The JEWISH POST remembers...
Raoul Wallenberg: A hero without a grave...
THE ARREST AND DISAPPEARANCE OF RAOUL WALLENBERG
On January 13, 1945 Wallenberg first contacted the Russians, then on the outskirts of Budapest, in an effort to secure food and supplies for the Jews under his protection. On January 17 Wallenberg and his driver, Vilmos Langfelder, left Budapest for a meeting with the Russian commander, Marshal Malinovsky, in the city of Debrecen, about 120 miles east of Budapest. On the way to the meeting with the Soviet commander Wallenberg and his driver were taken into "protective custody" by the Soviet NKVD, the secret police later known as the KGB. The Soviet deputy foreign minister, Vladimir Dekanosov, notified the Swedish Ambassador in Moscow that Wallenberg was in Russian hands: "The Russian military authorities have taken measures to protect Raoul Wallenberg and his belongings," said the note. When he was last seen on January 17 by members of his staff, Wallenberg was already being "protected" by a Russian officer and two soldiers on motorcycles. He was carrying his knapsack, a briefcase containing his own post-war plan, and a large sum of money.
It was the last time anyone ever saw Raoul Wallenberg as a free man. In the first week of February 1945, after a trip by train to Moscow, Wallenberg and his driver were placed in separate cells in Lubianka Prison, the principal interrogation center of the Soviet Secret Police. That month Wallenberg's mother, Maj von Dardel, was informed by the Russian ambassador to Sweden, that her son was safe in Russia and would be back soon. The family was asked not to make a major issue of Raoul's absence. His safe return was assured.
On January 21, 1945, Wallenberg was placed in cell 123 of Moscow's Lubianka Prison, where he joined Gustav Richter, formerly a police attache at the German embassy in Ruania. Richter testified in Sweden in 1955 that Wallenberg was interrogated only once for about an hour and one half, in the beginning of February 1945. He was accused of spying, perhaps for the United States, since the War Refugee Board was an American based and funded operation. On March l, 1945, Gustav Richter was moved and his knowledge of Wallenberg ended. On March 8, 1945, the Soviet-controlled radio in Hungary falsely reported that Wallenberg had been murdered in route to Debrecen, probably by Hungarian Arrow-Cross or still at large agents of the Gestapo.
In April 1945 Averell Harriman, then U.S. ambassador to Moscow, was instructed to contact the Swedish ambassador and offer any assistance necessary to help determine Wallenberg's fate. Swedish Ambassador Staffan Soderblom declined U.S. help or involvement - potentially a major mistake. A second tactical error was committed during a meeting between Stalin and Soderblom on June 15, 1945. The ambassador told the Soviet chief of state that he personally felt Wallenberg was dead, killed by the Arrow-Cross, but would still appreciate the Soviets' looking into the matter, as his government in Stockholm had requested this inquiry. Stalin promised to investigate personally and wrote Wallenberg's name on a pad. On August 8, 1947, the second important Soviet communique about Wallenberg was sent to Sweden. Written by Foreign Minister Andrei Vishinsky in reply to Swedish government inquiries, the message stated that "a search of prisoner-of-war camps and other establishments had turned up no trace of Wallenberg. In short, 'Wallenberg is not in the Soviet Union and is unknown to us'. The note concluded with the 'assumption' that Wallenberg had either been killed in the battle for Budapest or kidnapped and murdered by Nazis or Hungarian Fascists" For another ten years, the Vishinsky note was the only official Russian word on Wallenberg's fate. When a group of Swedish citizens nominated Wallenberg for the 1948 Nobel Prize for Peace, it elicited the only public statement ever made by the Soviet Union concerning Sweden and the Wallenberg affair: A Soviet journal again accused the Nazis or the Arrow-Cross of murdering Raoul Wallenberg. For years thereafter, there was only official Soviet silence. Then as a number of European prisoners were released in 1955, word of Wallenberg's imprisonment began to filter
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