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The Americanization of Raoul Wallenberg

Some musical works that build on Raoul Wallenberg’s actions and fate form the point of departure for an argument aimed at problematizing a previously predominant view of the Americanization of the Holocaust. According to that view, adaptation to the conceptions of US audiences mostly involves simplification and a reduction of nuance. With an eye on increasing interest in Wallenberg in the 1970s, the chapter analyses how he became an important factor in American foreign policy and popular culture. The chapter discusses examples of creative negotiation between information about his life drawn from scholarly studies on the one hand and representations of Wallenberg on the other, especially with reference to the American television serial Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story and the Swedish-Hungarian feature film Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg.

In the mid-1980s, the Jewish-American composer Leonard Bernstein was working on a multilingual opera that would ‘be about half a century of learning nothing’.1 The beginning of the performance would be set in Austria two months before the Anschluss. Other settings were to include Łodz and Lyon during the Second World War. The final stop would be a cell in the Gulag with one of the opera’s main characters: Raoul Wallenberg. Working on the opera was demanding. With the catastrophic history of the twentieth century in general, and the Holocaust in particular, in mind, Bernstein described ‘the exhaustion, physical and emotional, of living through it, then and now’.2 The burden was too heavy to bear; at his death in 1990, the opera remained unfinished.

Had Bernstein been able to complete his project, he would have joined an already longstanding post-war tradition of references to the Holocaust in art music. It is therefore no surprise that others have taken up the baton and set Wallenberg’s life and fate to music in recent decades. The fruits of this musical interest in the Swedish diplomat include the musical Wallenberg, staged in New York in 2010, and three operas: Wallenberg, premiered in Dortmund in 2001; Raoul, premiered in New York in 2008; and Raoul Wallenberg – saknad [‘Raoul Wallenberg – missing’], a work composed by Inger Wikström that was first performed in 2018.

Forms of expression that are considered to be art music are characterized by their combination of concrete and abstract elements. Memories of and references to the Holocaust can therefore be manifested in a less clear-cut manner than they are in prose and moving images. This creates ‘a broader and possibly more expansive interpretive space’.3 By contrast, the reactions to Raoul were straightforward. The German Michael Kunze, known as a successful music producer and writer of musicals, had written the libretto. The composer was Gershon Kingsley, who had fled Berlin for Palestine in 1938 at the age of 15. Later he emigrated to the United States, where he became a pioneer in electronic music and a musical composer of everything from religious hymns and soundtracks to advertising jingles. Kingsley’s main focus on Wallenberg’s last days in Budapest is evident in the musical, which features the characters of Iver Olsen, Per Anger, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin. Raoul draws on the spreading rumours in the Hungarian capital, which convinced some people that Wallenberg was working for the Germans and others that he was a US spy. In interviews prior to Raoul’s German premiere in Bremen in 2018, Kingsley admitted that his friends’ prediction had come true: they had said he would have ‘a tough time’ with this work. Both the public and the critics objected to flaws in the musical craftsmanship, over-simplifications of the plot, a palpable poverty of ideas, some overly obvious adaptations to the present day, the ‘comic-book dialogue’, and ‘the generally hysterical tone and heavy-handed symbolism’. If opera was to be used for Vergangenheitsbewältigung – coming to terms with the past – then Raoul was not a suitable work.4

Wallenberg, with music by Estonian Erkki-Sven Tüür and libretto by German playwright Lutz Hübner, is set mainly in Budapest, where Wallenberg is fighting the Germans led by Adolf Eichmann. A key theme is that without a relevant narrative, a role model like Wallenberg has difficulty in asserting himself or herself, but also that there is a danger that the legend and myth around the person may create a one-dimensional figure. The opera’s first act focuses on Wallenberg’s departure for Budapest and his activities in the Hungarian capital. He is portrayed as an altruistic figure who is grappling with feelings of doubt and inadequacy. In the second act the historical context is less evident. His imprisonment in the Gulag is the starting point for how the historical Wallenberg fell victim to the myth of him as an almost superhuman hero and role model.

In the first act, Eichmann predicts that Wallenberg will be the loser of the drama. All that will remain is the hero’s halo and a portrait bust, but neither is of any practical use to the Swede. Wallenberg and Eichmann have been the main antagonists regardless of where the opera has been performed. The production staged in Tallinn in 2007 by the Russian opera director Dmitry Berman was more in keeping with Tüür’s vision of how it should be staged than others. The audiences and critics responded very favourably, even though the Estonian version of Wallenberg was coloured both by the tragic story and by a highly charged present-day context. The opera premiered in the shadow of the internationally publicized controversy over the Bronze Soldier, the statue of a Red Army soldier which – despite vigorous protests from Estonia’s Russian minority – was moved from central Tallinn to a war cemetery on the city’s outskirts, plus a concurrent debate over the decoration of the roof of the opera building. It had been redesigned during the Communist era and decorated with socialist-realist motifs of happy peasants and welcoming Red Army soldiers. Demands were made to the effect that these should also be relocated farther away, but they were not heeded.

In an interview, Tüür declared Wallenberg to be his most overtly political piece, mainly because he wished to use the fate of the Swedish diplomat to dramatize ‘the two evil regimes of the twentieth century’.5 The Tallinn production featured a striking difference in how the Nazi and the Soviet evils were portrayed. Perhaps owing to the tense situation between Estonians and Russians in Estonia, the opera’s Soviet prison guards were made to appear harmless, in sharp contrast to the German soldiers. The latter were traditionally portrayed as exuding harshness and ruthlessness, qualities reinforced by their black leather uniforms, modern-style riot helmets, and Star Wars-like laser sabres. By contrast, their Soviet counterparts were cheerful comrades in glittering red uniforms.

During his time as head of drama and opera in Dortmund, the English director John Dew commissioned operas about the gay-rights activist Harvey Milk, the West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, and Raoul Wallenberg. Dew argued that these men, by virtue of their deeds, showed kinship with the fictional opera heroes of old. In one interpretation of Dew’s attitude, one enthusiastic Swedish reviewer of the premiere screening of Wallenberg declared that the protagonist ‘deserves to be immortal. Like an Elvis, like a Lady Di. He is needed’.6 Other reviewers were also favourable, but with some reservations. One theme with variations was the discrepancy between the historical Wallenberg’s stature and the opera tenor’s vain attempt to portray the greatness of his role model.7 Other unfavourable comments noted shortcomings in both music and libretto and observed that the finale was ‘grossly irreverent’.8

The ‘Wallenberg Circus’ that filled every square inch of the stage did not invite any approving comparisons with post-war celebrities. Instead, the message was that Wallenberg’s posthumous fame was a worse prison than the Soviet one, and that in this process it is not Communism but US popular culture that is the great culprit. This line of thinking was highlighted with the help of the opera’s Elvis Presley figure, who asserted that Graceland was as effective an incarceration for him as the Gulag was for Wallenberg. The stage was then invaded by Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters, US astronauts, naval officers, and President Ronald Reagan, who was seen signing the document making Wallenberg an honorary US citizen; the President is nothing more than a puppet under the control of Eichmann’s ghost. As the drama draws to a close Wallenberg again comes on stage, but this time in the form of a gymnast tasked with portraying the Swedish diplomat as the Jesus of our time: they both died for our sins.9

In the opera, Wallenberg remains a selfless role model who risks his life to save others. However, he is also a victim both of Stalin’s dictatorial rule and of the phenomenon that has been disparagingly labelled as a Holocaust-Hollywood industry. What Tüür and Hübner did not take into account was that this popular-culture industry, which the concept’s originators criticized, is an important prerequisite for Wallenberg’s heroic status. Without the great interest of the film and television industry in the figure of Wallenberg from the late 1970s onwards, there would have been far less likelihood of him becoming the lead character in operas.

To refer again to the theories of Henry Rousso, these productions may be regarded as a few of the many examples of cultural bearers of the memory of Raoul Wallenberg. But what different kinds of characteristics distinguish these cultural reminders of the lost Swede? And how exactly did Wallenberg go from being a politically problematic reminder in Sweden of a man who disappeared in the powerful neighbouring country to being a globally relevant symbol? One factor that is of great importance in the present chapter is the Americanization that Wallenberg underwent from the late 1970s onwards. Modern scholarship has repeatedly discussed an ‘Americanization of the Holocaust’. One of the hallmarks of this Americanization is the existence of many American Holocaust scholars, a number of whom made pioneering contributions in the field during the 1950s and 1960s. Another is a growing American-Jewish interest in the Nazi genocide, with the aim of strengthening Jewish identity at a time of increasing secularization. Other scholars have stressed that this Americanization is an inevitable element in making the Holocaust relevant in a multiethnic and multicultural United States, while still others have equated Americanization with a universalization of the Holocaust. One distinctive feature of this process is that the genocide committed by the Nazis and their allies during the Second World War is portrayed as one in a series of repressions and persecutions by authoritarian regimes.10

Critics of the Americanization of the Holocaust argue that its most distinctive feature is the ongoing and increasing commercialization of this genocidal history, as expressed mainly through novels and feature films set in concentration and extermination camps. In the latter case, this Americanization has been associated with adaptations to values that are central to an US ideological tradition, such as freedom, equality, individualism, and innocence.11 Those who criticize the Americanization of the Holocaust argue that even if these values may be considered acceptable, what is far worse is that their extension entails vulgarization while involving a profit motive, as manifested in sentimentality and happy endings because ‘[p]opularizers of the Holocaust have tended to look for cheap grace, for easy sources of consolation. They have sought to minimalize evil or severely limit its implications’.12

However, the Americanization of the Holocaust is far more multifaceted than that. First, US representations of the Holocaust are far more varied than this hostile attitude suggests. Second, views of the Holocaust in the United States have undergone a number of shifts since the end of the Second World War. As in many other places, the US view of the Holocaust in the early post-war decades often differed from the one that has come to dominate in recent decades.13 As Klas-Göran Karlsson has pointed out, there is also another less value-charged and more analytical aspect of this Americanization:

When the Holocaust is Americanized, the starting point is that the representation and meaning of the genocide changes when it is adapted to broadly held American values and is thereby integrated into American history culture. Conversely, this means that the Holocaust just as inevitably leaves its mark on this history culture.14

From this reasoning it follows that certain aspects of Raoul Wallenberg came to be emphasized, partly because they corresponded well with American attitudes but also because the Swedish diplomat’s actions left their mark on American society. The American outrage at Sweden’s feeble actions on his behalf, as detailed in the previous chapter, is one side of this coin. The edifying and individualistically conceived television series Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story, to which we shall return shortly, is the other.

An emerging international interest

Among the Hungarians, and especially the Jews who fled the country at the end of the war, Wallenberg was remembered. The same was true among many of those forced to flee by the 1956 Hungarian crisis.15 As noted earlier, American interest was initially much in evidence, but it gradually waned. However, references to Wallenberg and his achievements were still being made throughout the 1950s, especially in Jewish radio programmes and magazines.16 Wallenberg’s deeds were highlighted from time to time in daily newspaper articles in various countries, often written by people with personal knowledge of his activities in Budapest. The trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem in 1961 featured briefings on the places where the German SS officer and his associates had operated during the war. In the account of the Holocaust in Hungary, Wallenberg was described as a particularly courageous individual, ‘a man of sterling qualities’ whose actions had resulted in his becoming ‘[t]he main target of [Eichmann’s] venom’.17 The Swedish White Papers of 1957 and 1965 also made echoes in the West.18 For example, the first one received attention in the Swiss daily newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung.19 One reader of that article was a man named Carl Lutz. Like Wallenberg, he had issued protective passports to save as many Jews as possible. His superiors disapproved, however, and after the end of the war they berated him for having exceeded his authority. The article about his missing diplomat colleague prompted Lutz to write to a member of the Swiss government. His aim was to persuade his government to exert pressure on the Soviet leaders, but his appeal fell on stony ground. Lutz also failed to win personal recognition. At the same time, he tried in vain to gain international support for his own nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, citing his efforts to save Budapest’s Jews as the main justification.20

One close associate of Wallenberg’s was Per Anger, who regularly monitored what was written about his missing colleague in Sweden and internationally. When Heiner Lichtenstein, later founder of the West German Raoul Wallenberg Association, published a book about the Swedish diplomat in 1982, Anger was quick to respond. While he appreciated that a German was taking an interest in Wallenberg, the problem was a number of inaccuracies in the book. For example, Lichtenstein claimed that Wallenberg had left Budapest for a trip to Stockholm in the autumn of 1944. Anger found this statement completely erroneous. Having been in daily contact with Wallenberg, he could attest that his colleague had not left Hungary during the period in question. For the same reason Anger also dismissed the report that Wallenberg had met with Joel Brand, who had been involved in an attempt to exchange Jews for lorries. Anger stressed that Brand was entirely unknown to the Swedes at the Legation in Budapest.21

The situation when Anger wrote his letter differed dramatically from the circumstances that prevailed when Lutz appealed to his government or, for that matter, a mere couple of years before. Relatives and members of the Wallenberg campaign had worked hard for a long time to bring Wallenberg to general attention on the other side of the Atlantic, but with little result. In Sweden there were regular articles about Wallenberg every time negotiations with the Soviet Union arose. On the international stage, the Wallenberg case was followed by a limited though often well-informed crowd.22 One cause of the relative silence about Raoul Wallenberg during the period from 1965 to 1978 was the lack of any new and credible evidence about his fate in the Soviet Union. As we have seen, the information supplied by the Jewish Polish exile Abraham Kalinski was revealed as unreliable by people who had the opportunity to subject his claims to close scrutiny. Consequently, those claims did not result in any new answers from the Soviets.

Nevertheless, it was around 1980 that the history-cultural turning point regarding Wallenberg occurred. At this point in time, information was published to the effect that Soviet politicians might have been prepared to discuss Wallenberg’s release at an early stage, but had met with no clear response from the Swedish Foreign Office (Utrikesdepartementet, UD). The disclosure resulted – yet again – in a considerable number of articles about Swedish dereliction of duty in the immediate post-war years.23 Alongside these articles, there was criticism of the way in which Swedish officialdom was seen to respond in a wait-and-see manner to the growing international interest.24 These objections did not lead to any change of course by the Swedish government and the UD, though. Well into the mid-1980s, senior representatives felt that it was not appropriate, or indeed possible, to exert pressure on the US government to take up the Wallenberg case.25

Elsewhere in the West things were different. How are we to understand that Raoul Wallenberg became a hero to the broad mass of humanity at this time? One reason for this renewed interest, a reason to which considerable importance has been attached, was the death of Wallenberg’s mother and stepfather in 1979.26 The Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal, who had begun to take an interest in the Swedish diplomat as early as 1971 and who had kept in contact with the UD on the case, noted a marked increase of attention around 1980. Wiesenthal contributed to this increase, among other things by lobbying for Wallenberg to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.27 Demonstrations were held outside Soviet embassies to mark the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Swede’s disappearance. Demands for pressure to be exerted on the Soviet government were made both by Wiesenthal and by more or less well-known Americans and Canadians, who wrote to Swedish Prime Minister Ullsten calling for renewed Swedish pressure on the Soviet authorities and demanding that Sweden boycott the 1980 Olympic Games in the Soviet capital.28 Of even greater significance was the international Wallenberg hearing held in Stockholm in 1981. Old and new reports about his imprisonment in the Soviet Union were presented there in an attempt to shed light on his fate.29

In addition, more and more international politicians engaged with the issue. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin requested clarification of what had happened to the Swede, as did US President Jimmy Carter. The latter was probably spurred on by domestic critics, who maintained that US leaders had been uninterested in the Holocaust and had therefore remained passive both during the Second World War and in the immediate post-war decades. US scholars had long debated whether their country’s leadership, with President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the head, had done enough to stop the Holocaust. One critic, Arthur D. Morse, went so far as to label the US (and British) responses to what had been going on for a long time as bordering on apathy. He did, however, approve of the War Refugee Board and its activities in Budapest, as well as the efforts of Wallenberg. Morse argued that it was the War Refugee Board and its resources that made his work possible. In return, Wallenberg's deeds were essential when it came to legitimizing the very existence of the organization.30 Henry L. Feingold reasoned along similar lines when he stressed the Swedish and Swiss efforts to rescue Jews in Hungary, although these efforts could not conceal the fact that ‘the rescue operation in Hungary was a failure’. The task he left to future historians was to assess how much greater this failure would have been had representatives of the Roosevelt administration not initiated the War Refugee Board in 1944.31

However, criticism of American actions during the Second World War was not the only reason why Wallenberg was now repeatedly referred to in the United States. He was a perfect fit for that country during the Cold War of the 1970s and 1980s, at a time when attitudes towards totalitarianism caused people to view Nazism and Soviet Communism as birds of a feather. The reborn American Wallenberg Committee and other committed Americans exerted pressure on increasingly interested American politicians.32 In 1979 two influential senators, Frank Church and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, helped to launch a committee to work for Wallenberg’s release. American enthusiasm for Wallenberg gained official status in 1979, when the US government presented an award to Nina Lagergren in recognition of Raoul Wallenberg’s achievements in Budapest. At the same time, US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance revealed that his country had officially become involved in the Wallenberg case. Both Carter and Vance had made official representations to the Soviet government.33 Other politicians, such as the Democrats Claiborne Pell and Thomas Lantos, plus his wife, Annette – the latter two of whom were Hungarian Holocaust survivors – supported the proposal to make Raoul Wallenberg an honorary American citizen. The Lantoses were a driving force in the matter of Wallenberg, and around 1980 they attracted unprecedented attention. One result of their efforts was the resurrection of a Wallenberg Association in Sweden. They also helped Nina Lagergren and Guy von Dardel in their attempts to establish contact with US politicians, with the express aim of getting them to become actively involved in exerting pressure on the Soviet – and Swedish – authorities.34

One highlight of this international attention was that in 1981, the US Congress almost unanimously – of the 398 who voted, only two did not support the initiative – approved the proposal to make Raoul Wallenberg an honorary American citizen. In the early 1980s Guy von Dardel moved to sue the Soviet state. He turned to Morris Wolff, a lawyer specializing in international law. Wolff had some difficulty in gaining the ears of some of Reagan’s advisers, but he did meet with a powerful response from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He could also rely on support from the Lantoses and Claiborne Pell. The collaboration between Wolff and von Dardel resulted in the latter’s filing a high-profile lawsuit against the Soviet Union in a US court in February 1984. The suit demanded Soviet clarification about Wallenberg’s fate, 83 million dollars in compensation, and – most importantly – the release of the Swedish diplomat, as the lawsuit proceeded from the presumption that he was still alive. Not surprisingly, Moscow provided no new information on the matter. Nor was there any Soviet reaction after a US judge ruled in October 1985 that the Soviet Union had violated international law in arresting Wallenberg. Despite the lack of response from the Kremlin, the lawsuit helped to focus renewed attention on the Swedish diplomat both in the United States and elsewhere.35

Wallenberg became an honorary citizen of Canada in 1985 and of Israel in 1986. A year later he was honoured by the World Jewish Congress. During the 1980s, monuments began to be erected in his memory, and streets and squares were named after him, some of them directly linked to places with a Holocaust connection. Examples include the trees dedicated to Wallenberg on the road in the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem that honours the Righteous Among the Nations. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. is located at 100 Wallenberg Place. Since the turn of the millennium, criticism and frustration have been expressed that individual cities do not have any location named after Wallenberg.36

As a result of this fresh attention, Wallenberg committees were established in a number of countries.37 Another consequence was a renewed and greatly intensified cooperation between the Swedish and the American Wallenberg Committees. The extensive correspondence in the Raoul Wallenberg Association’s archives bears witness to a reawakened optimism.38 This was also evident in the press coverage of the case. In the wake of the findings presented in the White Papers of 1957 and 1965, a number of writers had argued that while there was no certain evidence that Wallenberg was dead, Swedes must be prepared to accept that this was the case.39 Wallenberg’s relatives and their supporters disagreed. As seen earlier, Nanna Svartz’s testimony had sparked renewed hope that in spite of everything, Wallenberg might still be alive.40

