Descendants in push for Raoul Wallenberg details
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Descendants in push for Raoul Wallenberg details

Relatives of businessman who saved Jews from the Nazis call for information relating to the 32-year-old’s ultimate fate to be revealed

Raoul Wallenberg
Raoul Wallenberg

Descendants of a Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust have called on the country to ask Russia for answers as to his fate.

Raoul Wallenberg, a businessman who became a diplomat to save up to 30,000 Hungarian Jews by placing them in safe houses and giving them diplomatic status, disappeared towards the end of the war, as the Soviets entered Budapest.

His descendants have pushed for information relating to the 32-year-old’s ultimate fate, and now want Sweden to help ask the Kremlin to reveal what they know.

Wallenberg disappeared into the Soviet prison system in January 1945, after he was summoned to Soviet headquarters in Budapest to answer charges of espionage. He was never seen again.

“I want specific answers to specific questions,” Wallenberg’s niece, Marie von Dardel-Dupuy, told The Guardian last month, ahead of a visit to the Swedish capital.

Von Dardel-Dupuy, together with Wallenberg’s daughters Marie and Louise, and his niece Marie Dupuy, have tried various methods to understand what happened to their relative, including suing the Russian security services in 2017, an effort that was quickly rebuffed by the Russian courts.

Wallenberg, in Hungary as his country’s special envoy, issued more than 9,000 protective passports and sheltered up to 10,000 Jews in 32 buildings he rented and designated as Swedish territory, recruiting almost 350 people to help him.

In 1957, Soviet authorities said he had been jailed in the notorious Lubyanka prison, beside the KGB head office, and that he died of heart failure on 17 July 1947.

In 2000, a Russian investigative commission said Wallenberg had been shot and killed by KGB officers for political reasons in 1947, but gave no further details.

He was officially declared dead in October last year.

In June 2016, the diaries of the first KGB chief Ivan Serov were released. In them he said the order to kill Wallenberg came from the top – from Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov.

“He was a great man who wasn’t afraid to do the impossible. He deserves for us to know what happened to him,” von Dardel-Dupuy said. “His story is unfinished – the mystery must be resolved. There are still so many closed doors, and we must have help in opening them.”

Historian Susanne Berger said: “We know for sure that the Russian side has important information it hasn’t released, but Sweden does not push hard enough to obtain that material.”

Israel’s national Holocaust memorial and museum designated the man dubbed ‘Sweden’s Schindler’ as ‘Righteous Among the Nations’, the highest honour awarded to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

If Sweden is unable to persuade Russia to release the information, the family will need to wait until 2022, when the 1947 documents may be made available under the country’s 75-year declassification rule.

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