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Raoul Wallenberg
An evolving history

Beginning with the formal announcement in 2016 of Raoul Wallenberg’s death, more than 71 years after his disappearance, the chapter presents some of the speculations as to why he was arrested and probably murdered by Soviet security services. There is also a detailed discussion of previous research on Raoul Wallenberg, and on how the story of the missing Swede may be understood from scholarly historical perspectives. That view is held up against a more comprehensive understanding associated with the forming of myths and legends. The chapter also deals with questions arising from the various materials and methods applied in the investigation.

It is unusual for announcements from the Swedish Tax Agency to attract international attention. When officials there announced in October 2016 that Raoul Wallenberg had been declared dead, more than 71 years after his disappearance, the news was widely reported. His relatives emphasized that a key reason for their application was that they wanted to let him rest in peace. The memorial ceremony they had held for him at Kappsta on the island of Lidingö outside Stockholm, where Wallenberg had spent much of his youth, was a way of mourning the fact that he had almost certainly died prematurely and that he, who had saved so many, had not been rescued from his own captivity. For the relatives, finally applying for an official declaration of death was a way of dealing with a grief and trauma they had lived with for decades. This is not to say that the mystery of what had happened to him had been solved. In the relatives’ application to the Swedish tax authorities, they had stressed that questions remain about the Soviet death certificate according to which Wallenberg allegedly died of a heart attack in Moscow on 17 July 1947.1

The difficulties in reaching a conclusion on this matter had once again become obvious some months before his death was declared. At that time, Vera Serova had spoken out in the Swedish press. During renovation work in 2012, she had discovered two suitcases hidden inside a wall. Their concealment was in all likelihood due to the fact that the documents they contained came from her grandfather, Ivan Serov. He had held a high position in the Soviet security service, the NKVD, and had then become the first head of its successor, the KGB, from 1954 to 1958, whereupon he led the military intelligence service, the GRU. Serov, who was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union, repeatedly demonstrated his prowess, which amounted to ruthlessness. He was a driving force during the construction of the White Sea Canal in the early 1930s, during which tens of thousands of Gulag prisoners died. In the 1930s and 1940s he organized liquidations, deportations, and forced relocations of Ukrainians, Poles, Balts, Volga Germans, Chechens, and Crimean Tatars, which also resulted in thousands upon thousands of deaths. After the Second World War, Serov organized the establishment of the East German security service, the Stasi, played a central role in quashing the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, and was a key figure during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, before falling out of favour in the ensuing power struggle. He was forced to resign as head of the GRU in 1963, lost his membership of the Soviet Communist Party two years later, and subsequently played no political role until his death in 1990.

What made the discovery of Serov’s notes interesting in 2016 was that he, who had not been involved in the arrest of Wallenberg, had been commissioned by Joseph Stalin’s successor, Nikita Khrushchev, to investigate the matter. According to Serov’s investigation, the Soviets had been prepared to hand Wallenberg over to Sweden, but reports that he had been a US or German spy had led to his continued Soviet captivity. For Stalin and Minister of Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Molotov, Wallenberg could fulfil a function in the run-up to the Nuremberg Trials. In exchange for eliminating what were, for the Americans, sensitive questions about the financial dealings between the US and Nazi Germany, in which the Wallenberg family was alleged to have been involved, the Americans would be prepared to rule out questions, troublesome to the Soviets, about the secret supplementary protocols that were part of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939. After the Nuremberg Trials Wallenberg had lost his value, with the result that Molotov proposed that he be killed. Serov’s investigation indicated that 17 July 1947 could well have been Wallenberg’s last day of life. The cause of death was not natural; it was the result of a poison injection administered by Grigory Mairanovsky, the head of the security service’s toxicology laboratory and a specialist in lethal injections, who, as a result of his ‘speciality’, was nicknamed ‘Doctor Death’.

Swedish and foreign commentators alike found this information interesting, but almost all of them added that it was impossible to establish the documents’ credibility. A critical assessment of them, and of how they could have been hidden for decades, raised more questions than answers.2 Once again, it was impossible to reach a clear-cut answer about Raoul Wallenberg’s fate.

The mystery surrounding the Swedish diplomat’s disappearance has been a significant feature in both the news coverage about him and the books written about him. Author, translator and Russia expert Bengt Jangfeldt and journalist Ingrid Carlberg were the first to write comprehensive biographies of Raoul Wallenberg, both published in 2012 to mark the centenary of his birth. Looking back, Jangfeldt noted that there was a clear pattern in the way many writers had approached the Swedish diplomat:

A quick review revealed that almost everything written about him focused on his six months in Budapest, his disappearance in the Soviet Union and the Swedish government’s handling of the so-called Wallenberg issue. His 32 years before Budapest were mostly covered by a few obligatory words along the lines of: ‘He came from a very rich and influential family.’3

That many of his biographers have made similar choices may be explained by the fact that while they certainly wanted to supply as comprehensive a description as possible, in the process, some aspects of his life story were toned down while others were enhanced, primarily to contribute psychologically plausible explanations for his actions in Budapest in 1944–1945. Consequently, their main focus was not on his upbringing in the powerful financial family, his training as an architect in the United States in the 1930s, or his activities as a banker and businessman in South Africa, Palestine, and Central Europe in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Instead, it is his efforts to help Jews escape one dictatorship – that of Nazi Germany – and his own downfall in another totalitarian regime – that of the Soviet Union – which have shaped posterity’s image of him, and these aspects have repeatedly been linked. In retrospect, his arrest and imprisonment on unclear grounds became an example of the cruelty and arbitrariness of the Soviet system under Joseph Stalin’s rule. It was particularly bitter that ‘a man, who like the Jews he failed to save disappeared into the “night and fog” of Nazi extermination camps, had himself vanished into the “night and fog” of the Soviet Gulag’.4

Life and legend

The word ‘legend’ stems from the Latin word legendus, in the sense of ‘something which ought to be read’. The meaning of ‘legend’ is similar to that of ‘myth’, but while a myth need not have any historical basis, a legend can be traced back to an actual person and their deeds. In this way, a legend may be said to occupy a position between myth and historical fact. This reasoning may be applied to Raoul Wallenberg, with a particular focus on his efforts during his six months in Budapest. Many Jews in the city perceived him as their foremost benefactor. Looking back, a few decades later, one survivor stated that the Swedish diplomat was ‘the only one real hero, the one who risked his life for us every day’, while another survivor said he was ‘the greatest hero of my life’ and ‘a great leader, friend and brother to all of us who had the privilege to know him and work with him’.5

During the autumn and winter of 1944, Wallenberg’s image spread like a light in the darkness as an almost superhuman, saint-like figure who offered the persecuted and vulnerable the hope of rescue.6 The legend about him began forming even as his endeavours to help were still underway. Not only was a march dedicated to him; at Christmas 1944, the art-loving Wallenberg was honoured by a humorous poem about ‘The Protective Passport in Art History’, supplemented with a kind of history of the protective passport illustrated with watercolours, including a motif of a figure in a Byzantine mosaic floor. In the halo around his head are the words ‘Wallenbergus sanctus’, the holy Wallenberg, ‘who embodied St George for us’, as one of the authors explained afterwards.7 Similar symbolism was applied in Sweden on St George’s Day, 23 April 1945, when he was praised as a modern equivalent of the dragon-slaying saint.8 Some three years later, writer and journalist Mia Leche Löfgren argued that Wallenberg’s actions revealed a man characterized by order, consideration, and the use of constructive and unconventional solutions that made him appear an ‘organizational and somewhat of a diplomatic genius’. Her admiration for him shone clearly as she affirmed the fusion of his life and legend:

It is as if the radiance emanating from this saintly legend without a saint would shine more brightly the longer one looks at it. But because the uninitiated can scarcely comprehend the terrible conditions under which he worked, his labour of love will probably always be surrounded by a shimmer. What a rare instrument of the Powers of Light was this ‘man from the North’, who could guide people’s minds like streams of water and around whose figure the magic words ‘Wallenberg is here!’ resounded like a quiet murmur of hope wherever he appeared in ghettos and prisons.9

It was not only in Budapest in 1944–1945 and in the Swedish press in the years after the end of the war that the legend of Wallenberg took shape. Art scholar Tanja Schult has identified a persistent pattern in biographies of Wallenberg, dating back to the first biographical sketches of him in the second half of the 1940s, in which his heroic actions featured prominently. Motifs familiar from traditional heroic narratives were often applied to him, ranging from his birth with a caul through his love of challenges and his willingness to stand as a solitary warrior against a brutal regime and its henchmen, to the tragic end when he faced death, still young and abandoned by his own people. Like Joseph Campbell in his The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Schult assumes that heroic narratives may display much internal variation, but that this need not entail any unfavourable consequences, concluding that: ‘The classical hero patterns are extended by finding suitable terms that … fit the Wallenberg narrative as well as our contemporary understanding of the hero concept’.10

It is therefore no surprise to find that Wallenberg’s road to Hungary has been described from different points of view. One Wallenberg scholar wonders what factors might account for his transformation from the low-key persona of a quiet businessman ‘into a powerful general’.11 One former acquaintance argued that Wallenberg’s years in the early 1930s, studying architecture at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, contributed to the transformation. After his return from the United States, the ‘new’ Raoul moved like a whirlwind as he tossed around bold ideas and suggestions.12 Looking back, others have chosen to emphasize continuities and have hence sought to find recurring character traits from his early years through adolescence and adulthood until he arrived in Budapest at the age of 31. One Jewish helper portrays a man who was well suited for the job he was sent to do, but who excelled himself once there: young, adventurous, passionate, humanistic and with a great belief in justice, who often appeared troubled.13 His half-sister Nina Lagergren spoke without reservation, explaining that ‘no coincidences steered Raoul towards Hungary and the rescue of the Jews. Raoul had all the qualities needed to succeed in his difficult and dangerous mission’.14

In the early 2010s, Carlberg and Jangfeldt set out to write the first comprehensive biographies. In their books, the early years of Wallenberg’s life were given far more attention than in previous biographies, and their approaches were similar: essentially chronological and detailed accounts from the cradle up to the unclear location of his grave, and the aftermath of his disappearance. The content thereby became largely overlapping – detrimentally so, in the view of some reviewers.15 The considerable attention paid to the early years of Wallenberg’s life was welcomed by all except a few persons. Swedish journalist Nils Schwartz preferred popular historian Alex Kershaw’s book (recently translated into Swedish), called To Save a People: The Epic Story of Raoul Wallenberg and His Mission to Save the Last Jews of Europe (2010), which was reminiscent of earlier biographies of the Swede. Instead of Carlberg and Jangfeldt’s 250-page presentations of Wallenberg’s childhood and youth, Kershaw had summed up the Swede’s life until he arrived in Budapest in 1944 along familiar lines and in a few pages. This focus placed the spotlight on Wallenberg’s heroic deeds, which was to be preferred, as was the fact that Kershaw was British. Without elaborating on how he reached this conclusion, Schwartz argued that this guaranteed that the depiction was objective. The implication was that this ideal was something that Swedish writers were unable to embrace when writing about their world-famous compatriot.16

The response to both the Swedish and the international biographies was generally favourable. The issue of how they dealt with ‘life’ in relation to ‘legend’ was repeatedly discussed, and most commentators expressed relief that the books had found a balance and thereby avoided succumbing to declaring Wallenberg a saint.17 The biographies differed in a few respects, in that Jangfeldt contributed a solid overview written by a good stylist with a great knowledge of Russia and the Soviet Union. Carlberg’s journalistic background was most evident in her preference for interview material, her narrative and engaging prose style, and the fact that she devoted much space to details while also presenting more and larger contexts than Jangfeldt at the expense of writing a concentrated biography. In a review that included both biographies, Budapest-born British journalist Monica Porter devoted far more space to Carlberg’s book, because her ‘approach is altogether more forensic and she has unearthed a staggering amount of details’.18 The scope also impressed British historian Joanna Bourke, who has written several acclaimed works on the histories of war and killing, fear and rape; but she felt that the rich portrait ‘contributes too much to the cult of personality’ while failing to touch the reader deeply, mainly because Carlberg was not able to connect the history of the past with the problems and challenges of the present.19 In other words, the voluminous biography was not an example of a living history.

