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Raoul Wallenberg is dead – RIP

Sweden’s Tax Agency has formally declared Raoul Wallenberg to be dead.

This is long after his disappearance at the hands of the Soviets in ‘liberated’ Budapest, where Wallenberg and others had striven to defy the Nazis and the Hungarian Arrow Cross. Of course, a diplomatic passport was no defence against the NKVD, and whatever happened to Wallenberg, he will long be remembered for his heroism, as should many others be so remembered. I recall reading a book by his colleague Per Anger, who described how a Swiss diplomat, facing an Arrow Cross death squad said something like “So go ahead, kill me, but your man in Berne will hang tomorrow morning.” and they left him alone.

How very modern-Swedish for the tax authorities to be the ones who decide if you are dead or not.

Funny how this story wasn’t made into a big Hollywood movie, just a TV movie, but then again it doesn’t portray a certain cause in a shining light.

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15 comments to Raoul Wallenberg is dead – RIP

  • One of several reasons I hold the Swedish government in low esteem is their consistent 20th-century history of cringing to foreign governments that threaten them while disdaining those who treat them decently. Their allowing in Jews from Denmark is a pleasant exception to their letting nazi troops cross their territory in the conquest of Norway, their selling ore and ball-bearings to the nazis as long as they could, even cheating on late-war promises to stop, etc. On many occasions they had leverage with the soviets, e.g. the soviet sub that grounded in their territory, and they always cringed, as if to say “Please Mr communist excuse our coastal rocks from being so inconsiderately in your way”, etc., etc. This is not a forum where praise for governments is much met with, but the sustained lack of courage or dignity shown by Sweden’s helps me like my own a bit better.

    Wallenberg shows that Swedes can be better than their government. If I were a Swede, I’d be glad of the example. But, as the OP remarks, the PC have never managed to feel really keen about him.

    BTW, I deduce from OP that the collapse of the soviet union did not bring light on Wallenberg’s end. I can well believe his file was much more sensitive than that of some denounced peasant or low-level functionary – or that some file did indeed state “he died in 1956”, as the soviets claimed, but was (understandably) suspected of being a standard Ministry-of-Truth fake-up. I suspect he died at the hands of the soviet secret police well before 1956, but we may never know.

  • Alisa

    How very modern-Swedish for the tax authorities to be the ones who decide if you are dead or not.

    That was the first thing that jumped at me – WTF…

  • Mr Ed

    I’m sorry to say that I would have feared that had Wallenberg been a US (dual) citizen, the IRS would have heaped fines and penalties on him for not having filed a tax return from the GULAG since 1945.

  • Alisa

    Truly, only two things are certain in life…

  • Paul Marks

    May he rest in peace.

    And may his murderers burn in Hell for all eternity.

  • JohnK

    Interesting, is it not, that Raoul Wallenberg’s diplomatic status was respected by the Gestapo, but did not protect him from the NKVD. Clearly, the Gestapo were mere bourgeois amateurs when it came to real psychopathic terror.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    Let’s not be too harsh on the Swedes. They saw how the Nazies treated Norway, so had every incentive to play nice. And Norway vs USSR wasn’t so clear-cut, either- we found out later that the Norwegian Government cleared their most truculent Anti-Commie speeches with Moscow first! (Well, their Prime Minister did.)
    And weren’t the Swiss, in WW2, also trading with the fascists, who surrounded them on all sides? Sometimes small countries have to go with the flow, to survive.

  • bobby b

    How very modern-Swedish for the tax authorities to be the ones who decide if you are dead or not.

    I think the U.S. Internal Revenue Service currently holds “death of the taxpayor” to be an attempt to evade U.S. taxes, and so they bill estimated taxes to the dead person until the foreign tax authority rules them tax-dead.

    ( 😀 )

  • Mr Ed (October 31, 2016 at 7:59 pm), Wallenberg was a dual US citizen. Reagan gave him dual citizenship in the ’80s (when the soviets claim he was long dead, and I suspect he was even longer dead) with a view to acquiring some diplomatic ability to ask questions about him. If I recall correctly (I may not),the Swedish government had recently given yet another of many proofs that they planned to cringe forever.

  • JohnK (October 31, 2016 at 10:31 pm), “Interesting, is it not, that Raoul Wallenberg’s diplomatic status was respected by the Gestapo, but did not protect him from the NKVD.”

