August 28, 2009

Guy von Dardel, who campaigned for his half-brother Raoul Wallenberg, dies in Geneva, age 90


GENEVA (AP) — Guy von Dardel, a particle physicist who sought for years to find his half-brother Raoul Wallenberg in Soviet imprisonment, died Friday at his home in Geneva. He was 90.

Von Dardel never accepted Soviet authorities’ claims that Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who is credited with saving tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazis during World War II, died in a Soviet prison in 1947, two years after the Soviets arrested him in Budapest on spying charges.

Von Dardel’s wife, Mathilda, said von Dardel, who had worked at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, died after an illness.

Von Dardel, who compiled a massive archive on his half-brother and visited the Soviet Union in his search for him, maintained there was evidence that the Soviets wanted to exchange Wallenberg for defectors and other Russians in Sweden, but the offers were rejected by Swedish authorities.

”Mistakes were made in the very first years that influenced very much the fate of my brother,” von Dardel said in 2001.

Wallenberg — a member of one of Sweden’s wealthiest and most prominent families — distributed Swedish passports to Jews in deportation trains and on death marches in Hungary.

He won diplomatic protection for whole neighborhoods in Budapest and organized food and medical supplies. His efforts are credited with saving at least 20,000 lives.

He was arrested on espionage charges in Budapest soon after the Soviet army entered in January 1945, and he vanished at the age of 32. A 1957 Soviet memo said Wallenberg died of a heart attack in Soviet custody in 1947.

Details on von Dardel’s survivors were not immediately available. Funeral arrangements were incomplete.