The historiographical dilemma

In his overview The Holocaust in History, Michael R. Marrus discusses the events in Budapest in the autumn and winter of 1944–1945. He explains that the German efforts to ‘solve the Jewish question’ in Hungary resulted in feverish diplomatic activity. Thanks to the efforts of representatives of Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, and the Vatican, thousands of Jews were saved from the ongoing genocide. Marrus particularly stresses the Swedish efforts, ‘energized by Raoul Wallenberg, a businessman turned diplomat’. The Swede’s ability to use ‘bribery, bluff, and deception’ distinguished him from other rescuers: ‘There is scarcely a better example of how an intrepid, strategically placed individual could capitalize on the standing of a neutral power to effect large-scale rescue.’20

As Marrus points out, Wallenberg’s status as a role model today is based on the extraordinary nature of his deeds in Budapest. This does not exclude the fact that they have been and still are a matter of debate. Soon after the end of the war, information began circulating that some 100,000 Hungarian Jews owed their lives to Raoul Wallenberg. This figure has survived and is still quoted even today in a variety of contexts, from encyclopaedia articles and official websites to books starring him, written for children and young adults, to politicians’ opinion pieces.21 However, this information has repeatedly been challenged. Historians such as William Rubenstein, Andrew Handler, and Paul Levine argue that the number of people rescued is greatly exaggerated. In the gigantic maelstrom of the Holocaust, Wallenberg was ‘a minor diplomat’ who made a contribution in one city for a brief period as the Nazi genocide was coming to a close. Levine argues that the scant empirical evidence has contributed to many misconceptions about Wallenberg, but that more research into what he actually did under difficult circumstances ‘will show that he deserves his place among history’s heroes’.22 By extension, one conclusion of this argument is that Wallenberg’s actual achievements were not commensurate with his heroic reputation.23 It is therefore of the utmost importance to distinguish the actual historical events from later myths and legends.

It should be emphasized that there are good grounds for revising the number of people whom Wallenberg saved. However, difficulties arise if the scholarly aspects of the past, whether related to Raoul Wallenberg or any other individuals, events, or processes, are accorded monopoly status. Nevertheless, the symbolic implications of his story are virtually impossible to avoid, even when the aim is to record ‘hard’ historical facts in order to clarify ‘how things really were’. The challenge of contrasting true historical facts with created legends and false myths can be illustrated by three books about Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest, written by historians who have been or are working in Sweden. In their studies, the three authors, Attila Lajos, Paul Levine, and Klas Åmark, of whom the first two have passed away, present new and valuable research findings about the situation in Budapest in 1944–1945. Alongside other historians who have studied the Holocaust in Hungary, they stress that Wallenberg and other diplomats at the Swedish Legation were far from alone in making important efforts to save Jews from the Holocaust. Based on archival material from Hungarian government authorities, Lajos concludes in Hjälten och offren: Raoul Wallenberg och judarna i Budapest [‘The hero and the victims: Raoul Wallenberg and the Jews in Budapest’] that the Hungarian government tried to assist foreign rescue operations up until the autumn of 1944, when Admiral Horthy was forced to resign. Like their Swedish counterparts, Hungarian politicians realized that a German defeat was inevitable. Lajos’s analysis of the Hungarian sources is a welcome and well-documented contribution to Wallenberg scholarship. So is Levine’s Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest. Levine’s aim is to complement a previously one-sided focus on the Swedish diplomat with information about the rescue work done by other people in Budapest. He also seeks to paint a picture which agrees better with that presented in the Swedish press in 1945, namely that Wallenberg was one person in a diplomatic team effort at the Swedish Legation. According to Levine, the Swedish diplomats should be characterized as ‘desk-based rescuers’. Via personal appeals, meetings, letters and so on, they tried to stop the ‘desk-based killers’ in the SS.24

One of the many merits of Åmark’s contribution is his careful and balanced review of the many different rescue efforts that occurred. The result is insightful discussions of individual efforts and how they related to one another. Åmark’s approach has points in common with those of the other two scholars, but it is both broader and deeper. Lajos discusses Wallenberg mainly in relation to the concurrent rescue efforts by Jews, while Levine focuses on Wallenberg in relation to the other Swedish diplomats at the Swedish Legation and the Red Cross operations of Valdemar and Nina Langlet. Åmark also includes the efforts of other individuals and aid organizations and goes into depth with a careful and consistent source-critical approach. Among others, he singles out the papal envoy Angelo Rotta, the Italian Giorgio Perlasca and the Swiss diplomat Carl Lutz for their rescue efforts in Budapest. Lutz in particular has received international attention, but only rarely have his endeavours been compared to the Swedish rescue efforts. Åmark’s study reveals that the collaborations were far from unproblematic and in several cases led to open conflicts and broken-off relations. This becomes especially clear when Raoul Wallenberg’s efforts are treated in the same way as those of other actors. There is no doubt that Wallenberg made significant contributions and worked extremely hard, but Åmark also emphasizes things that did not work, such as the system of transactions that Wallenberg never managed to make operational in a satisfactory manner.

The discussion about Wallenberg’s money transactions and the bookkeeping associated with his rescue efforts is one of many examples of Åmark’s skilful handling of sources. He often discusses this subject in a dialogue with previous research. On a number of occasions, Åmark points out how many of the people who have tackled this topic either failed to pursue their initial arguments when the sources became too few or fell completely silent. In other cases, the favourable preconception about Wallenberg’s achievements led to the inclusion of hard-to-confirm information in the narrative about him without closer critical scrutiny. Åmark notes that in line with this, there is a tendency, especially in the biographical literature, to exaggerate Wallenberg’s administrative skills. Åmark’s close reading of the sources reveals that Wallenberg was far from having the meticulous control over his operations and organization that was often emphasized in earlier works about him.

The Swedish historian Klas-Göran Karlsson has developed a model for uses of history. One important aspect illustrated by this model is that history has been and is being utilized by various groups. Uses of history are based on different needs and interests. The model illustrates that history is used on distinct levels, ranging from its existential use, which is linked to the meaning-making of individuals, to the need of intellectuals and politicians for rehabilitation, rationalization, and legitimization in those cases where history is used morally, ideologically, and politically. These uses of history are often in sharp contrast to the scholarly use of history. The latter’s practitioners, mainly historians and history teachers, work to discover and reconstruct the past in order to interpret the research results and label them true or false. According to proponents of the scholarly use of history, only people who work according to the scholarly system of rules may be said to be seriously engaged with history. In other words, this use is the only reasonable one, while other uses of history are tantamount to misuse. Karlsson notes ‘that history can and is in fact being used in several different ways, of which the scholarly use is only one. It is not superior to the others, but nor is it subordinate’.25

In academic contexts, however, a distinction has often been made between myth and legend. While the former is essentially a symbolic way of expressing events that did not necessarily happen in order to explain difficult-to-understand aspects of existence and to contribute a moral to a story, legends are based on actual people and circumstances. Over time these are romanticized, and the role models who were the subject of the legend become heroic larger-than-life characters. Another feature of traditional historical scholarship is that myth stands in opposition to truth with a capital ‘T’. It is therefore crucial to debunk a myth and replace it with solid knowledge based on a foundation of historical science.

I agree with the conclusion that it is very important to strive to clarify what Raoul Wallenberg actually did during his time in Budapest, whom he met there, and how many Jews he managed to save.26 It is striking that it is also precisely in such classic historical-scholarly contexts, in which historical contextualization and source criticism are at the forefront, that Lajos, Levine, and Åmark come into their own. In line with the above reasoning about uses of history, problems arise when other uses of history than the scholarly kind inevitably become part of the analysis. For example, Lajos challenges a commonly expressed view of Jews as passive victims. He argues that this explanation has taken hold owing to the dominance of the heroic depictions of Wallenberg. While Wallenberg’s active, heroic efforts have been increasingly emphasized, the actions of Jews have been overshadowed.27 A fundamental problem with this conclusion is that Lajos assumes that Wallenberg was trying to help the Jews not only for their sake, but also – and above all – as a means of building up his own heroic status, which he knew would be useful after the end of the war. The result is an unjustified downgrading of Wallenberg’s achievements, as there is nothing to suggest that he had such ulterior motives. The difference here is striking when compared with the case of another Swedish role model, Folke Bernadotte, who actively contributed to the creation of his own heroic image by publishing several books in the wake of the Second World War.28 Bernadotte’s posthumous reputation has alternated from acclaim to questioning, as his own efforts to polish his heroic halo at the expense of other actors have repeatedly been a matter of debate.

Given the opportunity, Wallenberg would emphatically have rejected being called a hero because he was merely doing his duty, argued commentators soon after the end of the war.29 Against this background, it is not reasonable to ‘judge’ Wallenberg on the basis of the heroic status he was given after the Second World War in a process over which he had no influence whatsoever.30 However, it is important to note how the image of a selfless man driven by a humanist conviction easily melds with existing heroic ideals. Another aspect worth pointing out is that unlike many of the great figures of the twentieth century, Wallenberg was not fighting for ‘his own kind’. He did not strive to stop genocidal murderers in the ranks of the Nazis and Arrow Crosses in order to save ‘Swedes in Hungary, or Jews in Sweden, but rather fought for Jews in Hungary’. He is, continues cultural journalist and author Ricki Neuman, ‘thus a genuine international hero, a true citizen of the world. This makes him all the more important as a role model.’31

Lajos argues that Wallenberg did not act heroically enough in Budapest. Eating dinners and bribing Germans and Arrow-Cross members to achieve his goal was not only unorthodox but also contradicts the definition of heroism advocated by the author. According to that definition, Wallenberg should have acted in clearer opposition to the prevailing power structures, of which he instead took advantage.32 One obvious problem is that Lajos judges Wallenberg according to an ideal-typical definition of heroism that the Swedish diplomat had never heard of and therefore had no reason to conform to. Had he done so, his tale would soon have been over. Openly challenging the German and Hungarian rulers was not a realistic option. That conclusion had already been reached at the time. A number of Palestinian Jews made efforts to be allowed to fight on the battlefields of Europe. Hanna Szenes, one of the better-known members of this group, was airdropped by the British into Yugoslavia, her mission being to make her way to Hungary in order to save as many as possible of that country’s Jews. The British had their doubts about the wisdom of such actions. Those doubts were not only, or even primarily, due to British fears that success in these endeavours might strengthen Jewish hopes for an independent state in what was then British-administered Mandatory Palestine. The British commanders most probably believed that Szenes did not have much chance of success. The doubters turned out to be right. She was captured and executed in Budapest in November 1944.33

The distinguished Holocaust scholar Yehuda Bauer has reasoned along similar lines. He has established that while a number of successful rescue operations were indeed carried out in Hungary, including the one led by Wallenberg, the grim truth is that the majority of the country’s Jews perished anyway. That this mass murder was so effective can be explained by the fact that the German and Hungarian authorities were in almost total control, ‘and no American, British, Russian or Jewish rescue team, no bombing of Auschwitz even, could have changed the overall picture’.34

Attila Lajos’s study illustrates the problem of unilaterally starting from an ideal-typical and ahistorical concept of the hero. Paul Levine’s book shows that a stereotypical understanding of myths can lead to an unintended and paradoxical hollowing-out of the historical research findings that the author wishes to liberate from mythmaking. Studies of individuals like Wallenberg, who performed extraordinary feats in extremely difficult situations, must take account of the historical and social circumstances in which these people operated, as well as of the factors and processes underlying the creation of their status as legends. Accordingly, a unilateral challenge to the myths about Wallenberg, which first reveals the false premises that led to their creation and then replaces them with historical truths is indeed supported by traditional historical scholarship, but it is insufficient when studying the history of effects. In an assertive argument, which dismisses earlier research as ‘simplistic’ or ‘hagiographic’, Levine contrasts his own research findings with the prevailing mythmaking.35 One problem in this context is that in his eagerness to puncture the heroic legends, he is himself guilty of over-simplification by lumping all myths together. The truth-seeking historian may well argue that Raoul Wallenberg was not the Scarlet Pimpernel in a new guise.36 However, such an assertion leads nowhere, as it does not help to explain why there have been and still are strong associations drawn between the fictional hero the Scarlet Pimpernel and the actual role model Raoul Wallenberg. Like Lajos, Levine seeks to topple Wallenberg from his pedestal through ‘revelations’ of less appealing characteristics, such as his lack of a disavowal of Nazi racial policies prior to his appointment in 1944 and his ongoing business activities in Budapest concurrent with his rescue operations there. Several reviewers have pointed out that many of these conclusions are far-fetched because they are based on a one-sided utilization of materials.37

When Klas Åmark’s Förövarna bestämmer villkoren [‘The perpetrators determine the conditions’] was reviewed in the Swedish press, the reactions were generally benevolent, including the hard-to-surpass verdict that it was ‘a brilliant study, a textbook example of serious research efforts’.38 The fact that Åmark was accustomed to ‘treading on morally mined ground’ was also a great advantage, as was his ability to separate fiction from reality.39 This was praise he is probably happy to endorse. In the first chapter of the book, he commits himself to writing a historical account that focuses mainly on source handling and ‘a more active critique of sources than modern historians normally tend to apply’.40 His discussion ends in the conclusion that the historian’s main task should be to find and interpret sources that are as close as possible to the historical event.