Around the same time as American interest in Raoul Wallenberg was growing, Elsa and Hans Villius resumed their criticism of unreliable informants who claimed to have met or heard of Wallenberg after 1947.41 Such objections still fell on deaf ears among most of those who were involved in the case, people who hoped that now it had become a major international political issue, the missing Swede could be found and returned. One striking example is a multi-page article published in the early 1980s and supplemented by a map of the Soviet Union on which all the places where witnesses claimed to have met or seen Wallenberg were marked.42 During the 1970s and 1980s witnesses claimed to have seen him alive with their own eyes, or they asserted that they knew he was still a prisoner in a camp or prison.43 The actor, film director, and writer Kenne Fant dedicated R, a 1988 documentary novel based on the premise that Raoul Wallenberg was still alive in 1986 and was recalling episodes from his long life, to the ‘73-year-old Soviet dissident Danylo Shumuk, who, like Raoul Wallenberg, has been imprisoned for more than 42 years’.44 A few years later, in a Canadian newspaper, Per Anger maintained that believing that his colleague from Budapest was still alive was not mere wishful thinking. Of course, Soviet prisoners lived in harsh conditions, but they were forced to live healthily, eating food with little fat, and having no access to alcohol or tobacco. A prisoner was simply not permitted to die. The Swedish actress and human-rights activist Sonja Sonnenfeld stated along the same lines that: ‘I don’t say he could still be alive today. I say I know he is alive. We want to know his fate, but that’s not enough. We also want him free.’45

The Swedes who had been working for decades both to clarify Wallenberg’s fate and to secure his release received help from abroad in the 1980s. When the BBC journalist John Bierman initially heard the story of the missing diplomat, he doubted its veracity. He was equally puzzled that no Westerner outside Scandinavia had as yet written anything substantial about Wallenberg. Bierman took on the task, and in 1981 he published the book Righteous Gentile: The Story of Raoul Wallenberg. Before that, he had produced a documentary film in the ‘Man Alive’ series, entitled Missing Hero: Raoul Wallenberg (1980). In the film, Bierman interviewed the Romanian Jew Leizer Bergher / Lazar Berger. After the Soviet Union had occupied Bessarabia, the Romanian had been transported eastwards, imprisoned, and then forced to fight in a Soviet penal battalion before being re-imprisoned. He remained in the Gulag camp and prison system until 1978, after which he emigrated to Israel. In conversations with Israelis and Swedish diplomatic staff he variously claimed not to have met Wallenberg, or that they had been in the same prison together until the severely ill Swede had died in 1964. In the film Bergher said he had only heard of Wallenberg. The main reason for Bergher’s inclusion in the documentary about Wallenberg, despite his contradictory information, seems to be Bierman’s desire to inform viewers that it was possible to survive 34 years in Soviet camps.46 Similar hopes were held by a number of Israeli members of the Rescue Wallenberg Committee of Jerusalem, which claimed in 1989 that Wallenberg had been a patient in a Moscow hospital two years earlier.47 Chairwoman of the Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States Rachel Oestricher Bernheim did not say where her role model had gone after that, but even when she had first become involved in the Wallenberg case in 1981, she had refused to accept the claim that he had died in 1947. She has since maintained this position.48

The US citizen journalist Harvey Rosenfeld predicted that the newly awakened commitment to the Swede’s cause around 1980 would in all likelihood mean that ‘[t]he case of Raoul Wallenberg will not go away’.49 Behind the scenes, US politicians were making cautious overtures to Soviet and Swedish politicians.50 In the Swedish public sphere, there was uncertainty about how far the United States was prepared to go and what the Soviet reaction would be.51 Either way, it was argued that it was important to act quickly, or it would definitely be too late. When a Swedish tabloid conducted a phone-in about whether Wallenberg might still be alive, it added the follow-up questions ‘if so, where and how?’52 As Guy von Dardel wrote to Henrik Beer at the Red Cross headquarters in Switzerland, the renewed attention paid to Wallenberg not only benefited the search for von Dardel’s half-brother, but also many other forgotten prisoners in the Soviet Union.53

The revived international, and especially American, interest in Raoul Wallenberg in the late 1970s should be regarded in the light of a change in attitude towards the Holocaust. From the end of the war until the early 1960s, the Holocaust had left little trace in American history culture. When the atrocities of the Second World War were discussed, the dominant topic was the massacre of thousands of Polish officers at Katyn. At the Nuremberg trials, Germany had been blamed, but persistent suspicions that the guilty party was actually the Soviet secret service helped to keep the issue alive. After all, during the Cold War Nazi Germany had been supplanted by a new totalitarian enemy: the Soviet Union. In addition, West Germany was an important Western ally, a circumstance which also helped to dampen the already meagre efforts to draw attention to the Nazi genocide.54 McCarthyism likewise increased fears of new outbreaks of the antisemitism that had been strongly entrenched in the United States until the outbreak of the Second World War. With the exception of The Diary of Anne Frank, books about antisemitism and the Holocaust rarely reached a wider audience. The new medium of television first dramatized Wallenberg’s actions in Budapest in 1957, but the programme was not widely publicized, and in general the Nazi genocide was still rarely a topic in television and film. The Eichmann trial, which was the first judicial process to be broadcast on US television, temporarily raised awareness, but it did not lead to any breakthrough on a broad front.55

One important cause of the growing interest in the Holocaust was the tense situation in the Middle East. In the context of the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel emerged as a vulnerable and exposed nation in need of American support. Perhaps – so the drastic warning went – the destruction of the Jews had not been averted by the fall of the Nazis, but merely postponed.56 Around 1980, too, representatives of various political camps were drawing parallels between the situation in 1940s Europe and that in the contemporary Middle East. The plausibility of such analogies was questioned, but the comparisons between then and now nevertheless helped the Holocaust to become much more widely known.

In his study of the role of the Holocaust in the United States, Peter Novick has emphasized that silence predominated until the mid-1960s. This was mainly due to the difficulty for survivors to speak about the tragedy or, when they did speak out, a reluctance to listen among the rest of the population, who preferred to focus on memories of American triumph rather than on the tragedy of the Holocaust. When American Jews celebrated the three-hundredth anniversary of the arrival of the first Jews to the United States in 1954, there was no mention whatsoever of the tragedy that had occurred only a decade or so earlier.

In the following decades, American Jews gradually shifted their position. Previously, they had mostly discussed internal Jewish affairs, but Jewish newspapers and magazines increasingly presented topics with greater universality. Simultaneously, the general understanding of the Holocaust became increasingly associated with Jews as the largest group of victims owing to the Nazis’ antisemitic obsession. There were certainly still considerable political, cultural, and religious differences between Jewish right-wing and left-wing groups, but there was at least one unifying link: ‘there was something for everybody in the Holocaust’. Novick stresses that this shift cannot be reduced to changes in the political sphere alone. One determining factor was the transformation in the late 1970s of the Holocaust from being a predominantly Jewish memory to being an American one.57

This shift in attitude, as well as the question of when the memory of the Holocaust took shape in the United States, has been the subject of much debate. Critics of Novick have pointed to other possible explanations, such as a decline in antisemitism and racism in US society at that time, the desire of older Jews to help ensure the survival of the memory of the Holocaust, and the successful efforts of Jewish intellectuals, scholars, and artists, all of whom contributed to giving this genocide a more prominent position, for example in universities and the media, and in film and on television.58

Raoul Wallenberg and the mass media

A key history-cultural explanation for the growing interest in the Holocaust in the years around 1980 is the impact of the television series Holocaust (1978). Although it was heavily criticized by parts of the establishment, it was a public success, and it changed the status of the Holocaust in one stroke from a subject that had been researched to some degree but with little impact on the general public. As more than half the population in many countries followed the tragic fate of the Weiss family from the late 1930s to the end of the Second World War, the Nazi genocide received unprecedented attention. In its wake came questions about what had happened to those individuals who had dared to stand up to the Nazis in order to save the Jews. Nina Lagergren’s visit to the United States in 1979 met with great interest from US journalists. Through their questions, the younger journalists revealed that they had little knowledge of the Wallenberg case, ‘yet they were deeply moved and eager to find out more’, said Lagergren. More and more Americans had discovered Wallenberg and regarded him as one of the greatest heroes of the Second World War.59 But what lay behind this surge of interest after 34 years of dormancy? Lagergren was sure of the answer: ‘As far as I can tell it is thanks to the television series Holocaust. … The same thing happened in Germany and England, where committees for the liberation of Wallenberg were also formed’.60

One of the driving forces behind the American Wallenberg Committee, the aforementioned Annette Lantos, confirmed this conclusion at a subsequent press conference. She believed it was an advantage that the television drama had only focused on a few individuals. Like many others, she engaged more when confronted with the courage and goodness of a few people rather than with large-scale and anonymous depictions of the Nazi mass murder. Lantos also called for some kind of sequel to Holocaust, which should focus on Wallenberg. His story must be told over and over again, and it was important that new generations heard about the Swedish hero, preferably in the form of a film or television series.61 She and others who were involved in trying to discover Raoul Wallenberg’s fate probably harboured the same hope that was expressed once a television series about the Swede had become a reality: a narrative told in moving images would make even more people interested in the missing diplomat and thereby act as a catalyst for finding a solution, once and for all, to the mystery of what had happened to him after January 1945.62

Ronald Reagan, who had followed his presidential predecessor in advocating Wallenberg’s becoming an honorary American citizen and who had signed the bill making it law in October 1981, looked forward to a television drama about the Swede’s actions in Budapest. With his acting background, Reagan often referred to films as role models and reference points that had a bearing on current issues. Unsurprisingly, Wallenberg’s tragic fate reminded Reagan of a movie: it worked dramaturgically and was ‘a script that fascinated Reagan and that he mastered to the full’, writes journalist Staffan Thorsell of the President’s penchant for discussing Wallenberg with Swedish political leaders visiting the White House.63

For Reagan, the step between politics and religion was a short one. Consequently, he frequently referred to the Bible, a text which supplied the answers to virtually every problem and challenge. As a product of Judeo-Christian tradition, he repeatedly turned to representatives of Jewish organizations, not least to stress the importance of remembering the Holocaust in order to guard against totalitarian regimes such as that of the Nazis.64 He included Raoul Wallenberg in such contexts on a number of occasions. The memory of the missing Swede, whose achievement was ‘of biblical proportions’,65 was invoked by Reagan both during meetings with representatives of Jewish communities and at ceremonies to honour the victims of the Holocaust or those who had survived the genocide.66

The President regularly reminded his audience of the link between Wallenberg’s actions and the Soviets’ responsibility for his disappearance. He was helped by the decision of Congress to make the Swede an honorary American citizen, as it stipulated that the President should ‘ascertain from the Soviet Union Wallenberg’s whereabouts’.67 When Reagan spoke at the European Parliament in Strasbourg to mark the fortieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War, Wallenberg was a self-evident topic, but this time Reagan refrained from linking him with Soviet repression. This did not prevent him from harshly attacking Soviet foreign policy and Communism as a form of government, which caused a number of MEPs to start booing and several of them to leave the room in protest.68 Some of the disgruntled parliamentarians may also have agreed with the critics who had reacted strongly to the President’s actions a few days earlier. Following months of intense pressure, he had decided to visit a concentration camp in conjunction with his state visit to West Germany, but he also joined West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in honouring fallen soldiers at the Bitburg war cemetery, where a number of Waffen-SS soldiers who might have been suspected of helping to shoot and kill unarmed Americans during the 1944 Battle of the Bulge were buried.

Given this general context, Reagan and his advisers almost certainly realized that the story of the diplomat who had disappeared in the Soviet Union would be a highly useful tool in the ongoing Cold War. They must surely also have known that the Nazi genocide had made a powerful impact on the general public – although with a few decades’ delay – owing to the success of the television series about the tragic fate of the Weiss family in the late 1970s. The Americanization of much of the world in the second half of the twentieth century has been a prime example of how successful soft power can be. When he launched the concept, its originator, the political scientist Joseph S. Nye, could look back on several decades of soft-power instruments which had helped to spread desirable values. As he noted, the importance of soft power cannot be overestimated. Various forms of popular culture have often effectively contributed to their recipients voluntarily reconsidering ingrained values.69

This is not to claim that culture – ranging from its most popular forms of expression to avant-garde experiments aimed at the few – is at the service of those in power. From installations and happenings to music, films, and television programmes, there are plenty of examples that have inspired protests and other forms of resistance. It is equally clear that the importance of television series such as Roots and Holocaust, in drawing attention to past injustices that had sometimes received limited attention before, must not be underestimated. These cultural manifestations have thereby become part of a history-cultural processing in the form of a kind of collective therapy. This reasoning may be applied to the dual trauma expressed in the visual representations of Raoul Wallenberg, to which we shall return shortly. On the one hand, these representations proceeded from the deep wound inflicted by the Holocaust, above all on the perception of Western civilization, with complex and longstanding repercussions. And on the other, they highlighted Wallenberg’s disappearance, which was hence expanded from being a family tragedy and the subject of a Swedish domestic political controversy to being a tragic tale that touched the hearts of millions of viewers.

Wallenberg as a television series

In the first half of 2010, both Wallenberg and the above-mentioned Jan Karski were the subjects of ‘commemorative years’, during which their wartime contributions were respectively linked to modern Swedish and Polish foreign and refugee policies. Even before this, there had been similarities with regard to interest in these two prominent figures. Karski, who lived in exile in the United States for many years, had already attracted considerable attention there and in Canada during the Second World War for his Story of a Secret State, published in 1944. In the decades that followed, however, his efforts to raise awareness of the Holocaust received scant attention. They came in for renewed interest in the 1980s, though. That was partly because Elie Wiesel drew attention to Karski’s efforts, but even more influential was the Pole’s participation in Claude Lanzmann’s documentary Shoah (1985).70 Similarly, there is an obvious link between the media attention paid to Wallenberg and the public’s interest in him. This has been evident in Sweden ever since the 1960s, albeit on an initially rather modest scale. One illustrative example is the historian Hans Villius, who began to take an interest in Wallenberg after leaving academia to work for Swedish broadcasting. One of his first television programmes was about the missing Swede. Together with his wife, Elsa, Villius again focused on Wallenberg – in book form in 1966, and then again in television programmes in the 1990s.71

Generally speaking, the media coverage intensified in connection with major articles about Wallenberg or screenings of documentary films and television programmes about his fate. Such attention in turn led to articles about his actions in Budapest and about the UD’s handling of the case, as well as to descriptions of the Soviet prison and camp system.72 Besides, newspaper or magazine reports and television programmes encouraged people throughout the Western world, who were fascinated by Wallenberg’s story, to contact Swedish politicians and diplomats. Another result was that new witnesses came forward.73 It was also significant that diplomats found themselves working in partly new circumstances. Citing the example of British foreign policy, Yoel Cohen has observed that the practice of diplomacy changed as the supply of information increased. Since the 1970s, the media and diplomacy have interacted in many different ways. One result is a challenge to the belief that diplomacy can and should take place in secrecy. Cohen argues that through their coverage, the media help to shape foreign policy by influencing both decision-makers and the population they represent in a democracy.74

Historical novels set in wartime Budapest, as well as films and television programmes – especially documentaries – about Wallenberg, were regularly read and watched by politicians and diplomats, who analysed and commented on them.75 In addition, UD staff around the world had to get used to the fact that both documentary and feature films about Raoul Wallenberg aroused a large response. The staff of the Swedish embassy in a country where a Wallenberg programme was shown almost always received spontaneous reactions from the public after the broadcast. Swedish embassy staff around the world soon began ordering information leaflets and folders about Wallenberg in order to satisfy people’s curiosity about the Swede’s achievements.76 In 1987, one of the most widely circulated publications in the series ‘UD informerar’ was published on the theme of Raoul Wallenberg. The 50-page report, complemented with documents and photographs, dealt with the man, his deeds, his disappearance, and the search for him. The text was translated into English as soon as possible.77 No wonder Holocaust was cited as an important factor when, in the mid-1980s, the UD was briefing its staff on the status of the Wallenberg case in the United States.78 Holocaust also sparked a number of further television series about the Second World War and/or the Holocaust, such as Playing for Time (1980) and Winds of War (1983).79

Fifteen years before Holocaust’s triumphal march across the West there had been plans for a feature film about Raoul Wallenberg, directed by Arne Mattsson and – it was hoped – with Max von Sydow in the leading role. The intention to make it a co-production between the Swedish film company Sandrews and a Communist film group in Budapest raised eyebrows, as did the uncertainty about how the film would end. Another obstacle was that Wallenberg’s mother did not give her permission. Nor did Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Torsten Nilsson, who was upset at claims he had been in favour of the project at an early stage.80

As mentioned earlier, the situation in the United States in the early 1980s was different. Events honouring Wallenberg in Los Angeles at that time were attended by a number of film stars. In addition, representatives of the film and television industry showed interest in Annette Lantos’s request for a Wallenberg story presented on the large or small screen, despite the failure of the first four attempts, including a proposed feature film starring the Swedish actors Per Mattsson and Max von Sydow. Another suggestion for a future Wallenberg film was well received at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival, but it also fell through.81 A third plan focused on Jon Voight, who was contracted to play the role of the Swedish diplomat in a film based on John Bierman’s then newly published book Righteous Gentile: The Story of Raoul Wallenberg. Even though the script was ready to go, nothing else happened. One of the main reasons why the Voight production was cancelled was that the film company did not believe the drama would appeal to the all-important teenage audience.82

Such doubts, though, were soon dispelled by several successfully completed projects. In the United States, interest reached a peak in 1985 on the fortieth anniversary of Wallenberg’s disappearance. The American Wallenberg Committee moved to premises near the UN building in New York and launched a new campaign. Music concerts were given in Wallenberg’s honour, streets were named after him, and a special room dedicated to him was set up in the New York Public Library.83 That year also saw the premiere of the four-hour, two-episode NBC and Paramount television series, Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story. It is significant that the first clips from it were shown at a banquet initially intended for an exclusive gathering of 250 people. However, because American interest in Wallenberg was still great, the Sheraton Centre in Manhattan was filled to capacity. By the end of the evening the festively dressed guests, some 40 of whom were people Wallenberg had rescued, had not only watched clips from the series but had also listened to speakers who included Elie Wiesel, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Per Anger, Nina Lagergren, and Henry Kissinger. Unlike in the early 1970s, no sensitive US-Soviet negotiations were at stake. Accordingly, the former US Secretary of State spoke at length about Wallenberg as a man who went beyond the conventions of diplomacy in an exemplary way in order to save human lives, with the result that he ‘will serve as an example for our period’. The many tributes were not just empty words. Before the evening was over, the dinner guests had donated half a million dollars to a study centre about the Swede at the New York Public Library.84

Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story was filmed in 1984 in Stockholm as well as in Zagreb in what was then Yugoslavia, because the television company was not permitted to film in Hungary. The series was released in the United States in early April 1985 but Swedish viewers had to wait until October of that year. The director was Lamont Johnson, who had spent a long career in television working mainly on docudramas based on historical events. The script was written by Gerald Green, who had had great success with his screenplay for Holocaust, which he had also adapted into a best-selling novel.85 The lead role was played by Richard Chamberlain, who had made his breakthrough in 1961 as Dr Kildare in the television series of the same name and who had appeared in several films in the 1960s and 1970s. By 1980 he had become the uncrowned king of epic television series, ‘the Robert Redford of the living room’, with hits such as Centennial (1978–1979), Shogun (1980), and The Thorn Birds (1983) to his credit.86 Physically he did not look much like Wallenberg, but the producers presumably hoped that viewers would reach the same conclusion as Tibor Vayda, who had escaped the Arrow Cross terror regime in 1944 thanks to Wallenberg. He noted that Chamberlain ‘had the same kind of presence and sympathy’ as the heroic Swede.87 Other actors included the internationally well-known Swedes Lena Olin and Bibi Andersson, the latter in the role of Maj von Dardel. Per Anger contributed as the narrator.88

The narrative structure of Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story resembled the very successful structure used for Holocaust and before that for Roots, ABC’s drama about slavery in the United States. The latter had been a hit in 1977 and had thereby paved the way for television series in historical settings. The television companies’ recipe for success was to focus on a few real and/or fictional individuals for whom the audience would feel sympathy or antipathy. These characters’ fates were then used to illustrate the ‘grand narrative’. This method was particularly obvious in the hero’s story in the television drama. Mostly for dramaturgical reasons, many of the people who had helped Wallenberg in Budapest, or done similar work there, were excluded or had to settle for a peripheral role.89 Still, the focus on Wallenberg did not preclude brief appearances in the television series by representatives of the Hungarian Resistance and other role models in the diplomatic corps, such as Carl Lutz.

