In 1982, Carl Ivan Danielsson, formerly Swedish Minister in Budapest during World War II , was named as one of the Righteous by Yad Vashem. Recognition of his work in assisting the Jews of Hungary came two years after that of his junior colleague Per Anger and considerably after that of Raoul Wallenberg (1963) and of Valdemar and Nina Langlet (1965). Although the decision process of the Yad Vashem committee remains secret, it is perhaps not too hard to discern a reason for these dates. Wallenberg and the Langlets had after all been much more actively involved in the rescue attempts and there were many Jews still alive due to their exertions who could testify to their work at “the sharp end”. By contrast, Danielsson had remained very much Head of Mission. Nonetheless Danielsson loyally supported the activities of his juniors Anger and Wallenberg and was noteworthy in personally signing many of the protective documents issued. Nor would it be true to say that his contribution lay simply in his signature. Danielsson was personally involved for example in the case of the Eismann sisters. Finally, instead of moving from Budapest at the suggestion of the Hungarian authorities, Danielsson chose to stay in the capital bis zum bittern Ende thus providing important moral support for Wallenberg and his activities.
Despite these merits, there are still some puzzling features about the curious silence which surrounds Danielsson. As Göran Rydeberg has pointed out, the apparent lack of interest taken in Danielsson by UD contrasts with that shown in some of his junior colleagues. Whereas Lars Berg and Anger would give their accounts of what had happened in Budapest, there is a striking lacuna regarding the retrospective view of the Minister himself. 
At one level, the treatment of Danielsson might, at a pinch, be seen as an expression of human sympathy for the state he was in when he returned from Budapest. The minister was not a young man and the strain of the last period in Budapest had broken him physically and morally. That is one theory. Then again ,Danielsson had his critics, none more so than Valdemar Langlet who drew the attention of his friend Östen Undén, the Swedish postwar Minister for Foreign Affairs, to the numerous blunders which caused “the legation to be shown up in a bad light in the eyes of the prospective and later actual victor”. About all these blunders, Langlet had been silent in his memoir Verk och Dagar I Budapest. “A whole book” Langlet confided in Undén, “could in actual fact have been written about this”.
The fact that he had Undén’s ear may have meant that a highly negative picture of Danielsson was etched in Undén’s mind, thus ensuring perhaps that a blind eye was turned to the former Minister in Budapest for fear of dredging up other unpalatable facts, best forgotten. But the plain fact was that Danielsson had caused UD some embarrassment and discomfort, before his stint in Budapest.Read More »What happened in Cairo?