Why did the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2011 decide to keep secret new information in the case of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, without informing either Raoul Wallenberg’s family or the public?
The Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ann Linde stated in a formal debate in the Swedish Parliament on February 7 this year that “Over the years, the Swedish government has worked to achieve the greatest possible clarity in the case of Raoul Wallenberg through dialogue with both the Soviet Union and Russia”. She added that “Sweden has consistently requested all available documentation on Raoul Wallenberg”. And just a few days ago, Ms. Linde assured the readers of Svenska Dagbladet, one of Sweden’s largest newspapers, that “the Swedish government is not giving up its efforts to find the truth.” (SvD, 23/2)
However, a review of facts in the case raises doubts about some of Foreign Minister Linde’s claims.
It is obvious that Soviet and later Russian governments deliberately withheld important information about Raoul Wallenberg’s disappearance in the Soviet Union in 1945 and the official version of his death in a Soviet prison. In 1957, the Soviet government announced that on July 17, 1947 Wallenberg had died suddenly in his prison cell, supposedly as a result of a heart attack.
When in 2009 the Central Archive of the Russian State Security Service (FSB) informed Swedish diplomats and researchers that Raoul Wallenberg “is very likely” identical to a Prisoner No. 7 who was interrogated on July 22 and 23, 1947 – six days after Wallenberg’s official death date – it was the most sensational news to emerge in the Wallenberg case in over 60 years. However, the Swedish government barely reacted and did not take any decisive action.
Neither the former Foreign Minister Carl Bildt nor the former Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt raised the issue with the then Russian President Vladimir Medvedev during his visit to Stockholm in 2009. They also failed to raise the issue in 2010, during a meeting with the then Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
The Swedish government knew it had been deceived for decades, even as recently as during the 1990s, when an official joint Swedish-Russian Working Group supposedly left “no stone unturned” in the search for Wallenberg’s fate. Yet, Swedish diplomats did not protest.
When two top-level archivists of the Russian State Security Service (FSB), in 2011 and 2012 respectively, confirmed that Raoul Wallenberg is identical to Prisoner no. 7, Swedish officials stamped the information “secret”, without informing Raoul Wallenberg’s family.
In 2011, the former Deputy Chief of the FSB’s Registration and Archival Collections Directorate, Colonel Vladimir Vinogradov, informed a Swedish diplomat in Moscow that Raoul Wallenberg was definitely interrogated after his official death date of July 17, 1947. Col. Vinogradov did not say “It could be so”, he said “It was so.” His statement is the clearest confirmation yet that the official Soviet version of Raoul Wallenberg’s fate is a lie. But instead of immediately following up Col. Vinogradov’s claims and clarifying the matter, the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs chose to ignore the information and to keep it secret.
When FSB officials refused Raoul Wallenberg’s family members and Swedish diplomats access to key documents about Prisoner no. 7, again no vigorous protests from the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs followed. In addition, the final report of an official review of the Wallenberg case conducted by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in late 2012, stated that since 2009 the FSB had “downplayed” its claims that Raoul Wallenberg and Prisoner no. 7 were identical. Swedish officials failed to mention that behind the scenes, they had received the exact opposite information.
The Swedish government is happy to take every opportunity to pay tribute to Raoul Wallenberg as the Swedish hero and symbol of courage that he certainly was. Still, the honors sound false when it is obvious that the government is not doing “all it can” to clear up the case and give Raoul Wallenberg the justice he is due.
In a parliamentary debate in April 2018, former Foreign Minister Margot Wallström chose to avoid answering questions about Prisoner no.7 on two occasions, despite the fact that she should very well have known that the Swedish Foreign Ministry had received confirmation that Prisoner no. 7 was Raoul Wallenberg.
Nevertheless, the current Foreign Minister Ann Linde dares to say that “Over the years, the Swedish government has worked to achieve the greatest possible clarity in the case of Raoul Wallenberg”.
Against this background, it is encouraging that Foreign Minister Linde, at her meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on February 4, directly addressed Raoul Wallenberg family’s latest request for full disclosure of the information and documentation that clearly exists in Russian archives.
However, there are still several questions that the Swedish government itself must answer.
Why has the Swedish Foreign Ministry itself not insisted that Russia provide all additional information on Prisoner no. 7?
Why were Raoul Wallenberg’s family, researchers and the Swedish public not informed that Russian sources, as early as October 2011, acknowledged that the Swedish diplomat lived after his official date of death? And why has the Foreign Ministry apparently accepted the Russian claim that no further relevant information is available regarding Wallenberg’s disappearance? The Russian authorities may not know every detail about Raoul Wallenberg’s fate, but they clearly know a lot more than they have shared with the public so far.
It is a true scandal. Raoul Wallenberg definitely deserves better than this.
The question of his fate remains of great importance for his family, the Swedish people and the thousands of people whose lives he helped to save. The Swedish government needs to make it very clear that the Wallenberg case will remain an official matter until all questions about Raoul Wallenberg’s disappearance have been fully resolved.
Mikael Oscarsson is Member of the Swedish Parliament (KD, Christian Democrats)
Source: Svenska Dagbladet, March 15, 2020.
Quote: “Raoul Wallenberg deserves better,” by Mikael Oscarsson, Svenska Dagbladet, March 15, 2020, in: Fritz Bauer Blog, March 17, 2020: https://www.fritz-bauer-blog.de/en/home/news/raoul-wallenberg-deserves-better-18-03-2020