Historical and poetic truths

In addition to the patent relevance of Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story to the present book, both the structure of the series and the reactions to it illustrate a long-standing conflict associated with the contradiction between the historical and the practical past. On the one side are advocates of historical truth and objectivist ideals, who argue that the requirements of historical scholarship must also be applied to historical products that possess clear fictional elements. The argument is that there is a link between historical reality and its representation, with the implication that all history conveyed in a moving-image format should be presented in manner similar to written academic texts. The core of this approach is the (fault)finding of discrepancies between the results presented by historians and deviations from these in films or television series. Proponents of this view may indeed acknowledge the importance of such films as Holocaust and Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story, but with one caveat: they were ‘important, if flawed, vehicles for educating the … public’.90

On the other side stand the advocates of poetic truth. They stress that the story must indeed be true, but on the basis of different criteria. The design of the dramaturgy is of the utmost importance, and there should be a narrative structure with a clear beginning, middle, and end. The result is a distillation of historical events. Similarly, the choice of actors, the consideration given to traditional genre elements, and adaptation to the attitudes and fashions prevailing at the time of filming are more important than the types of complex and multivalent analyses of the past that form the hallmark of historical scholarship. Simplifications, a reduced number of actors, and romantic elements characterize many historical television and film productions, all with the aim of getting the audience to become involved in the drama and to experience the actors as believable in their roles. With such a method, what appears to be a historical inaccuracy can in fact be a deliberate anachronism inserted to clarify the plot, or as a nod to a sophisticated audience. In other words, emotional credibility trumps historical realism because creators of film and television dramas strive to appeal to the audience’s ‘melodramatic imagination’. If the result is successful, the viewers of the film or television programme consider it to be more credible than other historical representations, mainly because this type of presentation of the past is directly linked to events and values of their own time. This approach has traditionally dominated among representatives of the film and television industry, although it has not prevented them from stressing that various dramas are ‘based on’ or ‘inspired by’ actual historical events.91

It should be emphasized that the division between historical and poetic truth is not always easy to maintain. Just over a year after the end of the war, the Hungarian Jew Miklós Nyiszli published his testimony from Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he had performed autopsies on the bodies of twins on whom German doctors had carried out brutal experiments. Right up until today his book has been considered highly credible, but it has also provoked debate because of his ambivalent portrayal of Josef Mengele, the ‘Angel of Death’, who was one of the main perpetrators of the medical ‘research’ which cost the lives of thousands of camp inmates. Moreover, in the light of recent decades of research on Auschwitz-Birkenau, a number of observations in Nyiszli’s eyewitness account have been justifiably called into question. This revelation of some inaccuracies has not prevented Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account from being an important source of inspiration for the American and Hungarian feature films The Grey Zone (2001) and Son of Saul (2015) respectively.92 The fact that we still have limited knowledge about the prisoners who were in the so-called Sonderkommando, and who were forced to perform some of the worst tasks in the death camp, is a separate issue. Viewers of these harrowing films are forced to grapple with fundamental existential and moral questions rather than trying to determine what is true, false, or not yet verified. In this way, the viewer is invited to struggle with very difficult issues which have rarely been accorded any significant space in traditional historiography.93

A more problematic encounter between historical and poetic truth characterizes Atlantic Crossing (2020). Produced for an international audience, this Norwegian television series focuses on the wartime exile of the Norwegian Crown Princess Märta in the United States. Contributing to the controversy created by the series was the suggestion of a romantic relationship between her and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, as well as several scenes in which the Crown Princess was said to have inspired a number of his important policy decisions, including the Lend-Lease Act, which allowed US exports of war materiel without departing from the country’s neutrality that prevailed until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. The lead actress Sofia Helin defended the series, arguing that at least since Shakespeare’s day, history had been drawn with the aid of poetic truth. She added that in this particular case, suspicion of this kind of liberal treatment of the historical facts was complemented by a critical gender aspect: it was mainly men who objected to the portrayal of a strong and independent woman.94

To some extent the Norwegian historian Trond Norén Isaksen, who wrote a book about Crown Princess Märta’s exile in the United States, agreed with the latter criticism. Earlier commentators had found it difficult to acknowledge the Crown Princess’s important diplomatic role. Isaksen also distanced himself from critics who failed to take account of the differences between writing scholarly history and filming a fictional drama. The most serious flaw with the television series, he said, was not that the romance rumours were based solely on contemporary gossip aimed at damaging the President. What was worse was the fact that the series departed significantly from

the historical truth, while its creators were sending a contradictory message by insisting on the one hand that the series was fiction and on the other that it was based on six years of research, and that in any case parts of what the viewers got to see were true.95 

For filmmakers, poetic truth has mostly trumped historical truth, but since the last decades of the twentieth century, manifestations of ‘retrovision’ have characterized much historical representation in film and television. Using ‘retrovision’ as a starting point, there has been a willingness on the part of filmmakers to ‘demythologise the past, gazing back sometimes with horror at its violence and oppression … and sometimes with nostalgia for lost innocence and style’.96 Such films, combined with changing ideals of scholarship among professional historians, have helped to make the divide less clear-cut. Much evidence suggests that in the West in the twenty-first century, the opposing positions of the advocates of historical and poetic truth have become less uncompromising as well as less frequent. However, their survival has been aided by lingering knee-jerk reactions from historians who find it difficult to perceive the value of poetic realism, combined with recurring promises from film and television producers that audiences will be given historical realism and authenticity when in fact the shows’ main determinants are found in other motives, and these contradictions have helped to keep these opposing positions in existence.97 They were very much alive when Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story was broadcast throughout the Western world in 1985.

Making a difference

As the screenwriter Gerald Green pointed out in an interview, one important difference between Holocaust and Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story was that while the former series portrayed fictional characters set within actual historical events, Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story was based on a real person, and the story about him was true. Green also discussed the boundaries between historical and poetic truths. For reasons of space, he had been forced to exclude dramatic events, such as when Wallenberg, in a rowboat, searched for possible survivors of a massacre in the icy Danube River. Green conceded that he had sometimes been forced to deviate from the historical sequence of events in order to make the television drama work. In his defence, he argued that writers have been combining real people with fictional ones ever since the days of Homer. Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story deviated from this pattern in that all the characters were based on people in real life. Green was therefore very confident ahead of the television screening, and he was not particularly anxious that experts in the field would be able to accuse him of any crucial inaccuracies.98

One contributing reason for the great impact of television series like Holocaust and Roots was their scope. Their large number of episodes made it possible to gradually and slowly accustom viewers to the horrors that these history lessons illustrated with moving images.99 The link between actual historical facts and the educational aspect was of great importance for the success of these series. It was hoped that the Wallenberg series would attract the attention of teachers, many of whom had been spurred on by Roots and Holocaust to include the topics of slavery and the Holocaust in their history classes. A series about Wallenberg might similarly pave the way for lessons about him and his achievements. If this happened, children would be likely to watch Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story with their parents, guaranteeing large audiences. The series was watched in an estimated 17 million American homes, with an average of three viewers per household, totalling about 40 million viewers. Thus, a significant number of Americans did follow Wallenberg’s fate, but they were far from the 120 million or so who had watched Holocaust in 1978.100

The narrative begins in Sweden, where Raoul Wallenberg is celebrating Midsummer with his relatives. His frustration at sitting on the sidelines while the war is happening around him is palpable. He therefore does not hesitate when he is asked if he would carry out a mission in Hungary to save as many of that country’s Jews as possible from the Holocaust. The rest of the story unfolds in Hungary until his disappearance in January 1945.

One scene that was crucial in making viewers understand the hero’s great commitment to the cause of the oppressed occurs before Wallenberg begins his mission in Budapest. Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story draws on a recurring pattern in films and television series: the hero’s awakening when he is confronted with the concrete effects of the Holocaust. Viewers of The Eagle Has Landed (1976) come to sympathize with German Colonel Kurt Steiner (Michael Caine) as he risks his life and career in an attempt to help a Jewish woman. Steiner helps her to escape from a train, presumably destined for an extermination camp, but to no avail as she is shot dead by SS guards. The Colonel then demonstratively distances himself from the guards and their commander, which condemns him and his subordinates to the risky mission of trying to assassinate Winston Churchill.101

Another well-known example is how a German (actually a Sudeten German) moves from cooperating with the SS, more or less unthinkingly, to following his conscience and trying to save as many Jews as possible. The beginning of Oskar Schindler’s (Liam Neeson) transformation in Schindler’s List is the key scene when he witnesses German troops brutally emptying the Kraków ghetto of Jews. In Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story and Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg (1990), good Germans are mostly conspicuously absent, but in both cases the hero’s awakening takes place at a railway station. It is when Wallenberg sees trains packed with Jews heading for the extermination camps, and how Jews trying to escape are mercilessly gunned down by German guards, that he fully realizes what is happening.

The strong link between the Holocaust and train transports is present in popular-culture depictions of Adolf Eichmann as well.102 A scene involving trains is also the setting where the tension in Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story reaches its climax. The first part of the drama culminates in a cliffhanger. Witness accounts of how Wallenberg acted at the Józsefváros railway yard differ: some accounts stress that many of the Jewish employees of the Swedish Legation handed out protective passports to people in the railway carriages, whereas others maintain that it was Wallenberg himself who did most of the work. According to the latter narrative, he also managed to rescue people who lacked protective passports without the Hungarian gendarmes daring to intervene.103 The television team picked up a dramatic story told by Sandor Ardai, one of Wallenberg’s drivers in Budapest. Ardai said that Wallenberg had not only entered the railway carriages but had also jumped up onto one of them, a carriage which was filled with Jews, and tossed in protective passports to the passengers. The situation had become very threatening, because Wallenberg ignored German officers’ orders to climb down from the railway-carriage roof while German guards and Arrow Cross men were simultaneously shouting at him and shooting over his head.104 The cliffhanger ending of the first episode constitutes an adaptation of Ardai’s story where German guards have Wallenberg in their rifle sights without him showing any sign of giving in. Viewers are left with the suggestion that he is prepared to die to save lives. The next episode begins with this crisis being averted.

Wallenberg and the Baroness

There is evidence that Wallenberg met the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Baron Gabor Kemény on at least two occasions, including when the latter harboured hopes that the Swedish diplomat would convey a more presentable depiction of the new Arrow Cross-led Hungarian government to his superiors in Stockholm. Wallenberg also collaborated with the Foreign Minister’s beautiful and wealthy wife, Elisabeth Kemény-Fuchs, who was the daughter of an Austrian baron and an Italian countess. Elisabeth had led a sheltered life, but she had also been brought up in a spirit of internationalism, whereas her husband was a convinced antisemite, mainly focused on the Hungarian fatherland. It has subsequently been claimed that the Baroness only became aware of her husband’s antisemitic beliefs after their marriage. Her new-found insight, combined with witnessing the persecution of Jews, led her to cooperate with Wallenberg, with the goal of influencing her husband and other Arrow Cross members to stop the ongoing mass murder.105 When Gabor Kemény defended himself at the People’s Tribunal in Budapest in 1946, he pointed to his meetings with Wallenberg and how they had worked together to save Jews. However, there were far more charges against him, and so he was sentenced to death and hanged.106

It has been argued that the Baroness ‘appears to have [played] a decisive role in a critical situation for Wallenberg’.107 A similar conclusion is drawn in Frederick E. Werbell and Thurston Clarke’s Lost Hero (1982), in which they examine his contacts with the Keménys. Of particular significance are the Baroness’s efforts – combined with those of Wallenberg and others – to try to influence her husband and other Arrow Cross members to stop the mass murder of Jews.108 Werbell and Clarke emphasize that concrete negotiations on the issue did occur. They also relate that when the Baroness left Budapest, several diplomats came to the railway station to bid her farewell. Among them was Wallenberg, carrying a bouquet of flowers. The authors write that the Baroness and Wallenberg became ‘very attached to each other’ during the month or so that they worked together. Werbell and Clarke say that it is not clear whether the two became romantically involved, but they do cite a second-hand witness according to whom they had ‘become very, very close’.109

In his original script Gerald Green had kept the friendship on a purely platonic level, but it became more intense after being reworked by the producers, who reasoned that the rules of the game are different in commercial television series and films set in historical contexts. In such films and series, a love theme is practically a requirement, and the producers’ solution was to ‘upgrade’ the friendship to a romance. They seized on the book publisher’s invitation to perceive a degree of truth in the rumours that the Swedish diplomat and the beautiful baroness had powerful feelings for each other. The resulting depiction was of a budding romance, including a tearful and flower-filled farewell in a railway carriage when they meet for the last time as Elisabeth leaves Budapest. Green felt no bitterness at the alteration to his script, as the audience needed a counterweight to the Holocaust. He emphasized that Wallenberg had indeed given the Baroness roses when she left Budapest.110

This invented romance was one reason why the creators’ assertion that their series kept essentially close to the truth was challenged, and this in turn led to defensive arguments. Lamont Johnson – who characterized Baron Kemény as ‘charming, romantic and [a] fascist’ and his wife as a delightful woman – said before the premiere that as part of his research he had visited Elisabeth Kemény-Fuchs in France, implying that he did so to obtain her true version of events.111 Green admitted that although the series was true to historical facts, one element was ‘somewhat fanciful’. He was aware that it was highly unlikely that Raoul Wallenberg and Elisabeth Kemény-Fuchs had a relationship that extended beyond friendship, not least because the Baroness was well known to be attached to her husband and was six months pregnant when she met the Swedish diplomat for the first time.112

With a touch of humour, the real-life female protagonist asserted that in her youth she had been more beautiful than the admittedly pretty actress Alice Krige, who portrayed her in the series. Her amusement was less evident when she commented on the liberties she felt the television producers had taken. Like many other women in the diplomatic colony she had been attracted by Wallenberg’s charm, courage, and gentlemanliness, but she firmly denied the rumours of a romance. In fact, she had initially considered suing the broadcaster, but for unspecified reasons she had decided against it.113

Wallenberg versus Eichmann

Although this romance is significant in relation to the requirements of the genre, and hence to the design of the television series, it cannot compete in importance with the duel between Raoul Wallenberg and Adolf Eichmann. Overall, their on-screen struggle fits into long-established narrative patterns and rhetorical devices. The Lithuanian historian Linas Eriksonas argues that all narratives, whether fictional or scholarly, are distinguished by the fact that they always require a hero and an antagonist.114 That the encounter between these two strong personalities forms a climax in Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story was already emphasized in the press material distributed before the premiere. The two men were destined to confront each other: ‘Wallenberg and Eichmann … must finally meet’, reads the doom-laden text.115 The dramatic climax which the meeting between the diplomat and the SS officer entailed was duly praised by a number of critics.116 That the television series includes a confrontation between Wallenberg and Eichmann is as unsurprising as the above-mentioned suggested romance between Wallenberg and Elisabeth Kemény. I shall return later to the significance of the dinner party at which the two adversaries measure their strength against each other. For the moment, we may conclude that the scene was included not only for dramaturgical reasons, but also as a result of the history-cultural shifts that led to Eichmann and Wallenberg becoming household names in the post-war period.

Whereas it took until around 1980 for Wallenberg to become internationally known, Eichmann achieved notoriety because of his trial in 1961. He had previously been named during the Nuremberg trials as one of the driving forces behind the Holocaust. His role in determining Nazi policies during the Second World War was limited, but as an organizer his importance cannot be overestimated.117 Although he never advanced beyond a rank corresponding to that of lieutenant-colonel, the trial in Jerusalem made him one of the best-known Nazis, with the step-by-step revelation of his role as a planner of the genocide. This also meant that equally ruthless ‘desk murderers’, such as Edmund Veesenmayer, who helped to organize the extermination of Croatian and Serbian Jews in the Balkans in 1941–1944 and who worked closely with Eichmann in Budapest, were once and for all overshadowed by him. Veesenmayer, who was tried in the so-called Ministries Trial, also known as the Wilhelmstrasse Trial, in Nuremberg in 1949, was sentenced to twenty years in prison but only served two.

The Eichmann trial was covered by the media in a number of Western countries, and it brought renewed attention to the Holocaust in newspapers and on radio and television.118 While many of these reports had a limited lifespan, philosopher Hannah Arendt’s reports from the trial remained controversial for a long time after it had ended. Criticized for downplaying the role of antisemitism in the implementation of the Holocaust, she won support for another facet of her coverage: Arendt argued that Eichmann was not a diabolical killer; instead, he had been a passive cog in the Holocaust machinery – just one desk murderer among many.119

One contemporaneous analysis was based on the assertion that Eichmann could not stand ‘the smell of blood’ but found pleasure in ‘adding up the numbers of the dead and … monitoring the transports from all the occupied areas to the death camps’.120 Such perspectives may be complemented with British historian David Cesarani’s debunking of earlier perceptions of Eichmann’s time in Budapest as a ‘high point’ in his career, because he supposedly enjoyed unfettered powers there. The unit he commanded was in fact only one of several SS units in the Hungarian capital, and they worked against one another on a regular basis. Eichmann’s ‘success’ in exterminating Budapest’s Jews was mainly due to the strong support he received from Hungarian gendarmes, from high-ranking politicians who were also antisemites, and from Arrow Cross members, whose political influence increased during 1944. His efforts, however, were not appreciated by Himmler, who sometimes advocated a continuation of the genocide and sometimes wished to use the Jews of Hungary as part of attempts to achieve a separate peace with the Western Allies. As the realization grew among senior SS officers that it was only a matter of months before Germany would be brought to its knees, a rift developed between on the one hand Himmler, Walter Schellenberg, and Kurt Becher, who had been sent to Budapest by the head of the SS, and on the other the individuals who wanted to continue the mass murder of Jews. Those individuals were primarily led by Ernst Kaltenbrunner, who commanded the Gestapo and the SD, the intelligence agency of the SS and the Nazi Party, and was deeply involved in implementing the Holocaust. Eichmann sympathized with the latter approach and therefore continued to push for the Jews in Hungary to be sent to extermination camps or forced on death marches. Eichmann, who was heavily intoxicated and acted erratically at the end of his time in Budapest, came into conflict with Becher, who opposed further deportations of Jews. Both were summoned to a meeting in Berlin with the head of the SS. What was said at that meeting is a matter of debate, but it is highly likely that Eichmann was reprimanded, and he was not highly regarded by Himmler in the following months either.121

In the autumn of 1958, legal proceedings against Erich Koch began in Warsaw. Before the war, he had made a name for himself in Nazi Germany as an expert on Eastern Europe, and during the war he had held high-ranking command positions over areas in Poland, Ukraine, and the Baltic states. In these capacities, he had been responsible for the deportation and mass murder of Jews and Poles. Put on trial, he varied his defence. At times he denied having committed crimes, at others he claimed he was only obeying orders, and all the time he referred to his severe lung disease, which had weakened him, although this did not prevent him from posing sharp questions and making long, meandering statements.122 This pattern was largely repeated during the Eichmann trial a few years later. Hannah Arendt struggled to reconcile two images. On the one hand, a long line of witnesses described heinous crimes for which Eichmann was responsible. On the other hand, like the accused and ailing Koch, Eichmann was not at all the same man that he had been during the war years. The court did not comply with Simon Wiesenthal’s suggestion that Eichmann be allowed to appear in the SS uniform so intimately associated with his atrocities. Instead, it was a pitiful man with a constant cold who sat wearing an ordinary suit on the accused’s bench in a glass cage built especially for the trial. The only way Arendt could come to terms with this dilemma was to regard the SS officer as a textbook example of the banality of evil.123

This concept has become a commonplace in the wake of the Eichmann trial. It has also found its way into the film and television industry, though not without attendant problems. How can one of history’s worst criminals, who is outwardly an ordinary and anything but cinematically charismatic bureaucrat with digestive problems, be represented in an interesting and dramatically effective manner? A recurring compromise has been a split between portrayals of the post-war Eichmann who was captured and put on trial and portrayals of the officer who had hundreds of thousands of lives on his conscience. The audience is thus confronted with a contrast between Eichmann’s post-war ordinariness and images of a confident, ruthless, and power-hungry upwardly aspiring individual, who experienced the high point of his life while Budapest was literally collapsing around him.124

