July 27, 2000

Sweden: Wallenberg was executed or died in Soviet gulag


JERUSALEM (July 27) – A joint Swedish-Russian committee investigating the fate of Raoul Wallenberg for the past nine years has concluded that he was either executed by the Soviets, or made to disappear as a prisoner in a Soviet gulag, a Swedish diplomat told The Jerusalem Post yesterday.

Stationed in Budapest as a Swedish diplomat in July 1944, Wallenberg, in the face of great personal risks, single-handedly managed to save about 100,000 Hungarians Jews from the Nazi death camps.

Though he managed to evade the Nazis, moving from house to house, Wallenberg was captured by the Russian Red Army, his fate unknown since he was last seen escorted away in January 1945.

While the committee’s report, which will be published in November, fails to determine conclusively what happened to Wallenberg, it does establish that Wallenberg did not die a natural death, rebuffing claims that the Russian had made for years that Wallenberg died of a heart attack in 1947 while in a Soviet prison.

”Unfortunately, as it seems at this moment, we will be unable to determine the facts one way or the other. Such is the unsatisfactory state of affairs, but that is the reality of the situation,” Ambassador Jan Lundvik, head of the Swedish investigation team, said in a phone interview from Stockholm.

Lundvik is responsible for the Swedish side of the investigation which was set up in conjunction with the Russians in 1991.

”The committee’s report, while revealing ”a great amount of new information,” will not ”solve the mystery” of Wallenberg’s fate, Lundvik said. ”There are a number of indications that he died in 1947, but there are other reports that he lived longer. This poses a difficult problem, and so we will probably report both sets of facts, and conclude that we cannot determine one way or the other,” Lundvik said. The Swedish press has been rife with speculation that Wallenberg was indeed murdered by the Russians.

Last month, the Israeli Foreign Ministry sent a special emissary to Moscow, former ambassador Yohanan Bein, to inquire into the committee’s progress.

Bein, who met with the Russian head of the joint committee investigating Wallenberg’s fate as well as the Russian Deputy Prime Minister, told the Post that he was especially encouraged to see ”a change on the Russian’s policy which especially stood out.” Being said the purpose of his mission was to demonstrate to the Russians and the Swedes that Wallenberg’s fate is not just of interest to them, but that Wallenberg – by his noble and outstanding efforts for the Jewish people – will be indelibly linked to Israel and the Jewish people forever.