However, skilled as Åmark is as a source critic, he is equally unskilled as a myth researcher. Like Lajos and Levine, Åmark argues that myth and history are concepts that are clearly at odds with each other. Because he never makes any attempt to distinguish one myth from another or to investigate the contexts in which they have taken shape, the result is that he consistently dismisses myths as being the opposite of serious (meaning source-critical) research. The problem is not lessened by his treatment of the US television series – which he erroneously refers to as ‘the film’ – Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story (1985) as if it were any other printed source material. However, along with several popular written books about the Swedish diplomat the television series was produced not with the aim of establishing ‘how things really were’, but to link to commonly held beliefs that were sometimes of a mythological and hero-exalting character. In other respects, too, perspectives from the history of effects are conspicuous by their absence. Among other things, this means that limited space is given to the international interest in Wallenberg. During the presidencies of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, the missing Swede became the personification of a tragic hero who fought with considerable success against one dictatorship in order to save the innocent victims of its lethal racial politics, only to fall victim to another brutal dictatorship. In Åmark’s version, the great significance which this US interest in Wallenberg acquired, particularly from the late 1970s onwards, is merely fuel for further myth-making. Such political interests certainly helped to perpetuate exaggerations about Wallenberg’s achievements. However, the meaning-making mythologizing and legend-creation that formed part of the interest in Wallenberg also contributed to a renewal of interest in both him and the Holocaust.

Raoul Wallenberg between the historical and the practical past

The approach of the above-mentioned historians fits well with philosopher Michael Oakeshott’s description of people who are proponents of the historical past. The implication is that past and present are clearly separated. Past events and phenomena can only be accessed through scholarly analyses, developed and applied by professional historians who are also the ones who can – and should – decide what is history.41 Interpreting Oakeshott’s argument, the historian Hayden White underlines that the historical past is ‘a theoretically motivated construction’ that can only be found in books and articles written by professional historians. Proponents of the historical past regard knowledge of the past as an end in itself, since the main tasks are to reconstruct past events and processes and to reinterpret old sources or find new ones that can contribute to a better understanding of established views, or of revisions to them. One premise is that there is a correct set of conclusions that can be reached, because historians view the past ‘from the vantage point of a future state of affairs’, which means that they ‘can claim a knowledge about the past present that no past agent in the present could ever have possessed’.42 Historians may justly claim to be able to provide guidance to the past. However, they rarely contribute analyses conducive to a greater understanding of the present, and of connections between then and now. Nor do they tend to supply arguments by which it is possible to predict the ways in which the actual state of things may affect the future.

The practical past is of a different kind. Oakeshott likens this didactic or ‘living past’ to objects in a warehouse with no supervisor and in a disorderly state. Many of these objects remain forgotten while others have been well known for a long time, remembered in the form of symbolic characters, mythical figures, and living legends. Still others are activated because they are serviceable ‘for their present usefulness’. Thus, the practical past is a recent term for historia magistra vitae. According to Cicero, this type of history should be ‘the teacher of life’ and is existentially significant because it is directly linked to existence in the here and now. It is based on perceptions that most people carry with them in the form of memories, mental constructs, fragments of information, associations with historical persons and events, hearsay, symbols of various kinds, exemplary or detestable objects of contrast, and more or less detailed ideas about the past and present state of affairs. More often than not, dramatic and transformative events are what brings history to life. It is hence not surprising that this book focuses primarily on the shadows of history. The German philosopher of history Jörn Rüsen argues that it is precisely examples of dramatic and turbulent history, termed borderline events, which fundamentally influence the manner in which human beings interpret history, make sense of the present, and predict the future. Consequently, boundary-setting events in the form of crises, wars, disasters, revolutions, genocides, and persecutions certainly contribute to new ways of relating to traditional scholarly approaches to tradition and continuity; but they also raise existential questions about victim and perpetrator positions, responsibility, guilt, and, possibly, reconciliation.43

There have long been discussions about the pros and cons of the ongoing professionalization of historians, which has often led to a widening gap between history as a scholarly pursuit and history as something closely connected to a world of life and experience. In historical research, the concept of text has slowly but surely expanded to include both words and images, although there remains a preference for studying historical museum objects rather than contemporary art, and documentary films rather than feature films.44 Perhaps this is due to an unfamiliarity, or even unwillingness, on the part of many professional historians to recognize that all history-making is documentary in the sense that whether the past is brought to life in scholarly texts or in works of art, no matter how historically accurate and credible or ahistorical and anachronistic they may be, they always bear traces of the time in which they were created. Looking backwards activates and mobilizes both individual and collective knowledge, experiences, and memories. As we shall see later, there are intricate connections between the actual history of Raoul Wallenberg and recent representations of him as a person, his deeds, especially those in Budapest in 1944–1945, and the still-uncertain end of his life in Soviet captivity. When his story is conveyed, it rarely, if ever, only involves the extent to which the representation is historically correct. The ideal of professional historians has long been to free themselves from the values prevailing in their day, but even they are influenced by their times. For the recent musician, visual artist, or film director, the approach is different, as they usually start from the vantage point of ‘the present’. Although many similarities can be identified in the portrayals of Raoul Wallenberg and his deeds, the different choices made and approaches taken reveal how the view of him has changed over time. Similarly, these depictions raise questions about what significance they acquire in cases when their impact is so great that an artistic interpretation or a fictional event complements or out-competes a previous scholarly interpretation of a historical course of events.

Nevertheless, the differences between the accounts of history provided by historians and by the general public are rarely as clear-cut as the division between a historical and a practical past would suggest. The findings of historical research may launch or modify debates in the public sphere, just as past individuals, events, and processes may gain new topicality and lead to scholarly studies in the wake of a novel, a film or television series, a work of art, or a piece of music that arouses strong public reactions. Unsurprisingly, the ways in which history is handled in various contexts has become the subject of study, not least among experts in visual studies. In recent decades, there has been a growing interest among those researchers who construct historical perspectives in how history is manifested in monuments and museums; how past times are conveyed in schools, in film and theatre, and in art, music, and computer games; how the past is utilized and becomes meaning-making; and how we orientate ourselves in time and space. In such contexts, the distance between a historical and a practical past, between history as a science and the world of life and experience, is no longer substantial and perhaps not even relevant.

Historical studies in flux

We both are and create history. We are products of the developments that preceded us, but we also help to influence our situation in the present, and we have expectations for the future. The impact of changing conditions in the present on our views of both the past and the future is evident in various history-cultural contexts. On the one hand, many producers of history consciously look backwards, towards established perceptions of the past, while remaining firmly anchored in the present. On the other hand, a unifying feature on the part of many of those who criticize, and have criticized, the fact that the Holocaust has to some extent become everyone’s property is that they represent a traditional scholarly use of history that stands in sharp contrast to other ways in which history may be utilized and understood. Further, it is now clear that the history that is conveyed via popular culture has a large impact unmatched by any product of historical scholarship. Exploring the broader interest in history therefore requires a different approach from the conventional ones. Historians mostly focus on explaining the causes of a historical course of events and, in historiographical contexts, on how history is produced by historians. History-cultural studies also attach great importance to the effects of the past and to the history of effects, as well as to the fact that social factors of various kinds influence the shaping of historical products, both within and outside the academy. In this way, questions about how history appears as awareness, memory, and myth, as well as in monuments, museums, music, television, and computer games and on film, are central to history-cultural studies. In such contexts, it is important for the history-cultural researcher to recognize that different types of historical narrative are involved. The requirements and starting points are not the same when the narrative is presented in a museum, as a monument, on the film screen, or in a history thesis. Filmmakers who produce moving images in historical settings are aware of the importance of linking to the actual history, but the audience’s sense of recognition is of even greater importance. Recent visual depictions of past times must somehow reflect influential trends and values rather than show ‘how things really were’. In this way, successful films become a litmus test for the contemporary world and its view of historical events. Since history is constantly in flux, the same historical event is bound to be depicted in different ways in films from different eras.45

The dual perspective of both knowing the importance of understanding history on its own terms and realizing the relevance of each era’s posing new questions to the past is essential when studying how producers of history relate to history itself, as well as to the ways in which history is connected to the present. In the present context, however, that dual perspective is more than a tool: it is a fundamental analytical starting point for this book. In traditional historical scholarship, the aim was to find out what was behind a particular historical development, or the emergence of certain scholarly ideals in the discipline. Posterity’s view of history – the effects – was hence undervalued. In historiography – that is, the scholarly analysis of historical research and the communication of history – the research of professional historians has more often than not been the given, and rarely problematized, starting point. In addition, the work of the historian has often been presented as if it were isolated from the surrounding society and its development. Furthermore, the second part of the definition of historiography – the communication of history – has frequently been neglected, which is why there is a dearth of studies of interest in the past within a broad social context, and of conditions affecting this type of history communication. In other words, it is important to study the facts of the past, but it is also necessary to consider the significance of the present for the interpretation of the past. The view that looks backwards from the present is just as important as the view that starts out from a specific point in history. From this reasoning, it follows that later interpretations and additions are indispensable given that all forms of history, whether we confront it in situ or read, see, and hear representations of it from a distance, are devoid of value in and of themselves. Historical representations and places derive their meaning from present-day issues, problems, and perspectives that help us to bring a dead past to life.46 A historical construction cannot be created on its own; it must take established historical facts into account. The research that helps us gain greater clarity about the past is certainly important, but we must also be aware that those who produce history are dependent on economic and political situations, cultural patterns, social institutions, and other structural conditions. As a result, some aspects of history are highlighted while others are gradually forgotten. The writing of history is thus always the result of a process of selective choice: in order to remember something, we must always discard something else.

Communicating history

In most previous studies of Raoul Wallenberg, the given starting point has been texts of various kinds: archival documents, recorded testimonies, newspaper and magazine articles, books and articles about him. Such sources are important in the present study, too, but even greater importance is attached to monuments, films, and television series based on Wallenberg. This book places such expressions of cultural history within a history-cultural context. A history-cultural approach is applied to a study of the contexts within which history is communicated and the different meanings that this communication acquires in various forums. In this sense, ‘history culture’ is a term used to describe the places in society, particularly in the public sphere, where history is communicated, discussed, and used.47 A tripartite division can help to shed light on how we can examine and analyse history cultures. This tripartite approach is based on the need to study history as such, the conditions of history production, and the channels of communication and aspects of conveyance. Such a study involves analysing texts and images on their own terms while simultaneously placing them in social contexts. History culture has been one of the central concepts in an extensive Swedish research project on how and why the Holocaust has been utilized in post-war Europe, Israel, and the United States.48 The treatment of the Holocaust after 1945 is of interest in this book as well, not least because the post-war ebbs and flows of the Holocaust complex are to a large extent correlated with waves of interest (and lack of it) in Wallenberg. More specifically, I focus on the chains of communication through which narratives about Raoul Wallenberg were conveyed and the actors of these communication processes: senders, conveyors, and recipients. It is primarily the first two categories that will be discussed in this book.

History culture can be analysed in terms of both process and structure. The core assumption of the processual perspective is that the conditions under which history is conveyed differ in different times. Both form and content have changed from the time when history was mainly communicated via school education to today’s online learning opportunities. The symbolic meanings and functions that monuments possessed at the turn of the twentieth century are not in evidence today. The great impact of the media is also likely to have influenced people’s perceptions of what distinguishes individuals who are placed in exalted positions. At a fundamental level, there is much to suggest that heroic narratives in predominantly oral cultures are about preservation over time: the role model must remain relevant for future generations. With the introduction of a book-based culture, the hero category expanded to include writers and politicians, whose expertise and strategic skill were as valuable as classical qualities such as strength and courage. And just as a printed story can be read over and over again, it can also easily be rewritten to suit the values and needs of new generations. Media scholars argue that both the oral and the printed hero were real historical figures. Conversely, the role model of our own time is an individual who exists in the present and was created by a kind of media attention that is increasingly rarely accorded to historical models. It is becoming more and more difficult to draw a clear line between legendary status and celebrity adulation, but such a distinction does still exist. For while those people who find themselves in today’s spotlight are exposed on an unprecedented scale, their celebrity is rarely based on heroic deeds.49

The attention still being paid to Raoul Wallenberg and others proves that legendary figures can still fulfil a function. As discussed later, even his elevated position has been heavily dependent on media attention, in the form of both traditional press coverage and products of popular culture. In an account of the emulable efforts made by his former counterparts, the diplomat Richard Holbrooke argues that there is a wide gap between fact and fiction. In an example of the latter, the character Rick (Humphrey Bogart) in the classic film Casablanca (1942) hands over his visa to a persecuted freedom fighter, in consequence of which action he himself faces an uncertain future. Such conduct, writes Holbrooke, is rare in real life.50 Nonetheless, the ideal actions of fictional role models are of great importance to our perception of what it means to be heroic. Not least in modern media, it is very important for the hero to be ‘marketable’. In the British-American film Hero, also called Accidental Hero (1992), the plot revolves around the idea that a grand and selfless act is no guarantee of being elevated to the status of a role model in today’s society. The role model must also meet a number of other criteria in order to be presented as worthy of emulation to the general public. Failure to do so may produce the outcome experienced by the amoral petty thief Bernard ‘Bernie’ Laplante (Dustin Hoffman). In the wake of a plane crash, he sees a new opportunity to steal, but he also performs a selfless act in rescuing passengers from the wreckage. The latter action guarantees him the status of a hero, but that role is better fulfilled by the handsome and media-savvy John Bubber (Andy Garcia).