The historical Eichmann has repeatedly been a source of inspiration in films and television series, Inglourious Basterds (2009) being a well-known example. Unlike in the film with the almost identical title in the United States, The Inglorious Bastards (Quel maledetto treno blindato, 1978), the Holocaust is central in Quentin Tarantino’s later version. In the Italian ‘original’, violent acts against Germans are generally legitimized by the atrocities they committed during the Second World War. In the later version, by contrast, the Nazi genocide of ‘subhumans’ is at the core of the film, and it is the implicit reason why American Jews and German anti-Nazis pursue a cruel revenge on German soldiers in France. The Holocaust is introduced as early as the opening scene, when a French farmer is forced to reveal where he has hidden Jews. The man who demands this information is SS officer Hans Landa, played by the Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, who won an Oscar for best supporting male actor. In Waltz’s interpretation, Landa is akin to Eichmann in that he lays the groundwork for his interrogation breakthrough with arguments about duty and precise statistics. From underneath the bureaucratic and superficially benevolent SS officer, however, a very different person soon emerges. Apart from smoking an absurdly large pipe and not shying away from ordering the execution of defenceless people, he also turns out to be well educated and a good linguist, but above all an unscrupulous, manipulative, and ruthless ‘Jew hunter’. His lightning-quick transitions between charm and polite friendliness on the one hand and cunning and ruthless brutality on the other have more in common with the kind of film Nazis whose origins go back to the propagandistic feature films of the Second World War than with the Eichmann depicted by Arendt: a ‘paper-pusher’ in the form of a zealous but colourless bureaucrat.125

In the television series Holocaust, the SS member Erik Dorf (Michael Moriarty) is based on a number of people, including the SS officer Otto Ohlendorf, who ordered the execution of 90,000 Jews, and Adolf Eichmann. The latter also appears as a character in the series, initially as a mentor to Dorf. In Holocaust the aim was to use Dorf as an example of a ‘desk perpetrator’, a genocidal killer who was also a loving family man leading a ‘normal’ life alongside his murderous activities. Ohlendorf in particular was an apt example. Outwardly he was a far cry from his SS colleague Ernst Kaltenbrunner, who, with his fencing scar and hatchet-faced profile, fitted the stereotypical image of a cold-blooded mass murderer. The contrast was striking when Ohlendorf spoke: he ‘was small of stature, young-looking, and rather comely. He spoke quietly, with great precision, dispassion, and apparent intelligence.’ The question that begged to be answered was how he could have committed the atrocities he described so detachedly and analytically. One person who saw him testify at the Nuremberg trials described him as ‘ice-cold’; another perceived him as a Nazi version of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.126 The difficulty of dealing with the ambiguity displayed by Ohlendorf led one US psychiatrist to categorize him as a perverted sadist and madman, whereas one of his compatriots and colleagues instead marvelled at how a man ‘of such integrity and incorruptibility could have commanded an Einsatzgruppe’.127

In Holocaust, the fictional character Dorf personified both Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, but the latter’s acts of madness were replaced by murders carried out at a distance. The Ohlendorf-inspired SS officer filled the role of a person who was capable of behaving like Eichmann, but who was not in fact the infamous mass murderer. The creators of the series argued that it was unlikely that their audience would feel any sympathy for Eichmann in the role of husband and father. By contrast, Dorf could evoke sympathy, though with obvious limitations.128 This characterization was far ahead of its time. To be sure, this type of ‘desk killer’ did appear in research into the Holocaust, but this was the first time such a person had been portrayed in a fictional narrative with broad impact.129 That the character lacked predecessors proved not to be a problem. Swedish film scholar Erik Hedling argues that this sharply defined but still believable portrayal of Dorf and some of the other architects of the Holocaust, beyond ‘traditional and grotesque film monsters’, formed a significant contribution to the success of the series.130

Hedling’s American colleague Annette Insdorf has noted that the use of the same actors in similar roles is an effective technique by film and television makers, but that it also raises the question of the role of authenticity in film and television productions. The danger is that audiences will associate historical figures with well-known television and film faces rather than with those actual historical figures whom the actors represent.131 In 1985, British actor Kenneth Colley was best known as an admiral in the Imperial Navy space fleet in the Star Wars films. A few years later he portrayed Paul Blobel, an SS officer who, like Eichmann, had many lives on his conscience, in another successful television series: War and Remembrance (1988). Viewers acquainted with Colley’s previous acting roles were less than surprised to find him playing the role of Eichmann in Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story. The Eichmann portrayed in this series is a good example of ‘the cinematic Nazi’ character, a personage who is usually ‘simply presented as evil’ and depicted in such a manner that the audience is not encouraged to identify with him or her.132 It is highly likely that the creators of the Wallenberg series drew on the image Eichmann presented of himself in post-war exile in Argentina, when he was not interested in appearing as a grey bureaucrat, and on the accounts of witnesses who supplied their own picture of the SS officer. At his trial in Jerusalem in 1961, witnesses described how he could appear sympathetic in meetings with Jewish leaders, but only up to a point. When his wishes were not granted, his politeness swiftly turned to threats and contemptuous outbursts.133 In Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story, Eichmann as portrayed by Colley first appears in a scene in which he alternately threatens and praises the leaders of Budapest’s Jewish Council. Nothing bad will happen to them if they will just provide him with Jewish workers, he promises. But his true self emerges only a few moments later. As he leaves the room, he learns that the Hungarian regent Miklós Horthy has halted a train to Auschwitz with a record number of Jews on board. As the ominous music reaches its climax, a furious Eichmann shouts: ‘We refuse to be stopped! We will keep on going until we have weeded out every damned Jew in Hungary!’

During Eichmann’s trial, it was suggested that he had been an upstart, lacking in both common sense and good manners and that he had remained that way. From a West German perspective it was easy to attribute a ‘Koofmichs-Mentalität’ to him.134 The first word’s affinity with a minor ‘Kaufmann’, or merchant, had long invited the description of Koofmichs as hedonistic individuals willing to do anything to satisfy their desire for gold and material objects. In a similar vein, one of the journalists who studied Eichmann during his trial in Jerusalem in 1961 suggested that his stiff bow to the judge showed that he had never learned how to behave in ‘better-class society’. Even his use of language gave him away: he was a half-educated man trying to appear cultured.135 Subsequent portrayals of him have repeatedly included his complaints that he did not receive the appreciation he deserved during the war years, but also his lack of higher education and his brutal image. Another common element has been his hostility to aristocrats and his particular loathing of Admiral Horthy. Yet another frequent theme has been that the war provided great opportunities for ruthless bureaucrats.136 This perspective was pushed to its extreme in Eichmann (2008). In one scene in the film, set in Jerusalem during the pre-trial interviews, Eichmann brags to the Israeli lead interrogator about all the beautiful women, thoroughbred horses, and top-quality liquor that he, a simple man, was able to enjoy during the Second World War, thanks to his position of power in the Third Reich.

People close to Wallenberg described him as an ‘anti-snob’, as evidenced by the fact that despite his privileged position he did not want to be given any advantages because of his origins, and that in the United States he had sometimes hitchhiked in order to come to know people he would never otherwise have met.137 Quite a radically different picture appears in a number of British and American biographies and articles about Wallenberg. These state that he was not only a member of an aristocracy in the figurative sense – a financial aristocracy – but also claimed that he was of noble birth, which is a common characteristic of many heroic figures.138 That he was part of the Wallenberg family probably had a concrete significance at that time. In the early 1960s, Alva Myrdal claimed off the record that it would have been impossible for her or others close to her to carry out the mission in Budapest. The reason was not that they lacked the necessary personal qualities, but that they were all too left-wing. By contrast, Raoul Wallenberg had been suitable owing to his high social position.139

The producer of Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story was the seasoned Dick Berg, one of the pioneers of made-for-TV films and series. He drew on the idea of Wallenberg’s ‘aristocratic’ origins and their significance when he argued that until Budapest, Wallenberg’s life had been meaningless. He had mostly been a burden to his family, Sweden’s equivalent of the Rockefeller dynasty. In the Hungarian capital, though, everything had fallen into place. Despite moments of despair, he was a humorous and hope-inducing man who had found the meaning of his own life in saving that of others.140 This characterization was manifested in the finished production, above all in the contrast between Eichmann’s brusque manner and Wallenberg’s well-bred gentlemanly character. A similar sequence opens the already mentioned book by Frederick E. Werbell and Thurston Clarke, Lost Hero: The Mystery of Raoul Wallenberg, which, in the words of the authors, focused on Wallenberg the man and which therefore contains a lot of dialogue and a straightforward storyline.141 This structure was perfect for fictionalization, and it was on this book that Green mainly based his script.142 The encounter between Eichmann and Wallenberg also appears in an expanded and more streamlined version in Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story. In the ‘Arizona’ nightclub, Eichmann offers Wallenberg and Per Anger champagne. At first they chat politely, but Eichmann’s poorly concealed motives lead the Swedish diplomats to conclude that some Germans seem more interested in wiping out the Jews and profiting from that bloody business than in fighting the war. Eichmann in turn comments sharply that aristocrats like Wallenberg can change professions as they like and engage in diplomacy whenever they fancy doing so. The dialogue’s implicit message is that Eichmann has only borrowed his position at the top of society. Behind his facade of duty and loyal obedience lurks an unscrupulous, unchristian bribe-taker, an ill-mannered upstart who is willing to free a small number of Jews for a large number of dollars. Conversely, the ‘aristocrat’ Wallenberg’s exalted social position is taken as given.143 That impression is reinforced by his aforementioned romance with a Hungarian noblewoman and the fact that – after his decisive awakening when he is confronted with the victims of the Holocaust – he does not change significantly. In this way, he is like the heroes in the novels of old who are constantly challenged and tested but do not evolve.

Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story is thus above all a television series about the great hero and his powerful antagonist. Their struggle can be likened to a moral power struggle between the forces of good and evil, as described in the prologue to the US lawyer Carl L. Steinhouse’s Wallenberg is Here!

Two men of the same generation, dedicated to their respective tasks, but with widely disparate backgrounds, nurturing, environment and education, arrived in Budapest in 1944, fated to be locked in a great historical battle for human lives. The German, Adolph Eichmann, was determined to exterminate the Jews; the Swede, Raoul Wallenberg, was committed to frustrating that goal. The casual observer might reasonably conclude the contest to be one-sided, the German backed by the determined leaders, military might and ruthlessness of the Third Reich, and the Swede supported only by certainty of his moral position, his ingenuity, wits, nerve and diplomatic standing, and American funds. Such a casual observer, however, couldn’t have been more wrong.144

Wallenberg’s struggle is thus morally irreproachable, but in all concrete respects virtually hopeless, which makes his efforts all the more admirable. In such a context, it is not a question of making the television series’ viewers feel any sympathy for Eichmann. On the contrary: portraying a thoroughly evil, ruthless, unscrupulous, and powerful Eichmann makes his opponent’s feats all the greater. That Eichmann is a very dangerous and powerful man is patent in almost every scene he appears in, but it is underlined in his encounters with Wallenberg. It is evident, for instance, when the German visits the Swedish Legation. The Jews working there all have Swedish protective passports, but they are also fully aware of who Eichmann is and what he is capable of. He tries to counteract this by pointing out his great tolerance. Wallenberg receives him politely, but makes fun of him the second he leaves.

We have seen that the demands and needs placed on a functioning fictional product are far from always consistent with the established historical facts. Wallenberg and Eichmann undeniably knew of each other’s existence while they were operating in Budapest. A number of popular accounts state that they met for dinner and negotiations. However, Wallenberg was not interested in haggling with Eichmann, who may have feared that the Swede was well connected with SS men such as Kurt Becher or even perhaps SS chief Heinrich Himmler. The result was that Eichmann threatened Wallenberg, whose car was rammed by a German lorry a short time later. Wallenberg is said to have then gone to Eichmann, who expressed his regret at the accident while not ruling out further assassination attempts. In both cases this information comes from Wallenberg’s associates Lars G:son Berg and Göte Carlsson, but it has not been confirmed by other sources. It is actually highly doubtful whether these meetings even occurred, and if there was a dinner it is more likely that Wallenberg shared it with Becher.145 This has not prevented negotiations between Eichmann and Wallenberg from being retold over and over again in various contexts, from biographies with scholarly ambitions via newspaper articles to literature written for children and young adults, starring the Swedish diplomat.146

Throughout Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story, the Swede’s heroic status is reinforced by the way he deals with the duty-bound Eichmann. The confrontation reaches its dramatic climax at a dinner party, when the Swedish diplomat’s moral superiority is proved once and for all. The contrast is striking between the superficially civilized context of two gentlemen chatting over a glass of brandy and the subject of their conversation. Wallenberg asks how many Jews Eichmann has murdered: is it four, five, or six million? Eichmann replies that whatever the number, it is a praiseworthy achievement. He declares that he will go to his grave proud of his work, having done his duty and cleansed Europe of its Jews.147 In his defiant response, Wallenberg says he will do everything in his power to ensure that his dinner companion goes to meet his maker as soon as possible. He further scoffs that Eichmann is beginning to talk like a soldier for a change. After all, the SS officer’s career has been mostly technical, not to say administrative. Wallenberg adds scornfully that Eichmann is a man who has had to be content with routing trains but who has never fully succeeded in filling the quotas. The SS officer is forced to answer, which further reinforces Wallenberg’s heroic status. As a fearless and effective rescuer, he has helped to ensure that the bureaucrat in a SS uniform has not fully succeeded in completing his ruthless task.

Saving the ghetto

From the end of 1944 onwards, thousands of Jews who escaped the extermination campaign found themselves in Budapest’s ghettos, both the one that came to be known as the small or international ghetto in the 13th district, with almost 40,000 inhabitants, and another ghetto in the 7th district, where nearly 70,000 people were obliged to reside. As we shall see, there are several possible explanations for that. However, ambiguity and alternative sequences of events do not fit well with on-screen historical dramas. The rescue of the ghetto (only one is mentioned) is also an important event in Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story. For the members of the television team, though, it was less interesting to address the competing versions of the relevant sequence of events, but instead crucial to ensure that Raoul Wallenberg was given a decisive role.

It makes sense to start with examining the choices that the series creators – more or less actively – made by relating them to historical accounts of the Budapest ghetto in December 1944 and January 1945. To begin with, the continued fierce German resistance on both the Eastern and Western fronts in the final months of 1944 – as exemplified by the Battle of the Bulge and the defence of Budapest – makes it clear that Hitler was still trying to achieve military success in order to divide the Allies while the Holocaust continued unabated. Given this situation, the fact that most of the Jewish inhabitants of the Budapest ghettos were spared by a decision made on 16 January 1945 has puzzled historians of the war.

Among the individuals who made huge efforts to save the ghetto were Lajos Stöckler and Miksa Domonkos, both of whom were members of the Jewish Council. Still, they were obliged to negotiate as best they could while seeking support from representatives of neutral states.148 A number of scholars have attributed a decisive importance to Domonkos, saying that it was he who persuaded the Germans to protect the ghetto from the Arrow Cross death patrols.149 For the creators of the television series, however, assigning an essential role to the Jewish leaders was not germane to their endeavour; they desired to supplement Wallenberg’s heroic mission with yet another feat: the rescuing of Budapest’s ghetto. That notion might be referred to as poetic licence concerning the truth. Many scholars have expressed doubts, pointing out that by that time Wallenberg was in Soviet captivity. This also means that the long-held contention that Wallenberg saved tens of thousands, perhaps even a hundred thousand, Jewish lives is not correct, as it includes those trapped in the ghetto; that is unlikely, as Wallenberg had no influence whatsoever on the Soviet military leadership, which was by then in control of developments.150

Still others have stressed the decision made by Karl Pfeffer-Wildenbruch, a member of Himmler’s staff and a Waffen SS general, who was badly wounded during the fighting in Budapest but survived and spent ten years in Soviet captivity. He dismissed claims that Wallenberg had persuaded him to continue issuing Schutzbriefe to the ghetto residents in order to protect them from the Arrow Cross, claiming instead that he alone had protected the Jews. He also questioned the possibility that Himmler had ordered the ghetto to be spared in order to facilitate the negotiations for the release of Jews in exchange for money, gold, and diamonds that were underway between Himmler’s emissary, the SS officer Kurt Becher, and the Jewish lawyer Resznő or Rudolf Kasztner, who, in retrospect, has been regarded as either a Nazi accomplice or as a man who was trying to save as many Jews as possible by any means necessary, including trying to trade human lives for money, goods, and military equipment. Kasztner’s defence lawyers stressed that he had certainly negotiated with SS officers, but that was quite different from having collaborated with them.151 In his version, Kasztner claimed that the ghetto had already been saved on 8 December 1944 because he – with Wallenberg’s help – had persuaded Gerhard Schmidhuber to protect the ghetto.152 This explanation has been questioned on good grounds, as most evidence suggests that it was designed to give Becher – with whom Kasztner had been in close contact during the final months that the Germans still controlled Budapest – an alibi at the Nuremberg trial. When Kasztner testified, he firmly maintained that Becher was not guilty of war crimes. On the contrary, Becher had tried to persuade Himmler to stop the mass murder of Jews in Hungary.153

Another individual who has been assigned a key role is Gerhard Schmidhuber. The Major General, who has been wrongly labelled as an SS general in several books, was the commander of the 13th Panzer Division. He was also the supreme commander of the German forces in Hungary during the fighting against the Red Army until he was killed in Budapest on 11 February 1945, just two days before the German forces in the city surrendered to the Soviets. Schmidhuber is said to have feared that Jewish resistance to German troops would escalate if Arrow Cross members were permitted to launch a bloodbath. At the same time, he would have preferred to see the Hungarian antisemites fighting Soviet soldiers rather than massacring men, women, and children.154 In the early 2020s, this scenario became topical again in Hungary, where initiatives to mount a plaque in Budapest in memory of Schmidhuber led to fierce debate.155

The plot of Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story implies that the heroic Wallenberg is by no means able to save the ghetto on his own. In Werbell and Clarke’s book on which the television series was based, the Swedish diplomat is the saviour of the ghetto, because the Soviet soldiers who liberated it encountered thousands of Jews holding Swedish passports. Although the Arrow Cross had been trying to kill Wallenberg for some time, he continued his work, saying that his life was that of a single individual, but that here it was a matter of saving thousands of lives. As the story goes, though, he is unable to monitor the resolution of the ghetto drama, because by then he is being interrogated by Soviet officers. Instead, it is the Hungarian police officer Pál Szalai who – referring to Wallenberg – persuades Schmidhuber to call off the Arrow Cross plans to raid the ghetto.156

Such a scenario would, however, have been inadequate in a television series that uses every available means to highlight Wallenberg’s heroism and his importance as the single most important saviour of Hungary’s Jews. What follows instead is a scene that most closely resembles the description according to which the Swedish diplomat – either at a meeting in mid-January or via a letter – informed Schmidhuber that if he allowed the pogrom to go ahead, he would not be considered a soldier after the war but a war criminal.157 In the television series, the by then exhausted Wallenberg asks Schmidhuber, played by Charles Brauer, to promise him on all he considers holy that the remaining Jews in the Budapest ghetto will be spared – a request honoured by the German officer.

