Book prompts questions in Wallenberg case

Aug. 2, 2011 at 2:58 PM
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STOCK, Sweden, Aug. 2 (UPI) -- Researchers say Russia intentionally withheld information about a Swedish diplomat credited with saving the lives of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust.

The assertion is based on a new book, "Secrets of the Third Reich Diplomacy," which includes transcripts of interrogations of German diplomats imprisoned after World War II by the Soviet Union, including the cellmate of the Swedish diplomat, Raoul Wallenberg, The Local in Sweden reports.

"This ranks as one of the most significant findings in the Raoul Wallenberg case in the last 50 years," historian Susanne Berger told The Local.

From 1945 to 1947, Willy Rodel was the cellmate of Wallenberg, who saved tens of thousands of Jews from being sent to Nazi death camps while working as a Swedish diplomat in Budapest during the Soviet occupation of the Hungarian capital.

Historian Vadim Birstein, a Russian-born researcher who now lives in the United States, said Russia's Federal Security Service, the KGB's successor, had long told him and Berger a file on Rodel's investigation did not exist. The FSS published the book.

The statements by Rodel are from before the period he shared a cell with Wallenberg but came in the same 549-page file including other information about Rodel. The researchers had been told those pages were 543 to 549, which would make Rodel's the last case in the file.

The newly surfaced statements are on pages 477 to 484, which has led Berger and Birstein to conclude there may be 57 additional pages Russians had claimed didn't exist that have yet to be released.

"If the early statements made by Willy Rodel in Soviet imprisonment survived even though Russian officials have told us adamantly for two decades that they did not, we cannot help but wonder if Rodel's interrogations dating from the time he was held together with Raoul Wallenberg also continue to exist," Berger and Birstein said in a statement.

Soviet and Russian officials have said Wallenberg died in Soviet custody in 1947 but family members and experts doubt that, The Local said.

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