The fact that history is communicated in different ways in different countries forms the basis of the structural perspective in historical research. The social structures of the countries at the core of this book – Sweden, Hungary, and the United States and, to a more limited extent, the Soviet Union/Russia, Great Britain, and Germany – have been and remain dissimilar. In concrete terms, this means that the view and the use of history differ in each country as a result of the emergence of dissimilar political systems and social structures, but also because concrete historical developments have led to dissimilar history-cultural traditions. That Sweden was not a belligerent during the Second World War and remained outside the Cold War bloc formations has probably resulted in a more distanced attitude to history than in Hungary, the Soviet Union/Russia, Britain, and the United States. In addition, the fact that Hungary was part of the Soviet-dominated Eastern bloc, while the last two belonged to the West, has also influenced the view of the past in each respective country.51

A unilateral focus on national starting points is not sufficient or desirable when, as in this book, the discussion encompasses phenomena and concepts that can occur in national contexts while simultaneously also being transnational. The comparative endeavour which lies at the heart of the Sweden-Hungary-United States analysis is inspired by entangled history and histoire croisée. My approach has been to study similarities and differences with regard to views of the Holocaust and of Raoul Wallenberg in both national and transnational contexts, starting from the premise that ‘historical entities are not naturally given but dynamic phenomena subjected to [a] process of exchange and negotiation’.52

Raoul Wallenberg and Oskar Schindler as role models

The reasoning described above invites the conclusion that history is not merely, or even primarily, a string of individuals, events, and processes that lie along a timeline. When history is communicated, it always happens within a particular context. In a discussion of the communicative characteristics of history culture, Klas-Göran Karlsson explains that the producers of history ‘[choose] the history and interpretations they find worth remembering, preserving, and disseminating on various grounds, whereas consumers choose what they want to hear, see, and learn on various grounds’. This is not to say that all producers and consumers necessarily agree on how the past should be portrayed. In turn, this fuels a struggle over history that has consequences for our perceptions of the present and our expectations, or trepidation, about the future. The respective showcasing and downplaying of historical individuals, events, and processes are thus often the results of conscious choices and expressed needs.53

By extension, we can conclude that it is not necessarily a question of either memory and attention or neglect and obscurity. The highlighting of some aspects and downplaying of others are the result of several factors. It depends partly on what has been preserved for posterity in the form of sources and miscellaneous remnants and partly on the questions asked by the researcher – what he or she finds worth knowing and important. This evaluation may vary over time, as historians find new and previously untested starting points.54 The history-cultural insight is that role models only remain immortal as long as society encompasses interests in keeping them alive.55

In addition, the extent to which a person or an event is remembered or forgotten may vary at the same time and in the same place. For example, in Sweden in the mid-1980s there were two diametrically opposed views about Raoul Wallenberg’s status. In 1985 one commentator asserted, without supplying any evidence, that former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld was a revered Swedish hero, while both Folke Bernadotte and Raoul Wallenberg were fading away.56 In an interview the following year, the influential cultural debater, critic, and publicist Olof Lagercrantz expressed a totally different interpretation. According to him, Wallenberg was the unwilling victim of a cult, an example of moral hypocrisy of monumental dimensions that had a particularly strong hold in Sweden:

Year after year the heroization of this man continues, streets are named after him, statues of him are erected, the keys of cities are presented to his shadow. Is it to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive? Certainly not! The sole purpose of all this is to keep the hatred of Russia alive. History is full of heroes. Was there no one who tried to stop the bombing of Dresden or Hiroshima? Let him or her come forward!57

Besides contributing to the almost continuous, and infected, Swedish debate over East versus West during the Cold War, Lagercrantz’s statement indicates frustration that so much attention was paid to Raoul Wallenberg while others received little or none. Since the late 1970s, the Swedish diplomat has attracted considerable international attention, which, as already indicated, has contributed to the fact that it has been difficult for others who made great efforts to save Jews from the Holocaust to take their place alongside the Swedish role model. For while Wallenberg was just one of many named in Swedish newspaper reports from 1945, he subsequently became a humanitarian fixed star with a luminescence that still has considerable power, not least among politicians and diplomats. In various late twentieth-century and early twenty-first-century contexts, the UK’s former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former Swedish Liberal Party leader Lars Leijonborg, and his fellow countryman, the Swedish diplomat, UN mediator, and former Foreign Minister Jan Eliasson, have thus cited Raoul Wallenberg as their primary role model, a man whose actions in Budapest in 1944–1945 have inspired and guided them.58 Eliasson’s American colleague Richard Holbrooke, whose efforts to negotiate a peace after the civil wars in the former Yugoslavia attracted much attention, has also repeatedly stressed the importance of Raoul Wallenberg and Folke Bernadotte’s efforts to save lives. According to Holbrooke, the two Swedes – into whose lives he gained insight partly because his wife, Kati Marton, wrote biographies of them – were worthy of emulation despite the high price they paid in falling victim to Soviet security men and Israeli terrorists respectively.59

Perhaps the most important indication of Wallenberg’s central position in the post-war era is that he has long been an accepted point of reference. There has been no shortage of people with similar credentials; diplomats are common among those who saved people from the Holocaust, mainly because they were able to achieve more owing to their immunity.60 But none of them has been able to match the Swedish role model. When other rescuers have received media attention, often after being forgotten for decades, their names have not been considered to have sufficient lustre, sometimes not even among the officials from the Swedish Foreign Office (Utrikesdepartementet, UD) tasked with investigating what happened in Budapest in 1944–1945.61 Instead, other diplomats have been described as Denmark’s, Poland’s, Portugal’s, Spain’s, Hungary’s, or China’s Wallenberg.62 Wallenberg’s media dominance has occasionally led to chronological adjustments. As a number of scholars have pointed out, the work of rescuing Jews did not begin with Wallenberg’s arrival in Budapest on 9 July 1944 but was already underway ‘well before that date’.63 The fact that the Swiss had begun handing out protective passports as early as 1942 has accordingly been overshadowed by the concentration on Wallenberg as an individual, a man whose tireless actions in Budapest ‘rubbed off’ on others – both Swedes and people of other nationalities – who were present in Budapest.64 Observers interested both in the work done by Jews assisting their unfortunate brothers and sisters and in the relief efforts of other actors have expressed frustration that such people have been overshadowed by Lutz, Schindler, and Wallenberg. However, they have also voiced their hope that the individuals who at long last do have their portraits drawn alongside these already established great personages will posthumously receive recognition that extends beyond previous sporadic and geographically limited acknowledgements of their contributions.65

Wallenberg may have lost some of his international star power over the past decade or so. When his life was presented in the form of a musical in New York in 2010, one of the organizers argued that an important reason was to rescue him from oblivion in the United States, where he had until only recently been a central figure.66 This may be partly due to a shift in the amount of attention beginning to be paid to Oskar Schindler. For several decades after the end of the Second World War, Schindler received scant attention outside the circle of those he had rescued. It was only with Thomas Keneally’s 1982 fictionalized biography Schindler’s Ark, and even more with Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film Schindler’s List, that his name became world famous.67 As we shall see later, recent fictionalizations of historical figures and events are characterized by a constant negotiation between historical recognition and the values of ‘the present’. In the case of Schindler’s List, argues British historian Tim Cole, the fusion of the protagonist’s historical deeds and cinematic actions has resulted in a Christ-like, humanist icon. In Spielberg’s version, Schindler also possessed qualities that have been highly relevant following the fall of the Berlin Wall. While Wallenberg was linked to both ‘the Cold War and the “Holocaust” [in an American context], Schindler speaks both of capitalism and the “Holocaust”’. Cole’s conclusion before the turn of the millennium was therefore that Oskar Schindler has ‘in some ways … eclipsed Raoul Wallenberg’.68

The popularity of Schindler’s List is not the sole indication of such a shift. Prior to the unveiling of Phillip Jackson’s statue of Wallenberg in London in 1997, The Guardian newspaper ran a major feature on this ‘Schindler of Budapest’.69 When Kjell Grede’s Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg (1990) was distributed on DVD in the US by First Run Features in the early 2000s, it was presumably not only the fact that it was a relatively unknown film in the US that prompted marketers to write on the cover: ‘Schindler Saved Hundreds, Raoul Wallenberg Saved Thousands.’70 Along the same lines, it was claimed from a British perspective some ten years later that most people who had made great efforts to save Jews had ended up in Schindler’s shadow. Wallenberg, who was accordingly called ‘Hungary’s Schindler’, was one of them.71 In the name of history-cultural consistency, some of those who saved fellow human beings from genocide have thus come to be categorized as the Schindlers of Brazil, Japan, Britain, China, Taiwan, and Rwanda. Bertold Bietz, a German citizen like Schindler, was simply referred to as ‘the other Schindler’ in Germany. In line with the great interest in Schindler during the 1990s, Wallenberg has been referred to as ‘Der Schindler von Budapest’, ‘the Swedish Schindler’, or occasionally before that as ‘Sweden’s other Folke Bernadotte’.72

The conclusion drawn from the preceding discussion is that the Sudeten-German Schindler has become at least as well known internationally, and as self-evident a history-cultural reference point, around the turn of this millennium as Wallenberg was from the late 1970s and for at least the following decade. It is in the nature of history-cultural analysis that status is changeable and varies over time. In conjunction with the 2012 commemorative year marking the centenary of Raoul Wallenberg’s birth, plus Nina Lagergren’s visit to Washington D.C. two years later to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor bestowed on her half-brother, the global spotlight was once again focused on the missing Swede. The great attention paid to him at that time has certainly faded now, but nor is Oskar Schindler invoked as often as in the early 2020s. As pointed out above, new events in our time create new selections from the past and thus new role models. This does not amount to saying that Wallenberg and Schindler are in danger of being forgotten in the foreseeable future. They are by now ‘institutionalized’, with their names not only on streets and buildings but also attached to institutions and organizations whose mission is to reward civic courage and counter racism. Moreover, they have become politically and educationally useful as their actions have been seen as worth emulating and invoking in present-day contexts. In conjunction with the re-release of Schindler’s List in US cinemas in 2018, 25 years after its 1993 premiere, the particular importance of young people watching the film was cited as being a possible countermeasure to the decline in knowledge among younger people and the rise in antisemitic views in virtually all age groups.73 Another illustrative example is the Raoul Wallenberg calendar published during the 2012 commemorative year, a publication filled with brief stories about people who had acted in his spirit. Day by day, the contents highlighted the principle of history as the teacher of life, since both Wallenberg the role model and all of his successors had acted in an exemplary manner.74 In other cases, the Swede’s exemplary deeds have been invoked to shine a spotlight on political shortcomings and wrong decisions, both past and present. For example, Wallenberg’s historical example has functioned as an alternative to a more restrictive Swedish refugee policy after 2015. Similarly, his actions have been sharply contrasted with Ireland’s similarly restrictive refugee policy in the 1940s and with the absence of any recent critical debate about the pervasive silence in Israel when the civil war in neighbouring Syria claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, a situation that prompted the question ‘Where is Israel’s Raoul Wallenberg?’75

Because of Schindler and Wallenberg’s latter-day fame, they have also been employed in comparisons between them and other individuals who made heroic contributions during the Second World War but only gained recognition afterwards. When the Romanian-Swede Constantin Karadja, whose efforts as a Romanian diplomat in Berlin and Bucharest saved tens of thousands of people from the concentration camps, received belated recognition in recent years, he was mentioned in the same breath as Wallenberg.76 The Swedish businessman and diplomat Raoul Nordling has been recognized for his efforts in 1944, particularly in France. As the Allies approached Paris, Hitler ordered the destruction of the city, but Nordling went to considerable lengths to persuade the German military on the ground to ignore the Führer’s orders. In addition to being awarded a French medal, having a square in the French capital and a street in Neuilly named after him, and being portrayed on the screen by Orson Welles and André Dussollier in Is Paris Burning? (1966) and Diplomacy (2013), Nordling, too, has ended up in the shadow of his namesake. In connection with the latter film, he was described as ‘the lesser-known Raoul’, with Wallenberg as the obvious object of comparison.77 One of many people who made major contributions during the Second World War but received limited recognition is the Latvian Janis Lipke, who managed to hide more than 50 Jews with virtually no resources and few contacts. Despite this, Lipke has received scant recognition, not least in his old home country, where interest in him is nowhere near that in foreign role models such as Schindler and Wallenberg.78

Raoul Wallenberg: a saviour and a spy?