Raoul Wallenberg between fact and fiction: the reception of the television series

The not always straightforward distinction between the actual Second World War and latter-day representations of it was highly topical 40 years after the war ended. A Swedish-produced drama documentary about Jane Horney, a Swede accused of spying, was broadcast concurrently with Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story. Horney was probably executed in January 1945 by members of the Danish Resistance, who assumed she was a German spy. In Denmark, the documentary about her aroused powerful feelings, which led to death threats against several members of the Swedish film crew and the temporary suspension of the broadcast.158

At the same time the US television series Winds of War, based on Herman Wouk’s hit novels, was being broadcast. Whereas the makers of the Jane Horney documentary claimed to be telling a true story, the US series mixed real people and events from the Second World War with invented human stories. The aim was to give the impression of historical authenticity. For example, the climax of the series, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, was filmed on the same date 40 years after it had actually happened. The interplay between fact and fiction was reinforced by ‘what happened next’ articles, in which the actions of the novel’s characters during the Second World War and the Holocaust were presented as if they were the lives of real people.159 In an interview, Jane Seymour – one of the main characters in the sequel, War and Remembrance – stressed the great effort that had gone into creating authenticity. Part of the series had been filmed on location in the camps at Auschwitz. She said that some extras who had been prisoners there during the war years had broken down ‘because they found it all so realistic’. For her, it was only a short step to describing the series as ‘an excellent history lesson’ that showed children the high price humanity had to pay for war and racism.160

The relationship between the Budapest of 1944–1945 and the reproduction of events there 40 years later also shaped the reactions to Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story. The focus lay on the issue of whether the exploits of a real historical hero could – and should – be recast in the form of fiction in order to illustrate something as ‘monumentally horrendous’ as the Holocaust. As with the reception of Holocaust, a conflict existed between the crowd-pleasing effect of a television series and negative criticisms of it.161 Like the public’s reaction to the Weiss story, the response to the Wallenberg narrative was not clear-cut. American critics debated the difficulties of addressing the Nazi genocide in television form, but their conclusions differed. Some were impressed by an engaging narrative about how a heroic few fought against all odds when the agents of evil were both ruthless and many more in number.162 One reviewer found the (overly) obvious conflict between good and evil to be the main problem in television series about the Holocaust in general and in Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story in particular. With a few exceptions, said this critic, the main figures in the narrative were reduced to one-dimensional characters. Ambivalence and complexity were at best hinted at, but they were often completely absent.163

In an otherwise very favourable appraisal, the New York Times television reviewer John J. O’Connor, who was also a pioneer in the field of film-and-history research, criticized the romance between Wallenberg and Baroness Kemény. The main problem was that the love story was only hinted at via meaningful glances and other devices that ‘the producers obviously believe [are] required for [a] mass audience’. On top of this, the historical truth was stretched to the limit, or the people who made the series simply crossed the line.164 Similar views appeared in assessments by Swedish critics. It was certainly good that more Swedes had the opportunity to learn more about what their compatriot had achieved in Budapest, but the producers could have left out the romantic episode. The series would have benefited from the inclusion of other, more dramatic sequences from the real-life Hungarian drama, said critics; instead, everything became ‘rather banal in an American manner’.165 In the same spirit the series was described as ‘deodorized’, mainly because the victims had allegedly become placeholder characters whereas Wallenberg was portrayed more like a film hero than a man of flesh and blood. In short, ‘[r]eality … was sidelined’.166

Swedish reviewers repeatedly pointed out that Americans had a greater need for heroic stories and that these tended to be exaggerated. The Swedish connection to the subject matter nevertheless helped create a sympathetic attitude towards the US television drama. For example, buyers at Swedish Television had purchased the series even before filming began, a measure with few if any precedents.167 In the wake of its screening on Swedish television, a number of critics were inspired by the portrayal of Wallenberg. Feeling pride in being Swedish, they added that ‘it is pleasing that this man is finally being celebrated as the hero he was’.168 In conjunction with a pre-screening at a television trade fair in Monte Carlo in February 1985, at which the audience was only shown clips from the series, one Swedish critic present stated that the Wallenberg-Chamberlain combination was irresistible.169 This opinion was reiterated in conjunction with the screening of Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story. The drama was saved by the fact that Chamberlain worked ‘with small means, without Hollywood stereotypes and exaggerations’ in combination with a realistic depiction of the horrific events of the Holocaust. One of the most approving Swedish reviewers said that this made it possible to overlook the ahistorical flirtation.170 Although it was impossible to ignore the confounding of historical facts with contrived romance and other ‘TV-like cosmetics’, the series did serve its purpose. By focusing on a middle-class family, the Holocaust series had enabled viewers to grasp the Holocaust, whereas Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story showed what ‘a true hero’ had achieved in order to save as many people as possible.171

Per Anger and others who had been with Wallenberg in Budapest were frequently interviewed in connection with the television series, both in newspapers and in the current-affairs television programme broadcast after the final part of Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story. The theme of that programme was the question of whether Wallenberg was still alive. Other coverage before and during the television series dealt with the scale of the Wallenberg rescue efforts, the recent US court ruling that the Soviet Union had violated international law by arresting Wallenberg, and the UD’s handling of the case, focusing on the initial ham-fisted and hesitant approach to the Soviet leaders. A recurring message was that the official Swedish treatment of Wallenberg was anything but heroic, because he had been sacrificed on the altar of realpolitik, i.e. neutrality.172

Per Anger also commented on Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story. He pointed out that the depiction of his and Wallenberg’s actions in Budapest was mostly historically correct but that the reality had been far worse. However, he quite understood that it was not possible to depict the full barbarity of the situation in Budapest at that time, that the producers had taken certain liberties such as including an imaginary ball, and that they had not been able to refrain from the fictional romance between Wallenberg and Baroness Kemény, which had outraged Wallenberg’s relatives. Anger admitted that he had been a little apprehensive prior to the screening he had attended in London with Lamont Johnson and others. When he came out of the cinema, however, he had been calm, because Wallenberg’s achievements had been ‘portrayed in the right way’. Of course there was cause for objections, as some things were ‘rather unreal’ and some of the actors bore little resemblance to their real-life originals. However, the overall impression was good, and he therefore responded to concerned fellow Swedes by saying that the result could have been much worse because it was important to realize that this was ‘a Hollywood product’. Anger also saw the value of experimenting with historical reality on this point, as the fictional love story demonstrated that Wallenberg had possessed strong emotions like any other human being.173

A Swedish Wallenberg film for an international audience

That Hollywood products were not toothless became clear when Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story was shown on Greek television (ERT). Afterwards, criticism was aimed at the fact that the hints at the role played by the Soviet Union had been cut out. The issue became a matter for the UD, which was puzzled by this change. Sweden’s ambassador in Athens questioned why Greece as a NATO member would want to protect Soviet rulers. Officially, it was asserted that the Greek version had been shorter than the original owing to the removal of a résumé. However, things were not quite that simple. According to privately obtained information, the Soviet Embassy had contacted Greek television because Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story was being shown on 7 November, the anniversary of the Russian Revolution. ERT’s management felt that they should meet the Soviet authorities half-way, but they did not want to cut the series itself. Their choice was to fade and black out the screen during the film’s final credits. Whether this information, given ‘confidentially’, was correct was never clarified. A looming diplomatic crisis between Greece and Sweden was averted after Greek promises that the television series was still complete and that a full-length re-run would be broadcast in the near future.174

At about the same time, plans were again launched for a Swedish Wallenberg film aimed at an international audience. The initiators were Kenne Fant, who had personally researched the Wallenberg case, plus Klas Olofsson, who was CEO of the Swedish Film Institute, and the film producer Katinka Faragó. In 1987 Olofsson and Faragó read the proofs of R (1988), Fant’s documentary novel about Wallenberg, and bought the film rights to it. Fant claims in his autobiography Nära bilder [‘Close-up pictures’] that it was his book that formed the basis of the Swedish-Hungarian film Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg, which had the rarely used subtitle in Swedish En passionshistoria från verkligheten [‘A passion story from reality’].175 Faragó paints a different picture. She had originally hoped to bring in Hungarian director István Szabó – known for Mephisto (1981) and Hanussen (1988), both films about men who had come under the Nazi spell – but he was too busy to take on the job of director. Kjell Grede was then asked. He had recently succeeded with a feature film called Hip Hip Hurrah! (1987), a collective biography of the Scandinavian artists who had lived and worked in the village of Skagen in northern Denmark in the last decades of the nineteenth century under the collective name of ‘the Skagen Painters’. Grede hesitated at first, but then accepted the job because he felt that ‘the film needed to be made’. He rejected R as a screenplay, though, and after reading up on the subject he wrote the script himself.176

Because Stellan Skarsgård played the lead role, as he had done in Hip Hip Hurrah!, several writers drew parallels with Grede’s previous film. There was a significant dissimilarity, however. The focus on Wallenberg’s last three weeks in Budapest demanded a different style and approach. ‘In “Hip Hip Hurrah!” I painted so much light that the sorrow became visible. Now I have to paint so much sorrow that the light becomes visible’, he explained during the filming.177 In this process a documentary approach had never been an option, nor had extending the time span to a point in time after Wallenberg’s disappearance. On the contrary, ‘all the questions about Wallenberg’s fate in the Soviet Union [had begun] to transform him into a statue, a pile of dry leaves, a pawn in a political game of hypothesizing and creating saint-like figures.’ In contrast to this stood the goal of portraying Wallenberg the man.178 In Budapest, Skarsgård had personally experienced the memory of the Swedish diplomat away from the grand tributes. Much of the film was shot in the former ghetto, which was still the home of Jews who had lived through the Second World War. The actor described how old ladies invited him for coffee and reached out to touch him because his portrayal of Wallenberg brought back memories for them. Meeting these survivors convinced him that the most important task was ‘to be true to those people and to their lives’.179

Grede’s description of Wallenberg as a complex individual who had dark elements but who was a figure of light worth emulating left its mark on the film, and it was repeatedly commented on. With its dialogue in several languages, Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg was filmed on location in Budapest with the help of Hungarian actors and film workers. The film has some similarities with both Pimpernel Smith and Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story. As pointed out above, the latter includes a key scene that occurs on a railway platform. In a close analysis of a similar scene in Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg, Richard Raskin has noted that there are obvious differences between Leslie Howard’s Pimpernel Smith and Stellan Skarsgård’s Raoul Wallenberg, notably in that the latter never uses disguises or aliases. More interesting, however, are the similarities, especially the ways in which the protagonists relate to their opponents.

The use of bullying and insults, of a constant stream of threats and blame, keeping the adversary on the defensive at every turn and never letting him capture the initiative, the verbal and gestural flourish, the hammering away with an elaborative pretext, the perfect or near perfect timing of efforts coordinated with the confederates, etc.180

In addition, there are a number of similarities between Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story and Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg. The pattern recurs in scenes of the hero’s awakening as he is confronted with the Holocaust, and the sequence of events is much the same. However, it is a very different Wallenberg that Skarsgård portrays. In Chamberlain’s version, Wallenberg energetically accepts the mission in Stockholm and implements it in Budapest in the same style. He strides the stage as a tireless, joking, and defiant figure. In Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg the protagonist more resembles the description repeatedly given in the 1970s by Márton Vörös, who had worked for the Swedish Red Cross in southern Hungary from 1944 to 1945 and was well-disposed towards Sweden. The background was that in December 1944, Wallenberg had only managed to save 300 people from the so-called international labour battalions, whereas 17,000 others had been deported to concentration camps in western Hungary, where most of them died of typhus or were tortured to death by the Arrow Cross. This failure plagued Wallenberg; he appeared haggard and hunched: ‘It was a tired and very sorrowful man who stood before me. I saw that he had not even taken the time to shave, and this accentuated the pallor of his face even more.’181

Skarsgård displays such traits even at an early stage during his meeting with the rabbi in Stockholm. In this version, Wallenberg is a doubter. He does not believe in God, politics, or ideologies. ‘I’m mediocre’, he adds. The fact that he chooses to go ahead anyway may be regarded as an expression of courage, because he confronts his fear both of external threats and of the experience of his own inadequacies.182 For Peter Cohen, who directed the documentaries The Story of Chaim Rumkowski and the Jews of Łódź (1982) and The Architecture of Doom (1989), Skarsgård’s Wallenberg drew attention to an interesting theme in the film: a banality of goodness. The problem, Cohen argued, was that this theme was not followed up but had to take a back seat as naked violence took over.183

The violence of Budapest is undeniably ever-present in Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg, and it leaves its mark on the protagonist. In the Hungarian capital, he shows signs of exhaustion, irritation, inadequacy, and fear. He cannot sleep, and his shoes are too tight. The explanation for his behaviour lies in the fact that arbitrary violence has a more important function and is far more present in Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg than in Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story. While Chamberlain’s Wallenberg stays essentially the same, Skarsgård’s portrait of the Swedish diplomat shows that it was impossible to remain unaffected by the tragic events in Budapest. To become legendary under such conditions – as Wallenberg did – comes at a very heavy price.

When Kjell Grede passed away in December 2017, a recurring conclusion in tributes to him was that Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg was his greatest work.184 This was no after-the-fact construction. True, the focus on the Swedish martyr’s struggle and downfall did not draw huge audiences to the cinemas, but the praise was all the more abundant. Those involved in the Wallenberg case expressed their approval. The film would certainly help to shine the spotlight once again on the ham-fisted Swedish handling of Wallenberg’s disappearance.185 Swedish film critics stressed that it had been a long time since a domestic film had spoken such an internationally viable language while preserving its integrity.186 A few writers and commentators did object to what they regarded as overly apparent literary elements, excessively obvious and crudely drawn scenes, and an inability to capture Wallenberg’s personal development over time. Another objection was that the director had lacked emotional distance from the complex subject, and that this lack of distance had brought sentimental elements into the film. However, most of those who voiced criticism were also careful to highlight the film’s strengths.187

Foreign reviewers generally agreed with the favourable comments.188 Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg was abundantly rewarded at the Swedish Guldbagge (‘Golden Beetle’) Awards gala in 1991. It was named Film of the Year by the Swedish Film Critics Association, came in for a good deal of attention when screened in Hungary, won acclaim at the Berlin International Film Festival, and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. In a self-critical comment, Grede said that he had failed to show that the Holocaust was not just a historical phenomenon, but that variants of it still existed.189 Many people disagreed with this view. Reviewers of the film repeatedly commented that Grede’s audacity in depicting, in a realistic manner, how the vulnerable Wallenberg reveals his weaknesses but still keeps on battling was both more effective and more interesting than the usual cinematic hero portraits. The director had thereby ‘in a very remarkable way [turned] history into the present’, because he poses ‘crucial questions’ to us through his film.190 That, too, was the starting point when the film was shown in schools in subsequent years, not infrequently with Grede himself as introducer and discussion leader.191

The businessman as the role model of a new age

Psychologists Ashton D. Trice and Samuel A. Holland have studied ideals of masculinity on the basis of some 70 American films from the early 1920s to the late 1990s. They conclude that a changing view of masculinity leads to new heroic roles. Until the end of the Second World War, traditional soldier heroes dominated, but then the complex anti-hero emerged. From the 1980s onwards, they perceive a development in which superheroes appear again alongside depictions of the ‘ideal man’ in the role of the dunce.192

This analysis may be usefully applied to Skarsgård’s Wallenberg and the depiction of Oskar Schindler in Schindler’s List. Both Wallenberg and Schindler have a background as businessmen, which is of great importance in these films. Their professional category had long been unfavourably portrayed in popular culture, especially after the recurring economic crises of the 1920s and 1930s. Since those times, the world of business and its players had been depicted in increasingly muted colours. For example, the image of the businessman as a profiteer and/or lecherous libertine was common in British films during Margaret Thatcher’s leadership of the UK from 1979 to 1990. Amoral financial sharks have also come back into fashion in the early 2020s, in television series such as Billions and Succession.193

Exceptions include portrayals of capitalists who, after life-changing experiences, realize that life offers much more than successful business transactions, and who then put their new insights into practice and start leading richer lives for the benefit of both themselves and those around them. It is within this latter tradition that the 1990s film representations of Schindler and Wallenberg belong. Their respective backgrounds as experienced businessmen turn out to be a prerequisite for their heroic actions. The factual historical starting point is that in practical terms, the SS ran the Holocaust industry as a profitable business enterprise. Himmler wanted SS personnel to be incorruptible and exemplary, but the prioritization of financial profit-making led to recurrent elements of corruption and bribery within the organization.194

Against such a background, the films portray Schindler and Wallenberg as possessing superb ‘people skills’. They know how to negotiate and establish business contacts with individuals both high and low. They know what women fall for, and who might be swayed into benevolence by a bottle of brandy or two. Lars G:son Berg writes that ‘Wallenberg knew how much easier it is to bring a difficult transaction to a successful end after an abundance of good food and precious wines.’ Both he and Schindler had acquired that insight before the war, and it was thanks to their skilful application of it that they were able to carry out their life-saving missions while the world was on fire.195 Descriptions of Wallenberg in the immediate post-war years as ‘a partisan in the service of humanity’ should be viewed against this backdrop. The word ‘partisan’ was in vogue in the immediate post-war period, as a result of the successful resistance struggle of Soviet and Yugoslav partisans against the German occupiers. In Wallenberg’s case, the word signalled that he had acted as a guerrilla fighter. The partisan is distinguished by the fact that he – or she – does not fight according to established conventions. It was argued that Wallenberg possessed none of the qualities necessary to succeed in traditional combat, because he ‘lacked even that toughness that characterized so many men in the Resistance’.196 This view of his lack of military ability is largely plucked out of thin air, though. His military service in Sweden was certainly associated with some problems, but he consistently received good reports and high marks.197 Remarks to the effect that he was not suited to ‘traditional combat’ should instead be considered as a characteristic contained in the portrayal of Wallenberg as being essentially different from the many military men whom he more or less voluntarily confronted in Hungary. To be sure, he had brought a revolver to Budapest in order to feel braver, but it was never used.198 In retrospect, that was no coincidence, as he was so much more adept when drastic situations demanded the use of unconventional weapons. He also displayed great personal valour. As an unarmed man in a violent place, he was ‘without legal protection, left at the mercy of … well-armed desperadoes who no longer felt any respect for either God or Satan as they saw their doom approaching’.199 This relationship was captured in another typically worded dramatic description from the early post-war years of ‘how, with a white piece of paper in his hand, he defeated the Arrow Cross devil who was armed to the teeth’.200 As Per Anger noted in retrospect, Wallenberg’s ability to play different roles contributed to his success. He could be formal when necessary, but also harsh in his dealings with Germans as he did not hesitate to bellow at them in their own language.201

In recent popular-culture contexts, Schindler and Wallenberg constitute a different type of partisan. In particular, Wallenberg, as portrayed by Skarsgård, has realized that it is useless to fight the men of darkness with weapons in the manner of a traditional hero. This role model of the new era is adept at exploiting contacts and interpreting information. Nor does he hesitate to lie, bribe, and bluff to save more Jewish lives. Above all, he is equipped with courage and the other qualities necessary to negotiate successfully with dangerous representatives of totalitarian regimes.202

The similarities between Spielberg’s Schindler and Grede’s Wallenberg should not be stretched too far, though. Steven Spielberg took pains to portray Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) and the German camp commandant Amos Goeth (Ralph Fiennes) as ambivalent and complex characters whose personalities comprised both light and dark traits. One of Spielberg’s sources of inspiration was the classic film Citizen Kane whose protagonist, modelled on several US newspaper magnates but with William Randolph Hearst as the most obvious inspiration, is an ambivalent character who acts both exemplarily and reprehensibly. The films’ Kane and Schindler both practise the art of pretence: whereas the former excels in fake news, the latter is concerned with ‘the presentation’ as expressed by ‘his ability to create a successful business by first creating the image of one’.203

Despite the similarities, the tone of the two films also differs significantly. The feel-good emotion that the celebration of the heroic Schindler was intended to evoke, despite the difficult subject matter, does not exist in Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg. Numerous films and television series on the theme of the Holocaust highlight the contrast between a virtuous, deep-rooted German culture and the barbarity of the ongoing mass murder. A callous genocidal individual like Reinhard Heydrich (David Warner) in Holocaust may certainly be a gifted pianist, and plastic surgery can hide a person’s true identity, but a beautiful voice is recognizable even if the facial features are different, which in Phoenix (2014) leads to treacherous revelations of betrayal and greed both during and after the war. However, a classical work may also act as a link between music lovers, regardless of whether one is a Jew on the run and the other an officer in the German army, as occurs in Roman Polanski’s The Pianist (2002). Both Schindler’s List and Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg feature scenes of German officers playing classical music on confiscated pianos. One crucial difference is that in Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg, the officer plays badly.204 And – as distinct from Neeson’s Schindler – for Skarsgård’s Wallenberg a quiet post-war existence is not a realistic option. A return to an idyllic Sweden would end in futility and unreality. In the film’s hindsight, his sole remaining option is, in the words of film critic Anders Olofsson, ‘to step out through the back door of history and merge with his own myth’.205

The protagonist himself is not the only non-traditional character in Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg. The antagonist also differs from those in most other films about the Holocaust. He displays kinship with the perpetrator in Music Box, also from 1990. In many ways, this film makes references to the legal proceedings against John ‘Ivan’ Demjanjuk in the 1980s, which highlighted the fact that Eastern Europeans who had participated in genocide had been able to obtain sanctuary in the United States on condition that they had been explicit anti-Communists. While most of Music Box is set in Chicago, Second World War Hungary is never far away.206 For American star lawyer Ann (Jessica Lange), the trial of her beloved father, Michael ‘Mike’ Laszlo (Armin Mueller-Stahl), is traumatic. Although she manages to get her father acquitted, the exhibits and testimony presented to the court contribute to her growing conviction that her father is actually identical to the man who, under the name of Miska, committed horrific crimes in Budapest in 1944–1945. At an overarching level, Music Box conveys an insight similar to that championed by Christopher Browning two years later in the acclaimed book Ordinary Men: namely that genocide requires the participation of foot soldiers who are willing, or can be persuaded, to do the dirty work.

