Russia urged to end mystery of Holocaust hero


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The Independent Online

The family of Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg has issued a fresh appeal to the Russian authorities demanding they finally reveal the truth about the fate of the legendary Swedish diplomat who disappeared without trace after being taken prisoner by Soviet forces in January 1945.

Wallenberg, who has been dubbed Sweden's Oskar Schindler, helped tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews escape the Nazi death camps by issuing them with Swedish "protective passports" when he served as a diplomat in Budapest at the end of the Second World War.

To prevent his protected charges from being deported to Auschwitz, he moved Jews from the Budapest ghetto and re-housed them in buildings flying the Swedish flag which he rented out on their behalf.

As Red Army forces advanced on the city in January 1945, Wallenberg drove out to meet them. However the 32-year-old diplomat was promptly arrested and subsequently disappeared. His plight has remained one of Sweden's biggest wartime mysteries.

Numerous inquiries have been launched to determine what happened to him. The latest was opened by Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt in January this year. Yet none have so far provided a conclusive explanation about his fate.

In a new appeal coinciding with the 100th anniversary of his birth this Saturday, Wallenberg's relatives have issued a fresh plea to the Russian authorities to finally reveal the truth about his plight. Sweden, Hungary and Israel are holding events to mark the anniversary.

"The Russians must know," Cecilia Ahlberg, the diplomat's great-niece, declared in an interview earlier this week. "There is no question of them not knowing what happened and we have not had a truthful answer. We want all the facts, what happened and when it happened," she insisted.

In 2000, Russian investigators announced that Wallenberg had been executed by the KGB. But a joint Swedish and Russian report concluded that many questions remained unanswered.