The great interest in Raoul Wallenberg has come about despite, or possibly because of, the fact that much of what has been written about him and the Holocaust in Hungary is characterized by unanswered questions rather than clarifying answers. Another distinctive feature is that, barring a few exceptions, it took a long time for professional historians to begin to take an interest in the Swedish diplomat and his activities in Hungary. Recently, new evidence has been published about his and other rescuers’ activities in Budapest in 1944–1945, but there are still knowledge gaps pertaining to the extent and effects of Wallenberg’s activities in the Hungarian capital, both in real numbers and in comparison with other, concurrent rescue operations. Furthermore, there is disagreement as to whether Wallenberg left Budapest in the autumn of 1944 for some kind of secret mediation mission in Stockholm. One explanation put forward for his abduction by Soviet security officials is that he had accessed documents from investigations done in 1943, documents which proved that the Soviet security services were behind the mass murder of Polish officers, clergy, and intellectuals in Katýn.79 However, this is only one in a long line of speculations about why Soviet forces abducted Wallenberg and his Hungarian-Jewish driver Vilmos Langfelder in January 1945. More than 60 years later, the last years of their lives are still shrouded in mystery. Multiple shelves of books, many based on the testimony of people who claim to have spoken to or seen Wallenberg in Soviet prisons and detention centres, exist in the biography sections of libraries.

Among the ‘cloak-and-dagger’ actions attributed to Raoul Wallenberg are reports that the company he worked for in the early 1940s, Mellaneuropeiska, was part of the Swedish government’s official Economic Defence Readiness programme and was an important part of a scheme of collaboration between representatives of the Wallenberg family and the section of the Swedish intelligence service known as C-byrån [the C Bureau]. One possibility is that Wallenberg was carrying out secret missions for the Swedish state even before he arrived in Budapest in 1944, but no conclusive evidence that this was the case has been presented.80 According to one allegation, he worked closely in Budapest with the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS), but this is also disputed. When a large number of US Second World War documents were declassified in the mid-1990s, US commentators suggested that Wallenberg was probably ‘the only reliable man in wartime Budapest’. The Swedish side was not prepared to go that far. Jan Eliasson, then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, went so far as to admit that Wallenberg had been an ‘asset to the United States’. Per Anger was not willing to go to such lengths. He laconically stated that he had not seen Wallenberg, whom he kept close to on a daily basis, perform any intelligence work whatsoever. Besides, both he and Wallenberg had definitely been ‘busy doing other things than spying for the United States’.81

According to a report presented by a Russian-Swedish working group in 2000, the ‘other things’ in which Anger and Swedish intelligence officers in Budapest were involved were contacts with the Hungarian Resistance. At the same time, it was established that Iver Olsen, who was one of the driving forces behind the decision to send Wallenberg to Budapest, was an OSS agent, unlike the Swede. This did not rule out the possibility that the Americans had considered recruiting Wallenberg, but they appear to have been satisfied with being informed of the contents of his reports.82 That Wallenberg was posted at the request of the Americans, and that there was a person close to him who worked for US intelligence, remained a secret in Sweden for most of the Cold War. It is quite possible that Wallenberg knew nothing about Olsen’s connection with the OSS, but it is highly probable that Soviet intelligence knew that the Swede’s employer was an agent, which probably helped to convince them that Wallenberg, too, was secretly working for the Americans.83

Although it is unlikely that Wallenberg did act as a spy, language related to such a theme has been common. When a Swedish official White Paper on the Wallenberg case was published in 1957, a journalist observed that the disappearance of the Swedish diplomat was a tragedy akin to those of the ancient world, but also a fateful thriller. According to a fellow prisoner, Wallenberg had spent time waiting on slow trains in the final stages of the war, writing a spy novel based on his own experiences. Such a manuscript was likely to reveal many exciting episodes. It would also have been explosive material for the Soviet security officers who arrested him and who may have found it difficult to separate fact from fiction, since Wallenberg was de facto accused by the Soviet security services of being a German or American spy.84 Similar arguments were repeated in 1980, when the UD released seven volumes of material from the 1940s on the Wallenberg case. It was not least the ‘exciting reading involving Nazi and Communist agents, Hungarian nightclub dancers, and Finnish cheque fraudsters’ that, together with the handling of the case by Swedish diplomats, attracted media attention.85 According to one of Wallenberg’s colleagues, the diplomat in charge of sifting through the material was well suited to the ‘James Bond’ elements found in the Wallenberg dossier.86 Agent 007 reappeared as an object of comparison with the publication of Ingrid Carlberg’s biography of Wallenberg in 2012. She modelled her protagonist on Ian Fleming’s hero of novels and films, but with the important difference that while Bond had a licence to kill, ‘the real Wallenberg was an agent with a mission to save lives’.87

Soviet intelligence telegrams between Stockholm and Moscow had been deciphered from the 1940s to the 1970s by British, US, and – from the 1950s onwards – Swedish intelligence services. In the early 2000s, they were analysed by Swedish historian and intelligence researcher Wilhelm Agrell. His book about what was named the Venona project portrays Vilmos Böhm, a Hungarian who had been forced into exile after serving as Foreign Minister in Belá Kun’s short-lived Communist government from 1918 to 1919. Böhm came to Sweden in 1938; and along with Willy Brandt and Bruno Kreisky, among others, he was a member of the international group of democratic socialists that is sometimes referred to as the ‘Little International’. After the end of the war, Böhm became Hungary’s ambassador to Sweden, a post he left after the Communists came to power in 1948. Not least because of his language skills, he had become a valued member of the British intelligence service’s Press Reading Bureau during the war years, with special responsibility for monitoring events in Hungary. In this capacity, Böhm informed Wallenberg about suitable collaboration partners in Budapest prior to the latter’s departure for the Hungarian capital in 1944. After Wallenberg’s disappearance, Böhm claimed on several occasions that the Swede had died in Hungary. That information was already known. However, a new dimension has been added by the analysis of the Venona material: according to Agrell, Böhm had been recruited in 1942 as a paid spy for the NKVD under the code name Orestes, and in that capacity he had contributed to Wallenberg’s arrest by Soviet personnel in January 1945.88

The book sparked intense debate. On the one hand, Agrell was praised for his skills in source analysis.89 On the other hand, critics were doubtful or dismissive of what they saw as ‘serious accusations on … loose grounds, as incompletely deciphered spy telegrams do after all constitute’.90 More fuel was added to this exchange of views when members of Böhm’s family, who survived him, sued Agrell for damages, claiming that his statements amounted to libel. In the trial, during which two history professors acted as expert witnesses, Agrell was acquitted. The verdict was based on the observation that the material from the Venona project proved what Böhm had actually done. Agrell’s conclusion that Böhm had been a Soviet agent was therefore reasonable, because it was consistent with the political ambitions for Hungary expressed by Böhm during the last years of the war.91

A further aspect of the spy theme is that the initially meagre efforts of the Swedish authorities to clarify Wallenberg’s fate may have been a consequence of a note handed over to the Swedish government in August 1947, signed by Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrey Vyshinsky. It stated that the information that Wallenberg had been arrested by representatives of the Soviet security services on 17 January 1945 could not be confirmed, and that the Soviets had no knowledge of what had happened to the Swedish diplomat or his possible whereabouts. He had probably died during the final battle for Budapest or been captured by Hungarians loyal to the government, was the official Soviet position. A recent conclusion is that this note was not written in connection with Wallenberg’s possible death in a Soviet prison on 17 July 1947, but was mainly intended to provide counterfire to allegations that Soviet citizens, including embassy staff, had conducted espionage activities in Sweden.92

Raoul Wallenberg in and outside the archives

The view that the truth about Raoul Wallenberg has not yet come to light, but is hidden in Russian archives, has repeatedly been expressed.93 In recent years, this argument has been supported both by former KGB agents and by researchers familiar with Soviet and Russian archival collections. They claim that the files with the relevant information had indeed existed but had been destroyed, or that they still exist but that the material which has been released is ‘harmless’. If there is information among the documents that would place the Soviet rulers of those times in a bad light, it will never be made public.94 Dmitri Volkogonov drew a similar conclusion on the basis of his many years of studying Soviet archives. A colonel-general and head of the Soviet Union’s psychological defence department, Volkogonov had become increasingly critical of Stalin’s rule and of the Marxist-Leninist social system. This is evident in the books he wrote about Lenin and Stalin, relying on extensive archival research. In his voluminous biography of Stalin, he was able to provide – with references to archival material – examples of preserved correspondence referring to well-known non-Russian figures, many of whom were taken into custody by Soviet troops. Despite his comprehensive archival searches, he had not found a single document in the Soviet archives relating to Wallenberg’s fate.95

In a study of how the Soviet bureaucratic system handled Wallenberg’s case, with a focus on the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Soviet security services, Swedish political scientist Johan Matz notes that there was little information within these organizations in the immediate post-war years about the reasons why Wallenberg was arrested and the places to which he had been taken. To date, there is still no unambiguous evidence regarding the motives behind Wallenberg’s arrest. One starting point to work from is that Stalin wished to neutralize Wallenberg. The question of what lay behind this wish has been explained in various ways over the years, but it still awaits a definitive answer. The fact that this question remained unanswered even within the Soviet administrative apparatus contributed to a collision, as representatives of the security services were trying – with increasing desperation – to conceal a murder, while those working on foreign affairs were trying to understand why it had been committed.96

The information that has nevertheless been unearthed in the Russian archives has not provided any clear answers either. Over the past twenty-plus years, a joint Swedish-Russian enquiry and a Swedish government commission of enquiry have been conducted, but the investigators have not been able to establish with certainty when, where, and how Wallenberg died.97 As will be seen below, the stories of both former prisoners and prison guards have received considerable public attention, but following scrutiny by UD officials, they have been dismissed in a number of cases as being based on vague, inaccurate, outdated, or untrue information. In addition, when former KGB agents put their memories on record after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it turned out that scant new information emerged about the Cold War’s most high-profile cases, including that of Wallenberg.98 In fairness, it should be said that despite all the obstacles, the greater opportunities for investigation following the Soviet Union’s collapse have not merely led to far-ranging speculation. The extensive preparatory work that resulted in the Russian-Swedish working report examined both old testimonies and material previously hidden in the Russian archives. As a result, doubts were sown among Russian investigators as well as to the reliability of the death certificate asserting that Wallenberg died in 1947. In conjunction with the late 1980s’ interest in Stalinist terror, and in coming to terms with it, Russian lawyers and journalists began taking an interest in Wallenberg’s fate and in the various Soviet versions of it that had culminated in the publication of the death certificate in 1957; but that did not provide answers as to why Wallenberg and Vilmos Langfelder had been arrested. However, uncertainty about the document’s authenticity and contradictory Soviet versions of what had happened to the Swede did not go so far as to result in any official Russian reassessment.99 Nevertheless, the publication of previously unknown source material did lead to a number of questions being answered. As Wilhelm Agrell observed, the answering of existing questions, together with the discovery of new sources, has led to the raising of new questions.100

This book does not shed any new light on the question of how many Jews Wallenberg saved or what happened to him in Soviet captivity. My starting point is, at least in part, a different one. The story of Raoul Wallenberg is not confined to questions of what he did and how he did it. Over time, his life, in particular the time he spent in Budapest plus his subsequently largely unknown months and years in Soviet captivity, has been filled with new meaning and been transformed into a legend charged with symbolism. The encounters between life and legend form the core of this book.

Myths and meanings

‘He has remained forever young. His honour and his calling have not let him grow old’, said Hungarian President Árpád Göncz when he inaugurated the Wallenberg exhibition in Budapest in 1992.101 However, questions about exactly which factors made Wallenberg eternally young and relevant remain to be answered. Accordingly, in order to explain the change from the emphasis in 1945 on the collective efforts of the Swedish Legation to the strong focus on Wallenberg in recent decades, other factors than the actual historical ones must be taken into account and other types of material must be analysed. For example, monuments, films and television series, postage stamps, operas and symphonies, musicals, plays, and novels are essential elements within the larger narrative about him. These and other kinds of history products about Wallenberg have been conveyed through different channels and by different groups, whose impact has varied over time.

