousand Jews by issuing them Swedish passports. He placed them in specially purchased houses that were proclaimed as Swedish property, and thus were protected by international law. He also bribed German and Hungarian officials, promising ample supplies in exchange for Jewish lives.
On January 13, 1945, Wallenberg was arrested by the Soviet patrol in the International Red Cross building in Budapest. (In another version of the story, he came to the location of the 151st Infantry Division and asked for a meeting with the Soviet command. According to a third account, he was arrested at his apartment.) After being questioned, he was sent under guard to Debrecen for a meeting with the commander of the Second Ukrainian Front, Rodion Malinovsky, who wanted to speak with him. On the road he was again detained and arrested by military intelligence (in another account, he was sent to the headquarters of a group of Soviet troops after being arrested in his apartment).