    In 1944, Germany depended more than ever on Swedish high-grade ore and ball-bearings – and were well aware that Swedish factories were not bombed (the Swedes eventually started insisting the Germans provide the ships that plied the Baltic transporting the goods, since the ships were targeted). They also knew the allies were pressuring the Swedes to stop trading, even join in WWII. The Swedes knew the allies would not invade them so were first insolently and then cheatingly resistant on the trade issue, and never joined the war, but the Nazis could not be sure of this, or that the Swedish government was as indifferent to Wallenberg as was in fact the case. Therefore, although Eichmann told Wallenberg that a swerving truck might chance to collide with him, the Nazis always worried there might be consequences. They knew they were already in a diplomatic battle with the allies for Sweden’s cooperation.

    The communists had no such concerns in 1945, and it’s clear that Stalin was already flirting with the anti-Semitism that became a feature of his final years. Wallenberg looked potentially troublesome and his fate sent a useful message.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray, November 1, 2016 at 12:14 am: “Let’s not be too harsh on the Swedes.”

    Let us indeed not be too harsh on the Swedish government. Let us merely be no more harsh than their behaviour fully deserves. And, remembering Wallenberg, let us not be harsh on all Swedes, just on their government.

    In 1944, Sweden well knew the Nazis could not attack them. In April 1940, before the attack on France, Sweden well knew that helping Norway defend itself might well decide the outcome. The German surface fleet was fully committed to the Norwegian campaign, in which it took heavy losses after which, fortunately for us, its ability to sustain any overseas invasion was compromised for the rest of the year. Sweden was far more vulnerable to Germany after the Norwegian campaign ended than if it had helped make it fail.

    By contrast, Switzerland was fully exposed overland to the might of the German army and, unlike Sweden, had no one particular moment at which it was obviously both their duty and their own wisest act to join the war. Germany planned to invade Switzerland (“Operation Christmas Tree” IIRC) in late-40/early-41 but it was postponed till after the fall of Russia – luckily for Switzerland and for those who escaped to it.

    The Swiss were not saints. I recall a notice near the Swiss-Italian border. The bi-lingual (German and Italian) notice claimed that Polish soldiers interned after the fall of France had “willingly” built the road. Postwar Poles (I believe) had vigorously defaced part of the German notice – I suspect the Swedish authorities did not ask them whether they were ‘willing’ to do essentially slave labour work that was doubtless greatly preferable to what the Nazis would have done with them.

    I have wondered whether Sweden’s wartime behaviour has something to do with the disdain Norway shows for union with them in the EU. I’m aware that older unions of Scandinavia have tended to be failures, and I’ve spoken with Danish anti-EU campaigners who use this history in argument. But whereas Sweden in WWII could never have done much to save Denmark – and did allow Danish jews to flee there – the case of Norway differs. (Do any Norwegian contributors feel able to comment?)

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    I was reading about WW2 recently, and we should take something else into account- the rest of his family. Many of them were nazi-philes, so an initial suspicion of Wallenburg is understandable. The Soviets should have let him go when they uncovered nothing. I can understand why they felt they had to look.

  • Mr Ed

    There is a sail ship, once Dutch, once Danish, moored in the harbour of Wells-next-the-sea, Norfolk, the Albatros, that reportedly was used to ferry Jews and dissidents out of Denmark to Sweden and take arms the other way in WW2, it is now a floating pub.

    Neither the Nazis nor the Kaiser’s fleet caught it, but it did fall into the hands of Greenpeace for a while.

  • Rich Rostrom

    There was no reason for the Soviets to arrest or execute Wallenberg. Whatever happened was almost certainly a blunder that the Soviet government covered up by stonewalling.

    In 1945, the Soviet regime was not particularly anti-semitic; heck, in 1948 the USSR and its satellites voted for the partition of Palestine, which meant the creation of Israel.

    As to Budapest in 1944-1945: I have heard that during the attack on the city, some Soviet scouts found an unguarded path through the sewers which came out in the Jewish ghetto. A whole Soviet rifle regiment moved in. When Eichmann’s death squads came to massacre the last Jews, they got a big surprise.

  • Julie near Chicago

    “May he rest in peace.

    “And may his murderers burn in Hell for all eternity.”

    Yes, Paul.