On a more general level, the French historian Henry Rousso reminds us that nations and other massive entities are created by many different sources. In his study of how post-war France has dealt with the problematic legacy of the Vichy regime, he states that signals are transmitted via various carriers of collective memories. These include people who were directly involved in the historical events and who wish to set up links between personal and collective memories. In this book, that category is mainly covered by Wallenberg’s relatives and the diplomats who served with him in Budapest. Rousso has also identified scholarly carriers who seek factual information and credible conclusions. ‘Looked at it in this way’, Rousso writes, ‘a work of history is a carrier of memory like any other and subject to the same changing influences.’ Yet another category is cultural carriers. These operate at many different levels in society, most notably in the media in a wide sense, including literature, film, and television. Characteristically, their messages are implicit rather than explicit. As we shall see, media and history products have had great impact as effective carriers of Raoul Wallenberg, and new generations have passed on his story. Rousso points out that official carriers are of great importance for the creation of collective memories. These carriers are not people, but ceremonies and monuments. Events and statues often express unity but are in fact products of compromise, as the road to the end result is long and lined with competitions, meetings, and debates.102 This is also true of most of the events and monuments dedicated to Wallenberg.

The concept of Wirkungsgeschichte (history of effects), coined by the German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer, deals with types of impact that are the consequences and effects of a historical course of events. It also refers to the ways in which a work or an individual has been received and processed in retrospect in various times and places. It is mainly in the latter sense that this term has been employed. With the help of such an ‘after-history’ it is possible to answer questions about when Wallenberg went from being a vanished and little-noticed Swede to being a world-famous symbol, what led to this change, and what the motives are behind the still-frequent use of him as a role model. These aspects of the history of effects are at the heart of the analysis in this book of how official Sweden has handled Wallenberg’s actions and disappearance, his importance as a pawn in the Cold War game between the US-led Western bloc and the Soviet-dominated Eastern bloc, and the many media narratives in words and pictures about him. To put it another way, I start from history-didactic questions about where, when, how, and why Raoul Wallenberg has been remembered and utilized. What factors explain why he was rarely celebrated by Swedish politicians for a long time, whereas he was exalted as a larger-than-life hero abroad, especially in the United States? What actors have paid attention to him, and what have their motives been? What symbols and other forms of expression have been used in order to portray him in the post-war period? How does his image agree with and deviate from those of other historical role models?

Correcting misconceptions and inaccuracies is, of course, a historian’s job, but legends and myths are rarely, if ever, built and perpetuated by lies and fabrications alone. Arguably, it is also an essential task for a historian to explain how and why some stories of dubious veracity gain traction and influence while other, more credible, narratives fall by the wayside. In this vein, one reviewer (who is also a historian) of Swedish books on Raoul Wallenberg has argued that a historical text that deals with both the Holocaust and the Stalinist terror was ‘too serious a matter to be left to myopic professional historians of the source-fetishist type, those who cannot see the wood for the trees and believe that there are “facts” that “speak for themselves” and that the specific sources they have used contain all the “facts”’.103 A colleague came to a similar conclusion when he championed the perspectives made possible by the ‘second wave of Wallenberg literature’, arguing that ‘nowadays both the historical and the mythological Wallenberg are realities that we must be able to relate to simultaneously’.104

A closely related insight is that the power and the meaning-making functions of myths must be taken seriously instead of being dismissed out of hand. In history-cultural studies, the phenomenon of the myth, including its components and functions, is of great interest, as is the close connection between myth and hero worship. Myths have existed in all civilizations. The objects and ritual acts through which they have been expressed have varied, but ‘the motives for mythic thought and mythic imagination are in a sense always the same’.105 In its original sense, a myth is the story of a divine event which explains and imparts meaning to human existence. However, the starting points of myths are not only religious; myths have been used in many other meaning-making contexts, too. One reason why they contribute meaning is their transhistorical nature; they can be constantly adapted to new circumstances and places. The same holds true in key respects for saints and heroes. Hagiography originates as a literary and religious genre that describes saints and their cults. Hero worship is closely related but has also been described as a secular religion, and in countless cases heroes are indeed the protagonists of secular mythological narratives. Like the myth, both hagiography and the hero narrative are idealized and simplified. It is not the life a person has lived, but rather the selections from their life that are thought to be particularly memorable, relevant, and appropriate starting points for identity creation, that lie at the heart of the saint, legend, and hero narratives.106

Accordingly, unlike the ideals of historical scholarship that prevailed from the beginning of the twentieth century and stayed strong through the decades after the Second World War, the present enquiry is not a matter of exposing and breaking down myths that contradict established historical facts. In recent years, scholars have emphasized that myths continue to serve important functions in explaining how the world works, our place in it, and our image of ‘the others’. We may not recognize these myths, though, as they are sometimes hidden behind established concepts. Even so, studying the popular expressions of myths may constitute a way of accessing their components and analysing their functions and purposes. Political scientist Cynthia Weber argues that fictional films about international relations which deliberately create links to modern myths contribute to making real-life contacts between world leaders more understandable. This cross-fertilization can be extended to other aspects and helps to build bridges between the political and the popular, and between the large scale and the everyday.107 On the basis of similar material and starting points, I draw attention to and analyse the hero-myths of Raoul Wallenberg in different times and places, as well as the ways in which they have contributed to attempts to find some kind of meaning in the Holocaust by focusing on one individual who tried to stop the madness.

As has been established by research on identity creation, individuals want to be part of larger contexts. One way to achieve this is to link their own time-limited life stories to the history of a nation or some other large entity that extends over time. In troubled times and unsafe places, this connection is forged by linking past heroes and heroic deeds to present-day issues and to expectations of a future, and safer, society.108 At a time when the lessons to be learned from the Holocaust are accorded high priority, it is therefore hardly surprising that a person like Wallenberg is held up as a role model over and over again. Consequently, specific historical selections from his life – as well as the myths, legends and heroic notions with which he is associated – have occasionally had to be adapted to new conditions in time and space. Such processes of history-cultural adaptation are at the focus of this study.

About this book

Most history-cultural studies have so far been based on the type of history that has been conveyed within a broad social context. Using Raoul Wallenberg as an example, Tanja Schult has shown how books about him, often written in a popular-science style, have influenced both the form and the content of other representations of the vanished Swede and his actions.109 As I have explained, history in the public sphere – via press debates, monuments, films, and television series, as well as intertextual connections between various types of history products with a focus on Wallenberg – is also of central importance in this book. It is complemented by another important aspect of the Wallenberg case, namely the diplomatic game behind the scenes and the interplay between covert diplomacy and the open public sphere. Anyone who follows the history of Raoul Wallenberg over time will soon become aware of his significance to the politics and diplomacy of several countries. Another factor that stands out for anyone looking back from the early 2020s is the new forms that this diplomacy has assumed. For decades, secrecy, hush-hush dealings, and negotiations away from the public spotlight have been complemented by public diplomacy, according to which foreign relations are part of the brand of a nation. The more attractive something is, the more reason there is to refer to old and new role models. Applied to this study, one question begs to be answered: what traces have the secret negotiations concerning Wallenberg’s disappearance at the highest political and diplomatic levels – particularly in Sweden, the Soviet Union, and the United States – left in the public sphere, and, conversely, in what ways have high-impact history-cultural products influenced foreign policy and diplomacy?

I have sought many of the answers to the above questions in the archives of the Raoul Wallenberg Committee, and even more in the documents on Raoul Wallenberg that UD staff have collected over decades. This material, amounting to some 140 volumes, is stored at the archives and library of the Swedish Government Offices in Stockholm. The fact that a small part of the material, totalling some 230 pages, is still classified information has been questioned in recent years, not least because no clear explanation has been given for the non-publication of these documents.110 For a long time, virtually all of the UD’s material on Raoul Wallenberg was kept secret. Documents in the case, which date up to 2018 and total 170,000 pages, have twice been made available to researchers, most recently in 2019 when 66 volumes were made public. More than 70 volumes had previously been made available to the independent commission of enquiry, whose members published Ett diplomatiskt misslyckande: Fallet Raoul Wallenberg och den svenska utrikesledningen [‘A failure of diplomacy: The case of Raoul Wallenberg and the Swedish Foreign Office’] in 2003. Their work was the result of a compromise between Sweden’s then Social Democratic government, which had proposed that a number of researchers investigate the matter, and the centre-right opposition, which wanted a commission of enquiry. The task of the investigators was twofold: to report on Wallenberg’s mission in Budapest and its outcome, and on the actions of the Swedish foreign-policy leadership following his disappearance in January 1945.111

The enquiry was thus an investigation undertaken in order to clarify, as far as possible, the actual course of events in the Hungarian capital while the Second World War was still happening and to examine the actions of Swedish diplomats in the Wallenberg case during the first few years after the war. By its very nature, a history-cultural analysis starts from dissimilar questions and draws attention to other aspects than those highlighted in the extensive work of the commission of enquiry. For this study, I have drawn on the wealth of books and articles about Raoul Wallenberg, as well as on diaries and autobiographies written by diplomats and politicians who have worked on or had insights into the Wallenberg case, plus material in other archives in Sweden, the UK, Israel, and the United States. In addition, I have followed the discussions about Raoul Wallenberg in newspapers, magazines, and radio and television programmes from the initial post-war years up to the present day, mainly focusing on Sweden and the United States. In this rich material, articles, opinion pieces, interviews, and reviews in newspapers and magazines have played an important role, above all when they relate to Wallenberg being the subject of plays, opera performances, monuments, television series, and feature films.

In analysing the history-cultural products dedicated to Wallenberg, I have endeavoured to overcome the limitations long associated with divisions between the traditions of different disciplines. Historians have been considered to have a good eye for the bigger picture, but their longstanding concentration on textual interpretations has resulted in flawed and insufficient analysis of concrete objects and images of various kinds. Conversely, art historians have been praised for their close readings of individual works by recognized artists, but they have been criticized for a lack of interest in placing their findings in larger social contexts. Similarly, for much of the twentieth century, art historians have been rather uninterested in the collective and popular art movements of preceding centuries, such as the monumental tradition and historical painting. Another objection has been directed against the dominant interest on the part of art and film studies in avant-garde artists and film directors, who have come to be known as auteurs. Proponents of auteur theory have argued that these moving-image equivalents of art’s solitary geniuses could be extracted from the collective process that filmmaking almost always entails. The result has often been neglect of monuments and of feature films and television films produced for mass audiences. In recent decades, however, more researchers have been paying increased attention to the image productions of popular culture.112

It is worth stressing that the divisions outlined above have by no means been universal. Recent decades have seen a number of collaborations and fruitful borrowings across old disciplinary boundaries and divisions. In line with this development, my aim has been to study both the form and the content of images of Wallenberg, my starting point being that images often require other methods and approaches than studies of the printed word. Similarly, different kinds of questions are relevant for the different aspects of Raoul Wallenberg that are discussed in this book. It is, for instance, highly relevant to apply the classic type of source analysis, focusing on determining when the source was created and for what purpose, and to study tendentious elements in connection with discussions of Wallenberg’s deeds and how he has been treated in all kinds of secret and public contexts in the post-war period.

Other parts of my analysis are based on materials that have been produced with different aims than that of shedding new light on Wallenberg and on recent reactions to his disappearance. Here, too, other methodological approaches are required. To be sure, questions of origins and purpose are still of interest to anyone studying a monument, a television series, or a feature film, but discussions that start out from the question of whether these are true or false, or have a tendentious content, will lapse into absurdity. Nor is it enough to study the design and symbolic meanings of individual monuments. The history of their creation and their placement within urban or cultural landscapes are of crucial importance, too. It is also essential to consider films and television productions on the basis of their specific conditions and circumstances. Focusing unilaterally and exclusively on how moving images reflect political and ideological trends and values tends to be misguided. The choice of director and actors, marketing efforts, and viewer reactions are indispensable elements in the analysis of films and television programmes. These types of considerations have guided my close study of visual works dedicated to Raoul Wallenberg, while my aim has been to place him and his actions within the political, ideological, and history-cultural context of the post-war period.