For similar reasons, Eichmann appears just twice in Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg and then only in passing. Even so, he is an ever-present threat. Eichmann is the person the Jews are always talking about, even after he has left Budapest. On a visit to Eichmann’s empty luxury villa, Wallenberg’s Hungarian-Jewish chauffeur shoots at the SS officer’s Christmas tree to mark that Eichmann belongs to the past, whereas he himself represents what is to come. However, this faith in the future is revealed to be deceptive, and Wallenberg reacts strongly against the focus on Eichmann. What would happen if there were an Eichmann in every stairwell, he asks indignantly, adding that if the SS man disappears there will still be fanatical Arrow Cross men around who wish the Jews dead at least as much as the Obersturmbannführer does. The Swede’s outburst is based on his experience that Hungarians often prove willing to help the Germans and are sometimes even more brutal in hunting down Jews, whether the latter are in protected ‘Swedish houses’ or not. While Grede’s film team has not entirely distanced itself from the popular-culture iconography associated with Wallenberg and Eichmann, the Swedish diplomat as depicted by them is most successful when he has been transformed into a heroic myth. A Jewish man tells his grandchildren about how Wallenberg met Eichmann over dinner, and how he won a complete moral victory over the SS man by virtue of his arguments.207

Raoul Wallenberg in moving images: universalism, Americanization, nationalization

The historian Lawrence Baron has drawn attention to a number of contradictions between the Holocaust as a historical event and how it has subsequently been portrayed. Unsurprisingly, the theme has changed over time. Nor is it in any way peculiar that differences exist between generations, with older people generally preferring more ‘realistic’ depictions whereas younger ones find it easier to relate to more recent additions to the genre. Examples of these additions in the early twenty-first century are cases in which the inherently tragic story can function as the starting point for gallows humour, or wishful thinking about how things might have turned out differently. Baron also notes that many professional historians have been doubtful about, or outright dismissive of, fictionalizations based on ‘generic formulas of epic struggles between good heroes and evil villains’ or on the ‘imposing [of] edifying endings on an unmitigated tragedy’. Focusing, as in Schindler’s List, on Holocaust survivors has also been criticized by historians because the ‘fortunate exceptions’ risk obscuring the fact that an overwhelming majority of those subjected to the horrific concretization of Nazi racial policy also fell victim to it. Baron argues that such objections, together with more widespread exhortations not to attempt to represent the Holocaust at all, do not measure up. Because it was human beings who planned and carried out the Holocaust, with the result that other human beings resisted or were killed, the Holocaust is an event that cannot be placed outside history; it must remain a part of it. Rather than dismissing the vast array of representations that the Holocaust has generated outright, we should use them as objects for analyses that do not only shed new light on the Holocaust as a historical event. To an even greater degree, these representations may lead us to a better comprehension of how the Nazi genocide has been understood by different generations. In addition, studying them shows us the possible lessons and moral meanings that might be extracted from it in the form of different types of fictionalization.208

One interesting outcome in terms of history culture is the radical transformation that has occurred in descriptions of escaping the Nazi genocide. After the war, Jewish survivors of the Holocaust described themselves as remnants – individuals who had been torn from their roots or avoided the slaughter. The implication was that they were the remains of a residual ethnic group. By contrast, narratives from the late twentieth century onwards have had an undertone that has been labelled ‘triumphant’, because it places the emphasis on survival and the survivors.209 Another aspect is that films and television series are based on the idea that we make history, rather than that we are history. As Deborah Cartmell and I. Q. Hunter have noted, professional historians have ‘typically shown the individual dwarfed by the past’ because they are part of a ‘blind and relentless machinery of historical process’. The basic approach in popular literature, film, and television is radically different, in that it ‘asserts that people energetically influence history’.210 In such a context, it is obvious that individuals such as Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg have formed appropriate role models. They have been both necessary and desirable in order that we may extract some encouraging messages from the catastrophic, and therefore by definition unfavourable, mental image of the Holocaust.211

In the early 1980s, American-produced television series about the Holocaust were characterized by an emphasis on survival, glorification, and suspense. With the public success of Holocaust, the ‘survivor paradigm’ described by Baron became widely prevalent. Particularly in the United States, Israel, and West Germany, the theme of individuals risking their own lives to save a few of the many millions condemned to die by German racial policy fell on fertile ground. In keeping with this paradigm, those who, like Wallenberg, were not Jews but who saved many of them came to be likened to ‘lights in the great darkness’.212

The British historian Tony Kushner adds to this picture by pointing out that those who look back on the Holocaust from a safe distance often do so with the belief that had they been alive in the 1940s they would not have been perpetrators, and hopefully not victims either. At the same time, genocides and persecutions continue to be part of our everyday life today. In such a morally contradictory situation, there is a risk that it becomes difficult to connect with the Holocaust other than in the form of ‘fascination at its sheer horror or by taking glib inspiration from the two-dimensional representation of its canonized non-Jewish heroes such as Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg’.213 Kushner’s conclusion can be supplemented with another line of reasoning, which sheds light on the continuing admiration for those non-Jews who saved Jews from the Holocaust. True, the missing Swede cannot tell his story, any more than millions of Holocaust victims can, but because he ensured the survival of thousands of doomed individuals, his story has become an important and recurring aspect of the survivor paradigm. It has been further bolstered by a number of interviews with some of those he rescued, published to coincide with the screening of the television series about him in the United States.214

Back to Budapest

Historical dramas on film and television are usually expensive productions. As pointed out above, there is a great need to relate to the values that prevailed at the time of filming, even in those cases where the productions are based on or inspired by actual events from the past, such as Wallenberg’s actions in Budapest in 1944–1945. Overall, we can also conclude that the creations of Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story and Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg were closely tied to the surge of interest in the Holocaust that began with the screening of the Holocaust series in the West in 1978–1979, and that culminated in the years around the turn of the millennium. Similarly, it is obvious that both productions focus on well-known figures, not least Adolf Eichmann, and on themes such as the struggle between good and evil. Despite these similarities, it is too much of a simplification to ascribe general validity to these similar – and in some respects superficial – expressions of an almost all-encompassing universalist and/or Americanized way of describing and understanding the Nazi genocide. The film and television scholar Glen Creeber makes an important point about dramas set in historical settings, dramas such as Roots and Holocaust and, we might add, Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story and Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg. Creeber stresses that the people behind productions of this kind ‘are extremely conscious and sometimes even self-conscious about the way in which they are representing history, offering a version of the past that is implicitly aimed at and constructed for a contemporary, frequently nationally based, mass audience’.215

If we view these types of productions as possessing the potential to be relevant to both international and national audiences, it is clear that many considerations contribute to the way in which the history of the Holocaust in Hungary is portrayed on screen. For example, the Italian broadcaster RAI’s television series Perlasca – An Italian Hero, also called Perlasca – The Courage of a Just Man (2002), helped to make Giorgio Perlasca known outside Italy, while also becoming an element of an ongoing domestic debate about the legacy of Fascism and Italian guilt. That Perlasca had begun to distance himself from Fascism even before the outbreak of the Second World War, and that he – along with Carl Lutz, Raoul Wallenberg, and others – made major efforts to rescue Jews, helped him to become an Italian equivalent of Oskar Schindler. The television series brought ‘the good Italian’ to life.216

The national interpretative patterns become even more evident in a comparison between Perlasca – An Italian Hero / Perlasca – The Courage of a Just Man and the Spanish-produced The Angel of Budapest (2011). Both television series are set in roughly the same period, but it is not only their protagonists who differ. The latter production focuses not on Perlasca, but on the Spanish diplomat Ángel Sanz Briz and his issuing of over 5,200 Spanish identity documents to Hungarian Jews. It is not just the fact that the encounters between Perlasca and Sanz Briz are portrayed in radically different ways. Whereas in the Italian version Perlasca more or less co-opts the Spanish Legation in order to enable more rescue operations, in the Spanish version he humbly asks for protection. Even with its emphasis on Perlasca as the good Italian and its concealment of the Fascist context, the Italian series named after him clearly has a different tone and emphasis. It features failures, violence, and brutality, in contrast to the Spanish production, in which most of the people being persecuted are rescued by a thoroughly good representative of Christian – and Spanish – values.217

Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story was created at the transition point between, on the one hand, films and television series which – in the wake of the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal – challenged notions of both a glorious past and present-day successes, and, on the other hand, the Reagan era’s nationalistic desire for revenge, manifested on cinema and television screens.218 Anyone who saw Richard Chamberlain’s Wallenberg need not be surprised for one second that the real Wallenberg was awarded the honorific designation of ‘Righteous Among the Nations’. By acting selflessly and fearlessly in a highly dangerous situation, the fictional version of the US-funded Swede linked back to ‘the good war myth’. This myth had been established during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency, when his speeches continually alluded to values and vocabulary that revived the notion of American exceptionalism: the United States was ‘God’s chosen nation’, as well as ‘a righteous nation opposing evil in the world’.219 Such a self-image, according to which American virtues without exception stand in stark contrast to Nazi German ones, had led the United States to join in the struggle to defeat Hitler and his followers once and for all. Against such a backdrop, Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story reflected a long-influential American view that the Holocaust makes clear

what it means not to be American. Unlike blacks and Native Americans, the Jews did not suffer in the United States but can see it as the place of their rebirth, which makes Holocaust memory less suited for criticism of this country than the memory of the sufferings of these other groups.220

Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg is one of a small number of Swedish-funded films and television series connected to the Holocaust. It fits into an overall pattern in the period from the immediate post-war years up until our own 2020s, a period during which Swedish film and television productions set against the backdrop of the Second World War are easily counted. The productions that do exist usually feature themes rooted in the war years as well as a strong ability to survive, such as outsidership, soldiers on guard, and the defence of national independence – the audience success of the 1973 television series Någonstans i Sverige [‘Somewhere in Sweden’] constituting a prime example.221

Kjell Grede’s starting point was radically different and is best described as a moral use of history in the course of which previously concealed wrongs come to the surface. In this case, it was not least the transition period, which encompassed the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, that fuelled debates about the past. The fact that Grede and his film crew had received the Hungarian authorities’ blessing to film Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg on the spot was a major breakthrough, as these events formed a shameful chapter in Hungary’s history. Engagements with aspects of Swedish history were significant as well. These were sparked in part by much-debated books about Sweden and the Holocaust by the US historian Steven Koblik, and the Swedish journalist Maria-Pia Boëthius’s book about Sweden and the Second World War, Heder och samvete [‘Honour and conscience’]. In Sweden there had long been a reluctance to deal with the dark shadows of the Second World War, something the director described as being typically Swedish: ‘We Swedes know everything – but have not experienced anything.’ One concrete aspect of such an attitude, he continued, was that the next generation was being duped. Rather than being conveyed via complex figures such as Wallenberg, the history of the Second World War was retold in black and white by placing heroes and villains like Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler in the foreground. Grede’s opinion did not prevent him from categorizing Wallenberg ‘as one of the few heroes of the Second World War, a person who transcends limits set by others, who saves thousands of lives, at constant risk to his own’.222

Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg was a sign of its time. True, it did not reach a large international audience, but it did constitute a response to the international attention paid to Wallenberg. Then, as now, neutrality and non-alignment were no longer self-evident Swedish tenets. It hence seemed to be more than a coincidence that a film was made in which the protagonist is a Swede who voluntarily – and at great cost – becomes an active participant who makes a difference in one of the darkest chapters of the Second World War. Wallenberg as portrayed by Skarsgård thereby anticipated the events of the 1990s. As a new member of the European Union, Sweden retroactively wrote itself into the Second World War. A few years later, via the Living History Forum, Sweden became an international actor in terms of information and education about the Holocaust as well as in relation to the late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century memory politics of commemoration, which so often related to, or emanated from, that genocide.

From this reasoning, it follows that every country and every period will have the Wallenberg, Schindler, Perlasca, Sanz Briz, or other role model from the past who is relevant to the moment, but who also belongs within the framework set by national history cultures and international trends on how the Holocaust can and should be represented. If the planned new Swedish television series about Raoul Wallenberg comes to fruition, we may reasonably assume that we will recognize him and his deeds. It is equally certain that the motives for his actions in Second World War Budapest will be adapted to the values of the 2020s.

