September 27, 2011

Press Release – Reply to “Wallenberg Possibly Outlived Death Date” AP article

Dr. Vadim Birstein  birstein@pipeline.com
Susanne Berger  sberger@prodigy.net

Re: Associated Press Article, September 26, 2011 “Wallenberg Possibly Outlived Death Date (by Arthur Max and Vladimir Isachenkov)

In the above named article Lt. General Vasily Khristoforov, Chief of the FSB Registration and Archival Collections Directorate, makes several statements we would like to address as follows:

1. It is an undisputed fact that Russian officials have withheld critical information from researchers for decades, including from the Swedish-Russian Working Group that investigated the Raoul Wallenberg case from 1991-2001. Most importantly, this includes information about a “Prisoner Nr. 7″ who was interrogated on July 23, 1947 and whom Mr. Khristoforov now confirms to have been Raoul Wallenberg. Researchers have yet to receive a copy of the full page of the Lubyanka prison interrogation register for that day, in uncensored form, showing the  complete list of interrogated prisoners.

2.Despite repeated requests, neither we or the Working Group was informed that formal interrogation statements from Willy Roedel, Raoul Wallenberg’s long-term cellmate, survived in the Russian archives. We also have not seen any of the documentation for Willy Roedel that was turned over to the Swedish-Russian Working Group in 1993—seven pages with censored page numbers that include his death certificate and autopsy report—in its original form nor in the context of the file PF 9653 entitled “File of Operational Correspondence on Prisoners-of-War” from which the documents apparently originate. In addition, Mr. Khristoforov confirms that fifty-seven pages referring to Roedel’s case have been withheld from researchers.

3. Mr. Khristoforov states that none of the preserved interrogation statements by Willy Roedel refer to Raoul Wallenberg. That may well be true but researchers should be allowed to review the material in full and confirm that this is indeed so. Mr. Khristoforov brought file PF 9653 to his interview with the Associated Press but did not allow the reporters who interviewed him to open the file and review the material. The collection of documents concerning Willy Roedel and other similar cases could provide important clues as to how the Raoul Wallenberg was handled by Soviet authorities. The fact that large parts of Willy Roedel’s file exist raises serious questions if such documentation also continues to exist for Raoul Wallenberg, as well as possibly for Wallenberg’s driver, Vilmos Langfelder.

4. Mr. Khristoforov claims that due to extensive document destruction the full circumstances of Raoul Wallenberg’s fate after July 1947 will never be learned. However, Khristoforov fails to mention the many document collections directly connected with the Raoul Wallenberg case that continue to exist in Russian security services archives but remain completely inaccessible to researchers. This includes key investigative files in the archival collections of the Russian Internal Security Service (FSB) and the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), as well as important correspondence records between the Russian Security Services and the Soviet leadership in the decisive 1945-47 years and beyond. Also, researchers currently have no proper way of assessing whether missing documentation has been indeed destroyed or simply continues to be withheld. Contrary to Mr. Khristoforov’s assertions, it is quite likely that knowledge of Raoul Wallenberg’s fate was preserved and is known today.

5. Russian officials have never revealed the source of a key document in the Wallenberg case, the so called Smoltsov note from 1947, which was presented in an official statement in February 1957 by Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko. This note, supposedly authored by the Lubyanka prison doctor A. L. Smoltsov, claimed that Raoul Wallenberg died suddenly of a heart attack on July 17, 1947.The document carries important notations, including a page number, which should make it possible to identify its original collection.

Why do Russian authorities not allow researchers unhindered access to documentation in a case that is sixty-five years old? Let us conduct an investigation that meets the standards of academic inquiry, with original documents presented in uncensored form, in their original file contexts, with research findings independently approved by a formal peer review. Only then can we begin to conduct a meaningful evaluation and discussion of Raoul Wallenberg’s fate.

September 27, 2011

Susanne Berger
sberger@prodigy.net

Dr. Vadim Birstein
birstein@pipeline.com