1 Martin Eriksson and Martin Töpffer, ‘Raoul Wallenberg begärd dödförklarad’, Expressen, 29 March 2016; Eduardo Eurnekian and Baruch Tenembaum, ‘What really happened to Raoul Wallenberg?’, The New York Times, 4 November 2016; ‘Raoul Wallenberg officially declared dead, 71 years after disappearance’, Haaretz, 31 October 2016.
2 Jonas Gummesson, ‘Hemlig dagbok: Wallenberg avrättad av “Doktor Död”’, Svenska Dagbladet, 6 June 2016; Neil MacFarquhar, ‘In a Dacha wall, a clue to a Cold War mystery’, The New York Times, 7 August 2016; Gudrun Persson, ‘En bra rysk story – om vi bara kunde lita på den’, Utrikesmagasinet, 9 September 2016.
3 Jangfeldt, En rysk historia, p. 432.
4 Werbell and Clarke, Lost Hero, p. x.
5 Lynn Simross, ‘Holocaust survivors record acts of heroism: Eyewitness recalls Raoul Wallenberg’s exploits during the war’ (interview with Tibor Vayda), The Los Angeles Times, 7 April 1985; Adachi, Child of the Winds, pp. 23–24.
6 Lajos, ‘Raoul Wallenberg i muntliga källor’, pp. 252, 256–261.
7 ‘Raoul Wallenbergs gärning’, Judisk Tidskrift, 1946:7, 216–218; Villius and Villius, Fallet Raoul Wallenberg, pp. 46–47; Staffan Rosén, ‘Raoul Wallenbergs porträtt målades under blodigt kaos’, Skånska Dagbladet, 24 April 1971; Carlberg, Raoul Wallenberg, pp. 334–335.
8 ‘Wallenberg kämpade med S:t Georgs vapen’, Göteborgs Morgonpost, 24 April 1945.
9 Mia Leche Löfgren, ‘Dubbelbottnad avsikt’ (review of Jenő Levai, Raoul Wallenberg – hjälten från Budapest), Göteborgs Handels- och Sjöfartstidning, 8 June 1948.
10 Schult, A Hero’s Many Faces, pp. 51–60, quotation p. 60. See also Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, pp. 19–20.
11 Neuman, ‘Wallenberg? Which One?’, p. 77. See also Handler, A Man for All Connections, pp. 7–9.
12 Sjöquist, Raoul Wallenberg, p. 17.
13 Adachi, Child of the Winds, especially p. 24.
14 Lagergren, ‘Still, We Cannot Close This Chapter’, p. 8. See also King, ‘In Tribute to Raoul Wallenberg’, p. 6; Rosenfeld, Raoul Wallenberg, pp. 17 ff. and Schult, A Hero’s Many Faces, p. 65, where she writes: ‘In retrospect, Wallenberg’s upbringing appears as the optimal precondition for becoming a universal hero.’
15 Nils Schwarz, ‘Dubbelarbete’, Expressen, 3 June 2012; Lennart Bromander, ‘Hjältesagans slut’, Aftonbladet, 23 June 2012.
16 Schwarz, ‘Dubbelarbete’.
17 Bromander, ‘Hjältesagans slut’; Patrick Salmon, ‘Raoul Wallenberg bortom helgonbilden’, Respons, 2012:4, 49–52; Ulf Zander, ‘Dubbelt upp om Wallenberg’, Populär Historia, 2012:11, 64–65.
18 Monica Porter, ‘Review: Raoul Wallenberg’, The Jewish Chronicle, 23 February 2016. See also Per Svensson, ‘Outsidern som blev en hjälte’, Sydsvenskan, 7 June 2012; Jan-Olov Nyström, ‘Raoul Wallenberg i dubbel belysning’, Skånska Dagbladet, 7 June 2012; Disa Håstad, ‘Nya spår i fallet Wallenberg’, Axess, 2012:5, 75–76; Zander, ‘Dubbelt upp om Wallenberg’; Lesley Chamberlain, ‘Schutzpass’, Times Literary Supplement, 15 August 2014; Steve Donoghue, ‘“Raoul Wallenberg”’ tells the story of the bureaucrat who fooled the Nazis’, The Christian Science Monitor, 24 March 2016; Tony Moriarty, ‘Raoul Wallenberg by Ingrid Carlberg: Review’, The Irish Times, 14 May 2016; Neil Robinson, ‘Book review: Raoul Wallenberg: The biography’, The Irish Examiner, 21 May 2016; Rafel Medoff, ‘Raoul Wallenberg’s journey from grocery salesman to Holocaust hero’, Haaretz, 30 August 2016.
19 Joanna Bourke, ‘Enigma of the lost hero’, The Daily Telegraph, 27 February 2016.
20 Marrus, The Holocaust in History, p. 178.
21 See e.g. Lichtenstein, Raoul Wallenberg; Nicholson and Winner, Raoul Wallenberg; Hillary Rodham Clinton and Carl Bildt, ‘Wallenberg’s life-giving legacy’, The New York Times, 16 Janauary 2012; The International Herald Tribune, 17 January 2012 and, in Swedish, ‘Vikten av att inte vara likgiltig’, Svenska Dagbladet, 18 January 2012.
22 Rubenstein, The Myth of Rescue pp. 191–194; Handler, A Man for All Connections, p. 109; Levine, From Indifference to Activism, pp. 248, 277. See also Schult, A Hero’s Many Faces, p. 42.
23 Levine, ‘Raoul Wallenbergs uppdrag i Budapest’, pp. 269–271, quotations pp. 269, 271. See also Paul Levine, ‘The myth has obscured the reality of his heroism’, The Washington Post, 7 January 2001, also published as ‘The Wallenberg myth: Swedish diplomat was certainly a hero but his deeds and stature have been distorted by time’, The Montreal Gazette, 17 January 2001.
24 Levine, Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest, p. 291. See also Carl Johan Gardell, ‘Hur mycket hjälte var Wallenberg?’ (interview with Paul A. Levine), Upsala Nya Tidning, 17 April 2010.
25 Karlsson, ‘Historiedidaktik’, p. 58. See also Karlsson, ‘The Holocaust in European Historical Culture’, pp. 431–433 and Karlsson, ‘The Uses of History and the Third Wave of Europeanisation’, pp. 46–54.
27 Lajos, Hjälten och offren, pp. 57–63, 93–99, 177–227.
28 See Lomfors, Blind fläck, pp. 27–32; Zander, ‘To Rescue or be Rescued’, pp. 361–365.
29 See e.g. Philipp, Raoul Wallenberg, p. 13; Hugo Valentin, ‘En partisan i mänsklighetens tjänst: Anförande vid Konserthusmötet den 11 jan. 1948’, Judisk Tidskrift, 1948:1, 5; Isak Klasson, ‘Raoul skulle inte vilja kallas hjälte’ (interview with Wallenberg’s assistant in Budapest 1944–1945, Gabriella Kassius), ETC, 15 March 2009; Linnéa, Raoul Wallenberg, p. 145; Lévai, Raoul Wallenberg, hjälten i Budapest, pp. 8, 190–191. However, the last-mentioned was not consistent, because in the same text he described Wallenberg as ‘the fairy-tale hero’, p. 259.
30 Krister Wahlbäck, ‘Alltför ivrig nedskrivning av en hjälte’, Svenska Dagbladet, 25 April 2004; Fredrik Lindström’s review in Scandia 2004:2, 330–331; and Ulf Zander, ‘Wallenberg: Man and Myth’, The Hungarian Quarterly, Summer 2006, 166–168. See also George Z. Bien, ‘Remembering Raoul Wallenberg’, The Washington Post, 16 January 2001.
31 Ricki Neuman, ‘Raoul Wallenberg – en hjälte värd ett eget museum’, Svenska Dagbladet, 27 August 2016.
32 Lajos, Hjälten och offren, pp. 309, 315.
33 See Morse, While Six Million Died, p. 361.
34 Bauer, ‘Conclusion: The Holocaust in Hungary’, p. 207.
36 Levine, ‘Raoul Wallenberg Was a Real Life Hero’, p. 33.
37 Ingrid Carlberg, ‘Hjältestoryn trampar fel’, Dagens Nyheter, 14 April 2010. For a similar critique, see Schult, ‘Whose Raoul Wallenberg is it?’, pp. 781–783 and Schult’s reviews in www.H-Soz-u-Kult.de, 20 May 2010 (accessed 5 June 2010) and in ‘Myter om mannen bakom myten’, Judisk Krönika, 2010:3, 12. See also Georg Sessler’s critique of Levine’s interpretation of Wallenberg’s business dealings, with a starting point in the source material ‘Myter kring myten Raoul Wallenberg’ and Levine’s reply in ‘Vilseledande om en sann berättelse’, both in Judisk Krönika, 2010:6, 38–39.
38 Niclas Sennerteg, ‘Omvärdering av Raoul Wallenbergs insatser’, Borås Tidning, 29 March 2016. For similar assessments, see Ola Larsmo, ‘Klas Åmark: Förövarna bestämmer villkoren: Raoul Wallenberg och de interrnationella hjälpaktionerna i Budapest’, Dagens Nyheter, 29 March 2016 and Annika Borg, ‘Inte ensam hjälte’, Axess, 2015:5, 83–84.
39 Fredrik Persson-Lahonen, ‘Raoul Wallenberg var ingen hjälte’, Aftonbladet, 3 April 2016.
41 Oakeshott, On History and Other Essays, pp. 15–21.
42 White, The Practical Past, pp. xiv, 9–10, 42–46, quotation p. 10.
43 Rüsen, ‘Holocaust Memory and Identity Building’, pp. 252–269.
44 See Berkhofer Jr, Fashioning History, pp. 133–213.
45 Zander, Clio på bio, pp. 11–39.
46 Gerner and Karlsson, Folkmordens historia, p. 95.
47 Rüsen, Historische Orientierung, pp. 211–213, 219–225.
48 The project ‘Förintelsen i den europeiska historiekulturen’ is presented in Karlsson, Med folkmord i fokus. See also Karlsson, ‘The Holocaust as a Problem of Historical Culture’, pp. 9–58; Karlsson, ‘The Holocaust as a History-Cultural Phenomenon’, pp. 85–96; Karlsson, ‘The Holocaust in European Historical Culture’, pp. 427–440. Usage aspects of Holocaust images are discusssed in Zander, ‘Den slingrande vägen från Auschwitz’, pp. 283–319. The American perspective is often cited in the project, above all in conjunction with Martin Alm’s comparative article ‘Holocaust Memory in America and Europe’, pp. 494–524.
49 Drucker and Cathcart, ‘The Hero as a Communication Phenomenon’, pp. 2–8; Strate, ‘Heroes’, pp. 15–23.
50 Holbrooke, ‘Defying Orders, Saving Lives’, p. 135.
51 See Karlsson, ‘Historiedidaktik: begrepp, teori och analys’, pp. 37–43.
52 Karlsson, ‘The Evil Twins of Modern History?’, p. 12.
53 Karlsson, Europeiska möten med historien, pp. 15–36, quotation p. 35.
54 Österberg, Tystnader och tider, pp. 34–35, 204–207.
56 Stig Hadenius, ‘Hur blir man en hjälte? Varför är Folke Bernadotte nästan bortglömd?’, Arbetet, 22 August 1985. On a list from 1974 of 30 world-famous Swedes, Hammarskjöld was one of those selected, in contrast to Folke Bernadotte and Raoul Wallenberg; see Inga-Lill Valfridsson, ‘30 svenskar som blev kändisar i hela världen’, Aftonbladet, 5 May 1974. Like Hadenius, Shelley Emling does not supply evidence that Folke Bernadotte is now A Forgotten Hero, to cite the title of her biography.
57 Erik Åsard, ‘Jag ser mitt liv som ett långsamt uppvaknande’ (interview with Olof Lagercrantz), Tiden, 1986:3, 146; also published in Olof Lagercrantz, Vårt sekel är reserverat åt lögnen, p. 466.
58 Brown, Courage, pp. 65–88; ‘Kofi Annan on public service, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 June 1998; Annan, ‘Introduction by Kofi A. Annan’, pp. 13–15; Leijonborg, Kris och framgång, p. 300; Jan Eliasson, ‘Inte en timme att förlora: Raoul Wallenberg angrep ondskan instinktivt och tveklöst’, Dagens Nyheter, 18 January 1995; Svante Lidén, ‘Sju frågor till Jan Eliasson’, Aftonbladet, 5 October 2009; Eliasson, Ord och handling, p. 27. It may be added that Holbrooke mentions Wallenberg in the same breath as Folke Bernadotte and that it is regularly pointed out that Kofi Annan is married to Raoul Wallenberg’s niece, the lawyer and artist Nane Lagergren; see e.g. Matthias Nass, ‘Der Mann, den Madeleine wollte’, Die Zeit, 1996:52; Barbara Crossette, ‘Salesman for unity: Kofi Atta Annan’, The New York Times, 14 December 1996; Barbara Crossette, ‘How U.N. chief discovered U.S., and earmuffs’, The New York Times, 7 January 1997; Dagmar von Taube, ‘Die Frau an Kofi Annans Seite’, Die Welt, 9 December 2001; Warren Hoge, ‘Annan, at U.S. urging, seeks special U.N. Session to mark liberation of death camps’, The New York Times, 19 December 2004.
59 Holbrooke, To End a War, p. 147. See also Richard Holbrooke, ‘The Road to Sarajevo’, The New Yorker, 21 and 28 October 1996 and Richard Holbrooke, ‘Defying orders, saving lives: Heroic diplomats of the Holocaust’, Foreign Affairs, June 2007, 137.