1 Mark Segal, ‘Bernstein’s many missions’ (interview with Leonard Bernstein), The Australian Jewish Times – The Jerusalem Post International Edition, 5 September 1985.
2 Leonard Bernstein quoted in Baber, Leonard Bernstein, p. 223.
3 Rosengren, ‘“Massaker-musik” och bortglömt minne’, p. 187.
4 Derek Scally, ‘Holocaust opera fails to strike the right note with public, The Irish Times, 25 February 2008; Sigrid Schuer, ‘Gershon Kingsleys Oper “Raoul” in Bremen’, Die Welt, 3 March 2008; Hartmut Lück, ‘Vergangenheitsbewältigung im Musical: Geht das? “Raoul” von Gershon Kingsley im Bremer Schauspielhaus’, Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, Vol. 169, No. 2, March–April 2008, 75.
5 Burkhard Schäfer, ‘Künstler sollen politisch sein’ (interview with Erkki-Sven Tüür), Die Zeit, 21 November 2008. See also Maxim Reider, ‘An Estonian experience’ (interview with Erkki-Sven Tüür), The Jerusalem Post, 9 January 2015.
6 Leif Aare, ‘En bejublad världspremiär i Dortmund: Operan “Wallenberg” fokuserar på humanisten och arbetsnarkomanen Raoul Wallenberg’, Dagens Nyheter, 7 May 2001.
7 Tanja Schult, ‘Raoul Wallenberg on Stage – or at Stake?’, pp. 135–137.
8 Ingo Hoddick, ‘Mythos der Moderne: “Wallenberg” von Erkii-Sven Tüür in Dortmund uraufgeführt’, Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, Vol. 192, No. 4, August 2001, p. 69; Mary Ellen Hutton, ‘Tüür’s “Wallenberg” stinging, timeless and an operatic cyber-first’, American Record Guide, September–October 2008.
9 Ulf Zander, ‘Wallenberghyllan: Hjälten som opera’, Sydsvenskan, 15 October 2007.
10 Mintz, Popular Culture and the Shaping of Holocaust Memory in America, pp. 34–35, 80–82, 97–102, 149–153; Linenthal, Preserving Memory, pp. 49, 255.
11 Rosenfeld, ‘The Americanization of the Holocaust’, pp. 122–125, 130–135.
12 Berenbaum, After Tragedy and Triumph, p. 13.
13 Fermaglich, American Dreams and Nazi Nightmares, pp. 1–23.
14 Karlsson, Europeiska möten med historien, pp. 315–316, quotation p. 316.
15 Schult, A Hero’s Many Faces, p. 67; Schult, ‘Whose Raoul Wallenberg is it?’, pp. 773–774.
16 Diner, We Remember with Reverence and Love, p. 261 and note 31 on p. 447.
17 The Trial of Adolf Eichmann. Vol. 1, Sessions No. 6– 8, p. 107.
18 For the international press coverage see ‘Ryska Wallenbergbeskedet ger eko i utländsk press’, Expressen, 8 February 1957; ‘Alla anständiga människor känner raseri och äckel’, Dagens Nyheter, 9 February 1957; and ‘UD begär besked även om Wallenbergs sekreterare’, Göteborgs-Posten, 9 February 1957.
19 ‘Der Fall Wallenberg: Weißbuch des schwedischen Außenministeriums’, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 14 March 1957.
20 Letter from Charles Lutz to Max Petitpierre, 26 March 1957, YVA, Charles Lutz Collection. See also Klibanski, ‘The Archives of the Swiss Consul General Charles Lutz’, pp. 357–359, and Tschuy, Dangerous Diplomacy.
21 Letter from Per Anger to Heiner Lichtenstein, 1 September 1982, YVA, Heiner Lichtenstein Collection. Yehuda Bauer, who has researched German-Jewish negotiations, has not found any link between Brand and Wallenberg either; see Bauer, Jews for Sale?
22 In a letter to Per Anger, 29 November 1972, for instance, Eric Sjöquist writes about the well-informed Wallenberg contacts he has found in Spain, England, West Germany, and Israel; see RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/00009, Vol. 1.
23 Börje Heed, ‘5 gånger svek UD Raoul Wallenberg’, Aftonbladet, 31 January 1980; Ingmar Lindmarker, ‘Uppgifter i hemliga Wallenberg-dokumenten: “Ryssarna var beredda att förhandla om frigivning”’, Svenska Dagbladet; Olof Santesson, ‘UD-problemet Wallenberg’, Dagens Nyheter; Inger Viklund-Persson, ‘Stalin lovade ta sig an Wallenbergfallet’, Göteborgs-Posten, all published on 1 February 1980.
24 Anders Hasselbohm, ‘Jag skäms över Sverige’, Vecko-Journalen, 1979:27, 2.
25 ‘Svar av utrikesminister Sten Andersson på fråga av Hadar Cars om Raoul Wallenbergs öde’, 24 October 1985, question no. 1985/86:106 (in the Riksdag); RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/00009, Vol. 24.
26 Yahil, ‘Raoul Wallenberg – His Mission and His Activities in Hungary’, p. 8.
27 See e.g. letter from Simon Wiesenthal to Henry Jackson, 12 February 1975; Jan Lundvik, ‘Raoul Wallenberg’, 29 March 1978; Jan Lundvik, ‘Simon Wiesenthal om Raoul Wallenberg’, 30 March 1978, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/00009, Vol. 3.
28 See e.g. letter from Robert C. Metcalf to Ola Ullsten, 11 April 1980; letter from Steve M. Jacobs to Ola Ullsten, 14 April 1980; letter from Frederic M. Fine to Ola Ullsten, 15 April 1980; letter from Meta Hopper to Ola Ullsten, 20 April 1980; letter from John L. Burton to Ola Ullsten, 22 April 1980; letter from Marc C. Hoffman to Ola Ullsten, 23 April 1980; letter from H. Levinson to Ola Ullsten, 29 April 1980; letter from Phyllis Winston to Ola Ullsten, 1 May 1980, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2018/005505, Vols. 1 and 2. See also Lillemor Stridsberg, ‘Pressen stark på Sovjet inför OS’, Göteborgs-Posten, 16 January 1980; Knud Wilhelmsen, ‘Nazi-jægeren: boykot Olympiaden i Moskva’, Jyllands-Posten, 14 February 1980.
29 Letter from Simon Wiesenthal to Marcus Wallenberg, 31 May 1978; letters from Simon Wiesenthal to Nina Lagergren and Carl-Fredrik Palmstierna respectively, 26 February 1979; and the exchange of letters between Guy von Dardel and Simon Wiesenthal, 2 and 9 July 1979, RA, Raoul Wallenbergföreningens arkiv E1:3. Korrespondens. Huvudserie 1979, N–Ö. For Simon Wiesenthal’s involvement in the Wallenberg case, see Wiesenthal, Justice Not Vengeance, pp. 184–195, and Pick, Simon Wiesenthal, pp. 233–238. See also Stefan Meisel, ‘35 år är nog’, Judisk Krönika, 1980:1–2, 23; Eric Sjöquist, ‘Idrottsfolk! Kräv Raoul Wallenberg utlämnad innan ni reser till OS i Moskva!’, Vecko-Journalen, 1980:3, 12–13.
30 Morse, While Six Million Died, p. 371.
31 Feingold, The Politics of Rescue, p. 294.
32 See e.g. Bierman, Righteous Gentile, p. 12; George Barany, ‘A Hero Remembered’, Slavic Review, 1983:4, 657; and letter from Rachel Oestreicher Haspel (the chair of the American Wallenberg Committee) to the diplomat Mark Palmer, 30 September 1985, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/00009, Vol. 24; letter from Edward M. Kennedy to Lina Massie, 23 April 1979, RA, Raoul Wallenbergkommitténs arkiv. E1:2, Korrespondens. Huvudserie 1979, I–M.
33 See e.g. letter from Guy von Dardel to Per Anger, 24 June 1979, RA, Raoul Wallenbergföreningens arkiv, E1:1. Korrespondens, Huvudserie 1979, A–H; Jimmy Carter and Annette Lantos, ‘Raoul Wallenberg, October 19, 1979’, Jimmy Carter: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States. 1979. Book II, pp. 1887–1888; Shuart and Berliner, ‘Jimmy Carter Conference – Town Meeting’, p. 481.
34 Nadine Brozan, ‘Mystery surrounds fate of Swede who saved Jews’, The New York Times, 4 August 1979; Alan Cline, ‘Her search for war hero gets support from Carter’, San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, 14 October 1979; Jean Merl, ‘Swede kept thousands of Jews safe from Hitler’, Los Angeles Times, 14 April 1980; Stefan Meisel, ‘Svensk förening för Raoul Wallenberg’, Judisk Krönika, 1979:4, 12; Vera Brodin, ‘Raoul Wallenberg-förening bildad’, Dagens Nyheter, 4 September 1979; Staffan Hultman, ‘Svensk Raoul Wallenberg-förening bildad: Ökad chans nå klarhet’, Göteborgs-Posten, 4 September 1979. On the Lantoses’ contributions in the American Wallenberg Committee see Schult, A Hero’s Many Faces, pp. 71–73. See also undated letter from Nina Lagergren to Henry M. Jackson, Daniel P. Moynihan, Claiborne Pell, and Stuart Eizenstat; letter from Ebba von Eckermann to Nina Lagergren, 15 June 1979 and letter from Guy von Dardel to Claiborne Pell, 23 August 1979, RA, Raoul Wallenbergföreningens arkiv, E1:2. Korrespondens, Huvudserie 1979, I–M, plus letter from John L. Burton to Ola Ullsten, 22 April 1980, RA, Raoul Wallenbergföreningens arkiv, E1:4. Korrespondens, Huvudserie 1980, A–K.
36 Tom R. Schulz, ‘Es ist der Held unserer Zeit’, Die Welt, 11 May 2001.
37 See e.g. letter from Guy von Dardel to Per Anger, 24 June 1979, RA, Raoul Wallenbergföreningens arkiv, E1:1. Korrespondens, Huvudserie 1979, A–H; letter from Nina Lagergren to Arne Melchior, 26 September 1979, RA, Raoul Wallenbergföreningens arkiv, E1:2. Korrespondens, Huvudserie 1979, I–M.
38 See the extensive exchange of letters primarily between Swedish and American interested parties from late spring 1979 to 1980 in NRA, Raoul Wallenbergkommitténs arkiv. E:1–5. Korrespondens.
39 I. Pe., ‘Wallenbergs öde’ (editorial) and ‘Föga hopp att svensken är vid liv’, Arbetet, 8 February 1957; ‘Raoul Wallenberg död?’ (editorial), Upsala Nya Tidning, 8 February 1957; Mia Leche, ‘Fredshjälte i mörk tid’, Göteborgs Handels- och Sjöfartstidning, 9 February 1957; ‘Raoul Wallenberg’ (editorial), Göteborgs-Posten, 17 September 1965; ‘Levande begraven’ (editorial), Göteborgs Handels- och Sjöfartstidning, 17 September 1965; Staffan Mats, ‘Raoul Wallenberg – 25-årig gåta: Räddade tiotusentals judar från gasdöden i Auschwitz’, Skånska Dagbladet, 24 January 1972.
40 See e.g. ‘Min son lever!’, Aftonbladet, 8 February 1957; ‘Wallenberg, Sovjet och Sverige’ (editorial) and ‘Wallenbergs mor: Raoul är inte död. Vi ger ej upp hoppet’, Dagens Nyheter, 8 February 1957; ‘Fallet Raoul Wallenberg’ (editorial), Upsala Nya Tidning; ‘Raoul Wallenberg på sjukhus i Moskva 1961’, Göteborgs Handels- och Sjöfartstidning; ‘Hon är säker på att han levde -61’, Expressen; ‘Bomb i vitbok om Wallenberg: han levde 1961!’, Arbetet, all published 17 September 1965.
41 Villius and Villius, ‘Raoul Wallenberg dog 1947’, Dagens Nyheter, 3 March 1979.
42 Eric Sjöquist, ‘Gåtan Raoul Wallenberg’, Expressen, 15 March 1981.
43 Eric Sjöquist, ‘Sensationellt vittne! Jag såg Wallenberg torteras’, Expressen, 30 September 1973; Anders Hasslebohm, ‘Jag heter Raoul, inte Paul’, Vecko-Journalen, 1978:15, 10–13; Anders Hasslebohm, ‘Wallenberg satt på Wrangelön 1962’, Vecko-Journalen, 1978:16, 20–23; Martin Seiff, ‘Begin wants Carter to ask Soviets: Is Wallenberg still alive’, The Jerusalem Post, 14 June 1979; Michael Kernan, ‘Phantom prisoner: Searching for a hero of the Holocaust’, The Washington Post, 20 July 1979; Nadine Brozan, ‘Mystery surrounds fate of Swede who saved Jews’, The New York Times, 4 August 1979; Peter Hoffer, ‘Nytt vittnesmål: Raoul Wallenberg ledde hungerstrejk i fängelse’, Göteborgs-Posten, 9 December 1979; Eric Sjöquist, ‘Raoul lever!’, Expressen, 18 January 1987.
44 Kenne Fant, R, p. 5. Danylo Shumuk was released in 1987 after 42 years in Soviet, Polish, and German prisons and camps. He then he moved to Canada before returning in 2002 to Ukraine, where he died two years later.
45 Glenn Frankel, ‘Searching for the truth and Raoul Wallenberg’, The Vancouver Sun, 5 October 1991.
46 Göran Jacobsson, ‘Vittnesuppgifter om Wallenberg av Lazar Berger’, 20 January 1980; (Torsten) Örn, ‘Re: Lazar (Leon Berger)’, 24 January 1980; Lars-Åke Nilsson, ‘Promemoria: Vittnesmål i Wallenberg-ärendet’, 30 January 1980, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/000009, Vol. 9; Maria Karagianis, ‘Reporter chronicles the story of Raoul Wallenberg, a war hero’, The Boston Globe, 8 October 1981.
47 ‘Israeli group rejects Soviet claim that Raoul Wallenberg is dead’, Montreal Gazette, 3 June 1989.
48 Robin Finn, ‘Taking time to recognize a new age of heroes’ (interview with Rachel Oestreicher Bernheim), The New York Times, 13 November 2001.
49 Harvey Rosenfeld, ‘Where is Raoul Wallenberg?’, The New York Times, 17 January 1981.
50 See e.g. enquiry from the chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Frank Church to Leonid Brezhnev, 23 October 1979, RA, Raoul Wallenbergkommitténs arkiv. E1:1, Korrespondens. Huvudserie 1979, A–H; letter from Edward M. Kennedy to Lina Massie, 23 April 1979 and letter from Sherrod McCall to Guy von Dardel, 10 July 1979, RA, Raoul Wallenbergkommitténs arkiv. E1:2, Korrespondens. Huvudserie 1979, I–M; and Ewerlöf, ‘Wallenberg i MR-kommissionen’, 17 and 20 February 1981, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/00009, Vol. 13.
51 Ingmar Lindmarker, ‘Wallenberg supermaktsfråga’, Svenska Dagbladet, 9 September 1979.
52 Heed, ‘5 gånger svek UD Raoul Wallenberg’; Ulf Brandell, ‘Är Raoul Wallenberg i livet?’, Svenska Dagbladet, 12 February 1978; Anders Hasselbohm, ‘Hennes far mötte Raoul Wallenberg’ (interview with Anna Bilder), Vecko-Journalen, 1979:10; Harald Wigforss, ‘“Fallet Wallenberg” en kamp mot klockan’, Skånska Dagbladet, 15 February 1979; Anders Hasselbohm, ‘Ryssarna ljuger fortfarande om Raoul Wallenberg’, Dagens Nyheter, 24 March 1979; Ingmar Lindmarker, ‘Är det önsketänkande att Wallenberg lever?’, Svenska Dagbladet, 4 February 1980; Gabi Gleichmann, ‘Vi måste utgå från att han lever’, Expressen, 17 January 1985; Berit Johansson, ‘Lever Wallenberg?’, Borås Tidning, 17 January 1985; Eric Sjöquist, ‘Wallenberg lever!’, Expressen, 18 October 1985. See also Guy von Dardel and Nina Lagergren, ‘Raoul Wallenbergs humanitära insats och kampen för att få honom åter’, undated text sent to Dagens Nyheter but not published; RA, Raoul Wallenbergföreningens arkiv, E1:1. Korrespondens. Huvudserie 1979, A–H.
53 Letter from Guy von Dardel to Henrik Beer, 14 December 1979, RA, Raoul Wallenbergkommitténs arkiv. E1:1, Korrespondens. Huvudserie 1979, A–H.
54 For an early Swedish analysis, see Erik De Laval, ‘Nürnberg och Katyn’, Samtid och Framtid, 1947:7. See also Jick, ‘The Holocaust’, pp. 304–311.
55 Shandler, While America Watches, pp. 122–127, note 55, p. 274; Doneson, The Holocaust in American Film, pp. 13–107; Torgovnick, The War Complex, pp. 62–63.
56 Novick, The Holocaust in American Life, pp. 103–203; Morgan, Beyond Auschwitz, pp. 79–90.
57 Novick, The Holocaust in American Life, pp. 103–203, 209–211, quotation p. 184. See also Jick, ‘The Holocaust’, pp. 313–318; Cole, Selling the Holocaust, pp. 9–12.
58 For a nuancing of the assertions that the silence about the Holocaust dominated in the decades after the Second World War, see Diner, We Remember with Reverence and Love, passim; Alm, ‘Holocaust Memory in America and Europe’, pp. 500–504. For a critique of Novick’s The Holocaust in American Life see Herf, ‘How and Why Did Holocaust Memory Come to the United States?’, pp. 457–474.
59 Elenore Lester and Frederick E. Werbell, ‘The lost hero of the Holocaust’, The New York Times, 30 March 1980; Stewart McBride, ‘Raoul Wallenberg – the hero of the Holocaust’, The Christian Science Monitor, 24 July 1980.
60 ‘Raoul Wallenbergs syster i tårar: “Jag vet att min bror lever”’, Expressen, 25 July 1979. Nina Lagergren and Guy von Dardel also stressed the importance of the television series in ‘Raoul Wallenbergs humanitära insats och kampen för att få honom åter’, an undated text sent to Dagens Nyheter but not published; RA, Raoul Wallenbergföreningens arkiv, E 1:2. Korrespondens. Huvudserie 1979, I–M.
61 ‘Raoul Wallenbergs syster i tårar: “Jag vet att min bror lever”’, Expressen, 25 July 1979. See also the report from Pierre/EW to UD 25 July 1979, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/00009, Vol. 6; letter from Kerstin Hallert to Nina Lagergren, 19 March 1979, RA, Raoul Wallenbergföreningens arkiv, E 1:1. Korrespondens. Huvudserie 1979, A–H; and ‘Boken om Wallenberg – en väckarklocka’, Svenska Dagbladet, 30 October 1984.
62 Ann Hodges, ‘Miniseries may serve as catalyst for solving Wallenberg mystery’, The Houston Chronicle, 7 April 1985.
63 Thorsell, Sverige i Vita huset, p. 241. See also Jan Lindström, ‘I USA hyllas han som en hjälte’, Expressen, 18 October 1985 and Schult, A Hero’s Many Faces, p. 67. For an in-depth analysis of the links between film and politics in Ronald Reagan’s thinking see Rogin, Ronald Reagan, the Movie, and Other Episodes in Political Demonology, passim.
64 Edel, The Reagan Presidency, pp. 1–8.
65 Ronald Reagan, ‘Remarks on Signing a Bill Proclaiming Honorary United States Citizenship for Raoul Wallenberg of Sweden. October 5, 1981’, Ronald Reagan: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States. 1981, p. 890.
66 Ronald Reagan, ‘Remarks at a White House Ceremony Commemoration on the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust. April 20, 1982’, Ronald Reagan: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States. 1982. Book I, p. 496; Ronald Reagan, ‘Remarks at a White House Meeting with Jewish Leaders. February 2, 1983’ and ‘Remarks to the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. April 11, 1983’, Ronald Reagan: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States. 1983. Book I, pp. 174, 525.
67 ‘Wallenberg Citizenship’, Congress and the Nation. Volume IV. 1981–1984, p. 144.
68 Ronald Reagan, ‘Address to a Special Session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. May 8, 1985’, Ronald Reagan: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States. 1985. Book I, pp. 581–588.
69 Nye, ‘Soft Power’, pp. 153–171.
70 Zander, ‘Remembering and Forgetting the Holocaust’, pp. 203–209.
71 Ludvigsson, The Historian-Filmmaker’s Dilemma, pp. 121, 143, 167, 171–172, 314, 333. The Villiuses’ television programme was noticed in diplomatic circles; see e.g. ‘Conversation Between Ambassador Parsons and Foreign Office Director for Political Affairs, Ambassador Hichens-Bergström, on February 5, 1965’, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/00009, Vol. 6.
72 See e.g. Hans Villius, ‘En evig gåta?’ and Sven Wallmark, ‘Så arbetade ryska fångbyråkratin’, both in Röster i Radio & TV, 1965:5, 17, 39, 43; Sune Örnberg, ‘Raoul Wallenberg’, Vecko-Journalen, 1974:10, 10–11, 48.
73 Letter from John Cottor to Gunnar Jarring, 18 March 1970; Letter from William B. Macomber, Jr to Edward Kennedy, 29 April 1970; Letter from Barbara Chicoyne to Ola Ullsten, 1 May 1980; Letter from Edward Schneider to Ola Ullsten, 1 May 1980, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2018/005505, Vol. 1. See also Derogy, Fallet Raoul Wallenberg, p. 241.
74 Cohen, Media Diplomacy, p. 156.
75 See e.g. Erlander (ed.), Tage Erlander: Dagbok 1965, pp. 20–21; (Carl) Lidbom, ‘Wallenberg’, 29 November 1982, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/00009, Vol. 18; Örjan Berner, ‘Raoul Wallenbergärendet’, 16 November 1989, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2018/005505, Vol. 3; Lage Olson, ‘Jane Horney, Alexander Pavlov och Raoul Wallenberg’, 27 February 1995, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2018/005505, Vol. 12; Jan Lundvik, ‘Raoul Wallenberg: István Újszásy’, 7 July 1999, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2018/005505, Vol. 20; ‘Translation of Foreign Press Release, February 8, 1965’ and ‘Press Reaction on TV Program on Wallenberg Case’ (undated), RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2018/005505, Vol. 36.
76 See e.g. ‘Pressmeddelande måndagen den 8 februari 1965’, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/00009, Vol. 6; Bengt Borglund, ‘Raoul Wallenberg uppmärksammas i TV’, 29 March 1978, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/00009, Vol. 3; ‘Brittisk publicitet om Raoul Wallenberg’, 24 March 1980, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/00009, Vol. 9; Wilhelm Wachtmeister, ‘Raoul Wallenberg’, Washington, 21 March 1981, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/00009, Vol. 13; Lind, ‘Wallenberg-filmen’, 26 May 1982 and Ingolf Kiesow, ‘Raoul Wallenberg i tyska medier’, Bonn, 6 July 1982, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/00009, Vol. 16; [Lars] Hedström, ‘Raoul Wallenberg’, Canberra, Australia, 17 April 1985; Wilhelm Wachtmeister, ‘Wallenberg-filmen’, 13 March 1985; Magnus Faxén, ‘Tribute to Raoul Wallenberg’, 15 March 1985; Magnus Faxén, ‘Tribute to Raoul Wallenberg’, 9 May 1985, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/00009, Vol. 23; Sven Julin, ‘Raoul Wallenberg’, Memorandum, 11 October 1985 and interpellation 1985/86:33 from Conservative Party member Per Stenmarck to Sten Andersson, 17 October 1985, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/00009, Vol. 24. See also Per Anger, ‘Raoul Wallenberg’, Svensk Tidskrift, 1984:4, 197.
