Plea for truth at last from family of Swedish Holocaust hero who 'vanished'
Raoul Wallenberg issued Jews with Swedish passports to prevent them being sent to Auschwitz
The family of the Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg has issued a new appeal to the Russian authorities to reveal the truth about the fate of the Swedish diplomat, who disappeared after being taken prisoner by Soviet forces in January 1945.
Wallenberg, often referred to as Sweden's Oskar Schindler, helped tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews escape the Nazi death camps by issuing them with Swedish "protective passports" while serving 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 rehoused them in buildings flying the Swedish flag. As Red Army forces advanced on the city in January 1945, 32-year-old Wallenberg drove out to meet them. He was arrested and subsequently disappeared. His plight remains one of Sweden's biggest unexplained wartime mysteries.
Numerous inquiries have been made to try to find out what happened to him. None has provided a conclusive explanation of his fate. In a new appeal, timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of his birth this Saturday, Wallenberg's relatives have issued a fresh plea to the Russian authorities finally to reveal the truth. Sweden, Hungary and Israel are holding events to mark the anniversary.
"The Russians must know," Cecilia Ahlberg, the diplomat's great-niece said 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."
At the time of Wallenberg's arrest, the Soviet Union insisted it had no knowledge of his fate. Then, in 1957, Moscow claimed that Wallenberg had died of a heart attack while incarcerated in the Lubyanka, the KGB's notorious headquarters in Moscow. But in the 1970s and 1980s, witnesses came forward claiming that they had met the diplomat in a Soviet gulag.
Mrs Ahlberg said the uncertainty was traumatic. "It was like a veil, it was constantly present – the sadness and the hope when a new witness came up. Then the despair when the witness proved unreliable. I've been living with this all my life," she told the BBC. In 2000, Russian investigators announced that the Wallenberg had been executed by the KGB. However, a joint Swedish and Russian report concluded in 2001 that the file could not be closed. In 2009, researchers suggested that there was archival evidence of the existence of a mysterious "Prisoner Number 7" who was interrogated in the Lubyanka six days after the diplomat's supposed death.
Researchers have repeatedly accused Russia of fobbing them off with photocopied material, and of failing to give them proper access to KGB archives. The Wallenberg family has now written to the Russian authorities insisting that they open up the files. "A long time has passed and it's time to get the truth and for the family to finally get peace," Mrs Ahlberg said.
- 1 East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
- 2 Is this bridge haunted by the ghost of nu rave?
- 3 Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
- 4 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
Is this bridge haunted by the ghost of nu rave?
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...