60 Lundgren, I hjältens tid, pp. 21–26.
61 Giorgio Perlasca, an Italian who, like Wallenberg, made great efforts to save Jews in Budapest in 1944–1945, was clearly unknown to some of the people at the UD who were working on the Wallenberg case when Perlasca contacted Swedish authorities on at least two separate occasions; see e.g. K. O. Stefanson, ‘Till Kungl. Maj:ts beskickning i Rom’, 25 April 1951 and Stellan Ottosson, ‘Raoul Wallenberg – Perlasca’, Memorandum, 21 January 1982, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/00009, Vol. 16.
62 See e.g. Reese Erlich, ‘World War II Holocaust hero’s honor caught up in politics’, The Christian Science Monitor, 4 September 1986 (on Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese consul in Bordeaux); Judith Weintraub, ‘Hero refused to turn away from persecuted Holocaust: After more than four decades of obscurity, Giorgio Perlasca has been honoured for protecting thousands of Jews in Budapest’, The Los Angeles Times, 22 November 1990; Roman Freud, ‘De okända rättfärdiga’, Judisk Krönika, 1991:4, 12–13; Gerhard Gnauck, ‘Die “polnische Wallenberg”’, Die Welt, 31 January 2004; Klein, Jag återvänder aldrig, pp. 69–100; ‘Portugals Wallenberg hedras stort’, Göteborgs-Posten, 21 October 2021.
63 Barany, ‘The Current Stage of Research on Raoul Wallenberg’, p. 569.
64 See e.g. Morse, While Six Million Died, p. 364; Tschuy, Dangerous Diplomacy, p. 7.
65 Ben-Tov, Facing the Holocaust in Budapest, p. 388; Paldiel, Saving One’s Own, pp. xix–xxi; Camargo, ‘Preface’, p. 7.
66 Ted Merwin, ‘“Wallenberg”, the musical’, The Jewish Week, 19 October 2010; Steve Lipman, ‘Spreading Wallenberg’s legacy’, The Jewish Week, 10 March 2006.
67 Crowe, Oskar Schindler, pp. 542–563; Zander, ‘Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg’, pp. 459–462.
68 Cole, Selling the Holocaust, pp. 80–81.
69 Alan Travis, ‘Could Raoul Wallenberg still be alive?’, The Guardian, 18 February 1997.
70 DVD cover of Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg, First Run Features (2002).
71 Guy Walters, ‘Hungary’s Oskar Schindler: He saved thousands of Jews from the gas chambers, but Raoul Wallenberg is now an almost forgotten figure’, The Sunday Times, 21 November 2010.
72 Gösta von Uexküll, ‘Wer hat zuletzt Raoul Wallenberg gesehen? Schwedens zweiter Folke Bernadotte in sowjetischen Gefängnissen verschlossen’, Die Zeit, 12 April 1956; Gert Sundström, ‘Sugiharas List’, Judisk Krönika, 1996:4, 21–23; Stewart Ain, ‘The lost history of the Holocaust’, The Jewish Week, 13 November 1998; Tony Paterson, ‘Berlin plaque pays tribute to “Schindler of Stourbridge”’, The Independent, 25 November 2004; Jake Wallis Simon, ‘Revealed: The Hungarian “Schindler” who saved George Soros from Nazi death squads during the occupation by hiding him behind a cupboard’ (about Miklós Próhaszka), The Daily Mail, 26 November 2018; Gary Shapiro, ‘The Brazilian Schindler’, The New York Sun, 13 December 2004; Judith Miller, ‘Searching for an Arab Oskar Schindler’, The New York Sun, 7 November 2006; Michael Streich, ‘John Rabe, the Oskar Schindler of China’, www.suite101.com, 28 September 2011 (accessed 28 June 2015); Matthew Day, ‘Raoul Wallenberg: Holocaust heroes’, The Telegraph, 1 September 2011; Heinz W. Koch, ‘Der Schindler von Budapest’, Badische Zeitung, 10 July 2012; Gillian Brockell, ‘“A Japanese Schindler”: The remarkable diplomat who saved thousands of Jews during WWII’, The Washington Post, 27 January 2021. See also Wiesen, ‘Overcoming Nazism’, pp. 201–202.
73 Stephen D. Smith, ‘“Schindler’s List” more relevant than ever’, The Detroit News, 7 December 2018.
74 The 2013 Raoul Wallenberg calendar has been highlighted by e.g. Danielsson Malmros, ‘Den historiska berättelsen i teori och praktik’, p. 185.
75 Pär Frohnert, ‘Så blev flyktingmottagandet en svensk paradgren’, Dagens Nyheter, 15 October 2015; Klas Åmark, ‘Så kan Raoul Wallenberg hjälpa oss att göra rätt val i flyktingpolitiken’, Dagens Nyheter, 20 June 2016; Stephen Collins, ‘State did nothing to save Jews, says Shatter’, The Irish Times, 13 September 2012; Aluf Benn, ‘Facing atrocities in neighboring Syria, where is Israel’s Raoul Wallenberg?’, Haaretz, 15 December 2016.
76 Langer and Berglund, Constantin Karadja, pp. 16, 69, 88, 153, 193. See also Per Wästerberg, ‘Hjälten som Sverige har glömt bort’, Svenska Dagbladet, 15 December 2016.
77 Mikael Forsell, ‘Ny film om svensk krigshjälte’, Göteborgs-Posten, 10 May 2013. The director of Diplomacy, Volker Schlöndorf, dedicated the film to one of Wallenberg’s admirers, Richard Holbrooke; Lara Marlowe, ‘Low-key diplomacy saved Paris from Hitler’s wrath’, The Irish Times, 26 March 2014.
78 Janis Lipke was highlighted in the 1990s by Per Ahlmark, who compared Lipke only with Wallenberg; see Per Ahlmark, ‘Vilken historia skriver balterna?’, Expressen, 25 January 1992; Ahlmark, Det öppna såret, p. 377. In his autobiography, the comparison is extended to also include Schindler; see Ahlmark, Gör inga dumheter medan jag är död!, pp. 385–395.
79 Ungváry, The Siege of Budapest, p. 341–342.
80 See Susanne Berger and Vadim Birstein, ‘Raoul Wallenberg and Mellaneuropeiska – Swedish economic “agents” in World War II’, www.birstein.com (accessed 5 December 2021); Hardi-Kovacs, Hemligast av alla, pp. 228–229.
81 ‘WWII savior of Jews reportedly spied for U.S.’, The Los Angeles Times, 5 May 1996.
82 Palmklint and Larsson (eds), Raoul Wallenberg, pp. 40–45. See Pierrejean and Pierrejean, Les secrets de l’Affaire Raoul Wallenberg, pp. 261–263.
83 Agrell, The Shadows around Wallenberg, p. 4. See Smith, Lost Hero, p. 160.
84 Gunnar Müllern, ‘Wallenberg föll offer för sitt namn!’, Aftonbladet, 8 February 1957. See also ‘Beskylld för spioneri: “Ni är ett politiskt fall”’, Dagens Nyheter, 8 February 1957.
85 Disa Håstad, ‘UD:s rafflande volymer ger delvis fog för kritik’, Dagens Nyheter, 1 February 1980.
86 Leifland, ‘Lars-Åke Nilsson’, p. 447.
87 Kristian Gerner, ‘Helgon och agent’, Judisk Krönika, 2012:4, 23.
88 Agrell, Venona, pp. 295–301; Wilhelm Agrell, ‘Raoul Wallenbergs vän förrådde honom’, Dagens Nyheter, 12 May 2003. See also Agrell, The Shadows around Wallenberg, pp. 177–178.
89 See e.g. Kim Salomon, ‘Det kalla krigets hemliga värld’, Sydsvenskan, 3 June 2003.
90 Ingemar Lindmarker, ‘Levandegjord spionhistoria’, Svenska Dagbladet, 15 June 2003. See also Lennart Lundmark, ‘Med hjälp av gamla telegram’, Dagens Nyheter, 31 May 2003.
91 Gerner, ‘Fallet Raoul Wallenberg, Vilmos Böhm och Stalin’, p. 76.
92 Matz, ‘The Konnov/Mikhailov/Barourskii espionage crises’, pp. 30–51.
93 See e.g. (Örjan) Berner, ‘Wallenbergaerendet’, 6 September 1989, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/00008, Vol. 34; Andrei Sacharov, ‘The fate of Raoul Wallenberg’, Moscow News, 1987:37; Åke Gustafsson, ‘Sanningen om Wallenberg’, Svenska Dagbladet, 22 August 1979; Harald Wigforss, ‘Den förnekade fången’, Upsala Nya Tidning, 29 May 1982; Ricki Neuman, ‘Ny bild av Raoul Wallenberg’, Svenska Dagbladet, 20 April 2007; ‘Nytt material kan ge ledtrådar om Wallenbergs öde’, Expressen, 2 August 2011; ‘Formal request to the Swedish government and archival authorities on the Raoul Wallenberg case’, 26 March 2018, www.rwi-70.de/documents/the-swedish-catalogue (accessed 29 March 2022).
94 Sudoplatov and Sudoplatov, Special Tasks, p. 286; Brent, Stalins arkiv, pp. 190–193; Roginskij and Ochoton, ‘Die Archive des KGB’, pp. 54–55; Magnusson, ‘The Search for Raoul Wallenberg’, p. 184. See also Björn Lyrvall, ‘Samtal med Arsenij Roginskij och Nikita Petrov i RW-ärendet’, 21 April 1994; RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2018/05505, Vol. 11; Björn Lyrvall, ‘Ryske riksarkivarien Pichoja om RW-ärendet’, 8 February 1995, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2018/05505, Vol. 12.
95 Volkogonov, Stalin, p. 500. However, in a conversation with Ambassador Sven Hirdman, Volkogonov did not rule out the possibility that documents about Wallenberg could still surface, since new revelations had indeed emerged from discoveries in the archives after the fall of the Soviet Union; (Sven) Hirdman, ‘Wallenberg-ärendet’, 9 February 1995, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2018/05505, Vol. 12.
96 Matz, Stalin’s Double-Edged Game, pp. x, 304–305.
97 Palmklint and Larsson (eds), Raoul Wallenberg, especially chapter 14; Eliasson et al., Ett diplomatiskt misslyckande. See also Martin Hallqvist, ‘Aide-mémoire’ 2 October 1997, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2018/05505, Vol. 16.
98 See e.g. Björn Lyrvall, ‘Samtal på SVR i RW-ärendet’, 6 February 1995, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2018/05505, Vol. 12; Knight, ‘The Selling of the KGB’, pp. 16–23.
99 The material dealing with the Russian-Swedish working group fills a large number of volumes in the previously classified materials in the Swedish Government Offices’ archive. For the Russian doubt about the death certificate from 1947, see further in RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2018/05505, Vol. 36. See also Mikael Holmström, ‘Raoul Wallenberg kan ha överlevt angiven dödsdag’, Svenska Dagbladet, 23 December 2000.
101 Árpád Göncz quoted in Lundvik, ‘My Undertaking Began On a Grey Autumn Day 1960’, p. 15.
102 Rousso, The Vichy Syndrome, pp. 219–221, quotation p. 220.
103 Kristian Gerner; ‘Helgon och agent’, Judisk Krönika, 2012:4, 22.
104 Wilhelm Agrell, ‘Den andra Raoul Wallenbergvågen: levnadsteckningarna, källkritiken och mytologin’, Historisk tidskrift, 2013:1, 74. See Zander, ‘Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg’, pp. 453–454.
105 Cassirer, The Myth of the State, p. 51.
106 Wecter, The Hero in America, pp. 5–10; Schult, A Hero’s Many Faces, p. 28; Schult, ‘Whose Raoul Wallenberg is it?’, pp. 771–772.
107 Weber, International Relations Theory, pp. 4–10, 178–188.
108 Shalit, The Hero and His Shadow, pp. xv–xvi.
109 Schult, A Hero’s Many Faces, p. 119; Schult, ‘Whose Raoul Wallenberg is it?’, pp. 777–778.
110 See e.g. (Christian Democratic member of the Riksdag) Mikael Oscarsson’s parliamentary proposal for the publication of the materials that are still classified: Offentliggör all information om Raoul Wallenberg Motion 2019/20:2813 av Mikael Oscarsson (KD) – Riksdagen (accessed 1 December 2021).
111 Eliasson et al., Ett diplomatiskt misslyckande, pp. 43–44; Eliasson, Jag vet var jag kommer ifrån, pp. 296–297.
112 See further Andersson, Berggren, and Zander, ‘Bilden som källa’ and literature they refer to there.
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Raoul Wallenberg

Life and legacy


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