At long last it appears that the mystery surrounding the fate of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved many thousands of Hungarian Jews from death at the hands of the Nazis, has been solved.
On the 104th anniversary of his birth (Aug. 4, 1912), reports circulated this week that the recently discovered diary of Ivan Serov, the first head of the KGB, states: “I have no doubts that Wallenberg was liquidated in 1947.”
Until now, what has been known is that between July and December 1944, young Wallenberg risked his life by issuing passports and housing Jews in secure buildings in Budapest at the height of the Nazi effort to decimate Hungarian Jewry. He is credited with saving the lives of tens of thousands of Jews, and his courageous efforts have been heralded throughout the free world, including being named an honorary citizen of the U.S.
On January 17, 1945, Wallenberg disappeared after being imprisoned by Soviet agents on the suspicion of espionage. Despite numerous and extended attempts to learn what happened to him, including petitions to Russian leaders over the subsequent decades, Wallenberg’s destiny remained a mystery. Moscow long maintained that he died of a heart attack in prison in July 1947, when he was 34. At various times, former prisoners from the Gulag spoke of having met Wallenberg in prison long after 1947. But the Serov diary’s report that Wallenberg was executed appears accurate because it also has references to specific documents on the diplomat.
In closing a heroic and tragic chapter of the Holocaust, it is important to recall the cruelty of the Soviets in capturing a Western diplomat and refusing to acknowledge their responsibility for his death. And we honor the memory of Raoul Wallenberg, recognizing what a single individual can accomplish in the name of human decency.
May he rest in peace.