February 15, 2008

Sweden’s records on Raoul Wallenberg disappearance posted online


STOCKHOLM, Sweden: The Swedish government has launched an online database with more than 1,000 documents on the disappearance of Raoul Wallenberg, a diplomat who saved thousands of Jews from Nazi death camps.

The searchable database collects previously published material in one place to make it easier for both government and private researchers to explore Wallenberg’s case, said Harald Hamrin, a retired Swedish diplomat who led the initiative.

Wallenberg, who worked as a diplomat in Budapest, is credited for having saved at least 20,000 lives during World War II. He was arrested by Soviet troops in 1945 and is believed to have died in captivity, although the time and circumstances of his death remain unclear.

The Swedish Foreign Ministry’s Wallenberg dossier contains more than 10,000 pages of documents, including testimony by Swedish diplomats and police. It also has Soviet documents released after the collapse of the Iron Curtain, including a disputed report saying Wallenberg died of a heart attack in a Soviet prison in July 1947.

Hamrin said he hoped posting the documents online would help maintain interest in Wallenberg’s case and even spur private researchers to make new discoveries.

”Who knows what they could find in there that we haven’t thought about,” he said.

The database is only available in Swedish, but Hamrin did not think that would be a problem, saying most experts on Wallenberg have at least a rudimentary knowledge of the language.

Missing from the database are Wallenberg records from KGB archives that the Kremlin still refuses to release, he said.

”During (former President Boris) Yeltsin’s time in the early 1990s, a couple of archives were opened and we got some interesting documents. After that it’s become gradually tighter,” Hamrin said.

”Under Putin it’s been practically impossible to get anything new from Moscow.”

On the Net:

Wallenberg database: http://raoul.dev.bazment.se/default_eng.html