78 Sven Julin, ‘Raoul Wallenbergefterforskningarna: Inför kabinettssekreterarens besök i New York 1985–03–14’, Memorandum, 5 May 1985, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/00009, Vol. 23.
79 See e.g. Doneson, The Holocaust in American Film, pp. 194–195.
80 ‘Raoul Wallenberg skulle bli en film med ungersk hjälp’, Göteborgs Handels- och Sjöfartstidning, 8 August 1964.
81 Letter from John Berenyi to Nina Lagergren, 10 June 1980, RA, Raoul Wallenbergföreningens Arkiv. E1:4. Korrespondens. Huvudserie 1980, A–K; Betty Skawonius, ‘Avhopp från Feuer’, Dagens Nyheter, 16 January 1982; ‘Per Mattsson’, Dagens Nyheter, 2 March 1982.
82 ‘Jon Voight as “Raoul Wallenberg”’, Variety, 6 May 1981; Mary Lou Cooper, ‘Salute to a hero’, Los Angeles Times, 24 November 1981; Stephen Farber, ‘NBC doing Wallenberg’s fight for Jews’, The New York Times, 16 July 1984; Arnold Mann, ‘Lamont Johnson, crunches and Wallenberg’, Emmy Magazine, March/April 1985, p. 6; Edwin McDonell, ‘Publishing: The Swedish hero who disappeared’, The New York Times, 25 September 1981. See also Olle Tunberg, ‘Wallenberg-manifestation’, 30 November 1981 and related material, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/00009, Vol. 14.
83 Magnus Faxén, ‘Artister och författare hyllar Raoul Wallenberg’, Memorandum, 23 May 1985, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/00009, Vol. 23; Magnus Faxén to Pierre Schori, ‘Re: Wallenberg-kommittén i USA står på egna ben och startar ny kampanj’, Memorandum, 20 August 1985; letter from Rachel Oestreicher Haspel to Pierre Schori, 21 August 1985; letter from Rachel Oestreicher Haspel to Mark Palmer, 30 September 1985, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/00009, Vol. 24.
84 Carol Lawson, ‘A tribute to a hero, Raoul Wallenberg’, The New York Times, 15 March 1985.
85 Alan L. Gansberg, ‘Johnson to Yugoslavia for “Wallenberg”’, The Hollywood Reporter, 19 July 1984; Ron Kreuger, ‘Lamont Johnson completes “Wallenberg” for NBC’, Screen International, 23 February 1985; Arnold Mann, ‘Lamont Johnson, crunches and Wallenberg’, Emmy Magazine, March/April 1985, pp. 6–8, 54. On Gerald Green see Zander, ‘Holocaust at the Limits’, pp. 267–268.
86 Charles Higham, ‘Richard Chamberlain: Kildare to Hamlet’, The Saturday Evening Post, April 1974, pp. 70–71, 110–114; Donald Chase, ‘Richard Chamberlain: Beyond romance’, The Saturday Evening Post, March 1983, pp. 52–55; Aljean Harmetz, ‘Richard Chamberlain’s mini-series mastery’, The New York Times, 1 May 1988; Lynn Elber, ‘5 questions: Richard Chamberlain’, The Record, 26 June 1998.
87 Lynn Simross, ‘Holocaust survivors record act of heroism: Eyewitness recalls Raoul Wallenberg’s exploits during war’, The Los Angeles Times, 7 April 1985.
88 When the television series was shown, meetings were held at which Bibi Andersson read aloud from Maj von Dardel’s then newly published book Raoul; ‘Boken om Raoul Wallenberg – en väckarklocka’, Svenska Dagbladet, 30 October 1984; ‘Metanela’, Svenska Dagbladet, 31 January 1985.
89 See Lamont Johnson’s arguments about the streamlining he felt obliged to make in Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story in Arnold Mann, ‘Lamont Johnson, crunches and Wallenberg’, Emmy Magazine, March/April 1985, pp. 6–7. See Zander, ‘Holocaust at the Limits’, p. 275, and Zander, Clio på bio, p. 35.
90 Berenbaum, After Tragedy and Triumph, p. 6.
91 Zander, Clio på bio, pp. 11–39; Creeber, Serial Television, pp. 27–28.
92 Zander, ‘Efterskrift’ (2022), pp. 213–226.
93 Kim Salomon, ‘Visuell rapport från ett inferno’, Respons, 2016:2, 12–13.
94 Maria Brander, ‘Norska kritiken mot Sofia Helins nya serie – nu slår hon tillbaka’, Expressen, 1 February 2021.
95 Trond Norén Isaksen, ‘Sant och falskt om prinsessan i Vita huset’, Svenska Dagbladet, 31 January 2021.
96 Cartmell and Hunter, ‘Introduction: Retrovisions’, p. 2.
97 Zander, Clio på bio, especially pp. 11–39; Hughes-Warrington, History Goes to the Movies, passim.
98 Elenore Lester, ‘The scene: Wartime Budapest. The hero: Wallenberg’, The New York Times, 7 April 1985.
99 Creeber, Serial Television, p. 28.
100 See NBC and Paramount’s advertising materials for Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story plus Sven Julin, ‘Raoul Wallenberg’, 9 May 1985, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, Vol. 23.
101 At times it has also been possible to link to the Nazi genocide in order to distinguish between brutal Nazis and dutiful, honourable Germans. The reversal has been illustrated by a comparison between the films Went the Day Well? (1942) and The Eagle has Landed (1976). Despite their plot differences, they both revolve around undercover German commando raids in enemy territory. In the former, produced in Britain while memories of the Blitz were still fresh and feelings of hatred, revenge, and bitterness dominated among Britons, the village inhabitants are all heroic and self-sacrificing, whereas the enemy Germans show their worst sides. In contrast, the roles are reversed in The Eagle Has Landed. The rural Britons of 1976 are narrow-minded, and their behaviour makes it easier for German spies with roots in South Africa and Ireland. The American soldiers are incompetent. Both Americans and British people are contrasted with the self-sacrificing, anti-Nazi German paratroopers. The latter are unmasked because they wear German uniforms under the Polish camouflage. Their German characteristics are revealed after one of them nobly sacrifices his life to save two children; MacKenzie, ‘Nazis into Germans’, pp. 83–91.
102 See Zander, ‘I våldets virvelvind’, p. 318; Zander, ‘Heroic Images’, pp. 129–130.
103 Lajos, ‘Raoul Wallenberg i muntliga källor’, pp. 253–254; Per Anger, ‘Raoul Wallenberg’, Judisk Tidskrift, 1985: 2, 7.
104 Cornelius, Hungary in World War II, pp. 341–342.
105 Telegram from the legation staff in Budapest from Danielsson to the UD in Stockholm, 22 October 1945, in Schattauer (ed.), Räddningen, p. 205. See also Schiller, Varför ryssarna tog Raoul Wallenberg, p. 75; von Dardel, Raoul, p. 16; Andrew Handler, A Man for All Connections, pp. 96–100; Marton, Wallenberg, pp. 101–108; Lester, ‘Raoul Wallenberg’, pp. 151–152; Sröbinger, Das Rätsel Wallenberg, pp. 168–170. Some scholars have claimed she had Jewish roots, which she strongly denied; Streissguth, Raoul Wallenberg, 2001, p. 65; Werbell and Clarke, Lost Hero, pp. 75–78.
106 Stone, Hungary, p. 161.
107 Sjöquist, Affären Raoul Wallenberg, p. 60.
108 Werbell and Clarke, Lost Hero, pp. 75–79, 93–99.
109 Werbell and Clarke, Lost Hero, p. 113. The rumour that the relationship was a love affair is also mentioned in Smith, Lost Hero, pp. 83–84.
110 Elenore Lester, ‘The scene: Wartime Budapest. The hero: Wallenberg’, The New York Times, 7 April 1985.
111 Tom Shales, ‘Crusty, pugnacious “Wallenberg” director made NBC film his way’, The Los Angeles Times, 5 April 1985; Nancy Mills, ‘Raoul Wallenberg – The Swedish Savior’, San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, 7 April 1985. In interviews related to the television film, Elisabeth Kemény strongly denied the rumours of a romance, not least because she was already married and pregnant; see Sjöquist, Raoul Wallenberg, p. 61, Sjöquist, Dramat Raoul Wallenberg, p. 29. It can be added that a romantic theme was also prominent in John Bierman’s biography of Wallenberg, but in that case the object of the protagonist’s tender feelings was Jeanette von Heidenstam, to whom Wallenberg (Bierman claims) proposed prior to his departure for Budapest; Bierman, Righteous Gentile, pp. 22–23. See also Schult, A Hero’s Many Faces, p. 52.
112 Elenore Lester, ‘The scene: Wartime Budapest. The hero: Wallenberg’, The New York Times, 7 April 1985; Jangfeldt, The Hero of Budapest, p. 213.
113 Eric Sjöquist, ‘Jag tänkte stämma filmbolaget’, Expressen, 15 October 1985. She also denied the rumours of a romance in an interview with Sara Callen a year later: ‘Oral History Interview with Elizabeth Fuchs’, 15 May 1986, USHMM, https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn508629 (accessed 3 September 2021).
114 Eriksonas, National Heroes and National Identities, pp. 23–24, 37–38. See also Niklas Qvarnström, ‘Tankeväckande blunder: Den moderna mytologin behöver både hjältar och monster’, Sydsvenskan, 17 December 2008. Another aspect of the narrative perspective has been suggested by literary scholar Jerome Thale, who drew attention to the fact that the narrator in Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness (1902) and in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925) also plays the role of hero in these novels; see Thale, ‘The Narrator as Hero’, pp. 69–73.
115 ‘Wallenberg: The Lost Hero’, press material from ITV Network, Yorkshire Television, BFI issued prior to the UK premiere of Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story. The encounter between Wallenberg and Eichmann also plays an important role in several other history-cultural depictons of Wallenberg; see Schult, A Hero’s Many Faces, p. 56. See also Arne Lapidus, ‘Nazistbödeln som var Wallenbergs motståndare’, Expressen, 17 October 1985.
116 See e.g. Tone, ‘Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story’, Variety, 17 April 1985.
117 Conot, Justice at Nuremberg, pp. 257–259, 261; Holmila, Reporting the Holocaust in the British, Swedish and Finnish Press, 1945–50, pp. 102–105.
118 Wagrell, ‘Chorus of the Saved’, pp. 267–300.
119 Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, especially pp. 21–55, 246–279.
120 Erwin Leiser, ‘Kring fallet Eichmann’, Tiden, 1961:6, 344.
121 Cesarani, Becoming Eichmann, pp. 159–199. See also Schmid, ‘Vorwort’, p. 23, Levai, Eichmann in Hungary, pp. 80, 101, 103, 126–128, 136, 142; Carlberg, Raoul Wallenberg, pp. 328–329.
122 Jörn Donner, ‘Den dödsdömde fången i Warszawa’, Bonniers Litterära Magasin, 1959:5, 394–399.
123 Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, pp. 54, 252. See also Cesarani, Becoming Eichmann, pp. 346–349.
124 See Zander, ‘I våldets virvelvind’, pp. 310–313, 316–319.
125 Gonshak, Hollywood and the Holocaust, pp. 207, 309–310.
126 Taylor, The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials, p. 248.
127 Conot, Justice at Nuremberg, p. 233.
128 Zander, ‘Holocaust at the Limits’, p. 272; Torgovnick, The War Complex, p. 63. Ohlendorf’s testimony during the Nuremberg trials received some of the most extensive contemporary news coverage; see Holmila, Reporting the Holocaust in the British, Swedish and Finnish Press, 1945–50, pp. 83–84, 104, 114.
129 Bartov, The ‘Jew’ in Cinema, p. 206.
130 Erik Hedling, ‘Förintelsen som melodram’, Sydsvenskan, 19 June 2008.
131 Insdorf, Indelible Shadows, p. 25.
132 Kerner, ‘On the Cinematic Nazi’, pp. 203–204.
133 See e.g. witness Lindenstrauss during Session No. 15 in The Trial of Adolf Eichmann, pp. 234–235, and Bettina Stangneth, Eichmann Before Jerusalem, pp. 32–33, 48–50.
134 Schmid, ‘Vorwort’, p. 9.
135 Meyer Levin, ‘Eichmann’s two worlds’, The Jewish Chronicle, 23 June 1961.
136 Zander, ‘I våldets virvelvind’, pp. 303–320.
137 Schreiber, ‘The Heroic Life and Tragic Fate of Raoul Wallenberg’, pp. 4–5.
138 Brown, Courage, pp. 83–84; Rosenfeld, Raoul Wallenberg, pp. 19, 24; Gibbon, A Call to Heroism, p. 168; Holbrooke, ‘Defying Orders, Saving Lives’, p. 137; Kershaw, The Envoy, p. 53; Gitta Sereny, ‘A legend that refuses to die’, The Times, 7 July 1989. Marcus Ehrenpreis characterized Wallenberg as ‘that Swedish nobleman’ in ‘Raoul Wallenberg: Ett brev’, Judisk Tidskrift, 1948:1, 1. On the connection between heroes and aristocrats, see Hughes-Hallett, Heroes, p. 10, and – with a special focus on Wallenberg – Schult, A Hero’s Many Faces, p. 53.
139 According to the Dagens Nyheter journalist Ulf Brandell’s diary notes from 25 August 1962; see Brandell, Dagbok med DN, p. 167.
140 Stephen Farber, ‘NBC doing Wallenberg’s fight for Jews’, The New York Times, 16 July 1984. On Dick Berg’s film and television career, see Dawn Chmielewski, ‘Dick Berg dies at 87; television and film writer and producer’, Los Angeles Times, 3 September 2009.
141 Werbell and Clarke, Lost Hero, pp. ix–xi, 3–5.
142 On Green’s dependence on this book, see Elenore Lester, ‘The scene: Wartime Budapest. The hero: Wallenberg’, The New York Times, 7 April 1985.
143 Werbell and Clarke, Lost Hero, pp. 3–4, 28.
144 Steinhouse, Wallenberg is Here!, p. ix.
145 Berg, The Book That Disappeared, pp. 13–16. See also Villius and Villius, Fallet Raoul Wallenberg, pp. 42–43; Schiller, Varför ryssarna tog Raoul Wallenberg, pp. 83–84, 190; Kovacs, Skymning över Budapest, pp. 134–135; Carlberg, Raoul Wallenberg, pp. 305–306.
146 Adrup, ‘Bjöd Eichmann på middag’, Dagens Nyheter, 13 January 1980; Andres Küng, Raoul Wallenberg, pp. 35–40; Ahlander, Raoul Wallenberg, pp. 54–58; A. M. Rosenthal, ‘Ich bin Wallenberg’, The New York Times, 9 April 1987; Sjöquist, Raoul Wallenberg, pp. 46–50; Linnéa, Raoul Wallenberg, pp. 109–112; Lester, ‘Raoul Wallenberg’, p. 155; Nicholson and Winner, Raoul Wallenberg, p. 48; Brown, Courage, pp. 76–77; Kershaw, The Envoy, pp. 117–120; Skoglund, A Quiet Courage, pp. 88–91. See also György Konrád, ‘On Wallenberg’, The Hungarian Quarterly, Autumn 1998, in which the encounter is rewritten such that Wallenberg is forced to ‘drink a toast with the devil himself’. In the world of fiction, Eichmann and Wallenberg’s simultaneous presence in Budapest has inspired even more elaborate stories. In the novel Safe Houses (1984) by British-American writer Lynne Alexander, a Hungarian woman living in the United States searches for the vanished Raoul Wallenberg, convinced that he is her father. The reader is faced with the possibility that her father could equally well have been Eichmann.
147 This comment probably stems from a remark purportedly made during the Nuremberg trials by SS officer Dieter Wislicent, who was executed in 1948; see further in Klein, Jag återvänder aldrig, pp. 39–41.
148 Kovacs, Skymning över Budapest, p. 292.
149 See e.g. Smith, Lost Hero, p. 97; Lester, ‘Raoul Wallenberg’, p. 156.
150 See e.g. Braham, The Politics of Genocide. Vol. 2, pp. 872–876; Åmark, Förövarna bestämmer villkoren, pp. 273–279.
151 Schmid, ‘Vorwort’, pp. 11–29 and Landau, ‘Nachschrift’, pp. 337–348. See also Levai, Eichmann in Hungary, pp. 190–201.
152 Kastner, Der Kastner-Bericht über Eichmanns Menschenhandel in Ungarn, pp. 247–261.
153 Bogdanor, Kasztner’s Crime, pp. 226, 251.
154 Ungváry, The Siege of Budapest, pp. 217, 302–303; Aronson, ‘The West, the Yishuv, and the Rescue Debate Regarding Slovakia and Hungary’, pp. 432–434.
155 ‘A historical debate on a controversial topic: Germans and Russians in Budapest, 1944–1945’, Hungarian Spectrum, 15 February 2020, https://hungarianspectrum.org/tag/gerhardschmidhuber/ (accessed 20 January 2022).
156 Werbell and Clarke, Lost Hero, pp. 153–155. See also Joszef Szekeres, Saving the Ghettos of Budapest in January 1945, passim, and Kershaw, The Envoy, p. 141. Giorgio Perlasca has questioned this version. In an interview with Linda G. Kuzmack in 1990, he claimed that Pál Szalai had exaggerated his own importance and that, unlike him, Wallenberg had not been directly involved in saving the ghetto; see ‘Oral History Interview with Giorgio Perlasca’, USHMM, http://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn504674 (accessed 3 September 2021).
157 Lévai, ‘Aus welchen Gründen überlebte das Budapester Ghetto’, p. 114. According to one version, Wallenberg supposedly informed Schmidhuber that he personally would witness against the general in a future war-crimes trial if the Arrow Cross were allowed to destroy the ghetto; see Smith, Lost Hero, pp. 96–97.
158 Ahnfeldt-Mollerup, ‘Historien som nyhed’, pp. 65–85. The question was also whether Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story would be broadcast on Danish television, which first occurred in March 1998; see Nikulin (ed.), Raoul Wallenberg i den danske presse, pp. 48–49, 128.
159 Gittan Mannberg, ‘Kärlek och äventyr i skuggan av ett krig’, Röster i Radio & TV, 1985:34, 7–8, 16; K. G. Björkman, ‘Slutet på “Krigets vindar”’, Aftonbladet, 19 October 1985; ‘Så gick det sen i “Krigets vindar”’, Aftonbladet, 20 October 1985; Peter Svensson, ‘Fortsättningen du inte får se’, Expressen, 20 October 1985.
160 Gunnar Rehlin, ‘“Natalie” förändrade hennes liv. Jane Seymour berättar om sin roll i “Krig och hågkomst”’, iDAG, 18 October 1990.
161 Zander, ‘Holocaust at the Limits’, pp. 260–270.
162 Gus Stevens, ‘TV-movie tells Wallenberg’s story in 2 parts’, The Tribune, 5 April 1985; John Voorhees, ‘“Wallenberg” miniseries takes a satisfying look at heroism’, The Seattle Times, 7 April 1985; John J. O’Connor, ‘TV review: Story of Wallenberg being shown in 2 Parts’, The New York Times, 8 April 1985.
163 Arthur Unger, ‘“Wallenberg”: disappointing treatment of a heroic and inspiring story’, The Christian Science Monitor, 29 March 1985.
164 John J. O’Connor, ‘TV review: Story of Wallenberg being shown in 2 Parts’, The New York Times, 8 April 1985. See also ‘Formula merchants are milking the mini-series’, The New York Times, 5 May 1985.
165 Disa Håstad, ‘“En försvunnen hjälte”: Romantiserat om Raoul Wallenberg’, Dagens Nyheter, 15 October 1985. See also Lars Åhrén, ‘Wallenbergserien saknar människor’, Göteborgs-Tidningen, 16 October 1985.
166 Inga-Lill Valfridsson, ‘Gråtmild Wallenberg’, Aftonbladet, 16 October 1985.
167 ‘Chamberlain spelar Raoul Wallenberg’, Svenska Dagbladet, 17 August 1984.
168 Lasse Råde, ‘Wallenberg-dramat’, Göteborgs-Tidningen, 15 October 1985. See also Lars Åhrén, ‘Wallenbergserien saknar människor’, Göteborgs-Tidningen, 16 October 1985; Jan Lindström, ‘I USA hyllas han som en hjälte’, Expressen, 18 October 1985.
169 Hemming Sten, ‘Lovande TV-serie om Wallenberg’, Svenska Dagbladet, 14 February 1985.
170 Hemming Sten, ‘Tacksamhet för Wallenbergfilmen’, Svenska Dagbladet, 17 October 1985.
171 K. G. Björkman, ‘En äkta hjälte’, Aftonbladet, 15 October 1985.
172 Lars Brusling, ‘De undgick förintelsen: “Man känner igen många scener”’ (interview with Georg and Eva Klein) plus Hans and Elsa Villius, ‘UD och spelet om Wallenberg’, Röster i Radio & TV, 1985:41, 6–10; Anita Hansson, ‘Wallenberg som TV-hjälte’, Aftonbladet, 13 October 1985; Anita Hansson, ‘Wallenberg lever’ (interview with Per Anger), Aftonbladet, 15 October 1985; ‘Ännu en gång: Lever Wallenberg?’, Dagens Nyheter, 16 October 1985; Görel Söderberg, ‘Magasinet om Raoul Wallenberg: “Han får aldrig glömmas”’, Svenska Dagbladet, 16 October 1985; Eric Sjöquist, ‘Per Anger hjälpte till rädda judar i Budapest: Wallenberg lever!’, Expressen, 16 October 1985; Bosse Händel, ‘Verkligheten var mycket grymmare’ (interview with Per Anger), Göteborgs-Tidningen, 16 October 1985; Kristina Kamp, ‘Raoul räddade mig undan förintelsen’ (interview with Kate Wacs), Aftonbladet, 16 October 1985; ‘Domstol: Brott att gripa Raoul’, Aftonbladet, 17 October 1985; Lasse Råde, ‘Raouls egen bild!’, Göteborgs-Tidningen, 17 October 1985; Eric Sjöquist, ‘Vi har sett Wallenberg – så gick det efter filmen’, Expressen, 17 October 1985; Lars Åhrén, ‘En väckarklocka för svenska UD’, Göteborgs-Tidningen, 17 October 1985; Anders Hasselbohm, ‘Wallenbergs chef utpekad som nazist’, Aftonbladet, 18 October 1985; Eric Sjöquist, ‘Sveriges svek mot Raoul Wallenberg’ (interview with Per Anger), Expressen, 18 October 1985; Eric Sjöquist, ‘Palme frågar Gorbatjov om Wallenberg’, Expressen, 19 October 1985; ‘Raoul Wallenberg – ställ krav, Olof Palme’ (editorial), Expressen, 20 October 1985.
173 Ingmar Lindmarker, ‘Wallenbergs gärning skildrad på rätt sätt’, Svenska Dagbladet, 6 February 1985; Leif Bergström, ‘Raoul Wallenberg, amerikansk tv-film: En svensk hjältesaga’, Svenska Dagbladet, 18 March 1985; Eric Sjöquist, ‘Jag tänkte stämma filmbolaget’, Expressen, 15 October 1985; Bo Händel, ‘Verkligheten var mycket grymmare’, Göteborgs-Tidningen, 16 October 1985.
174 See the documents about ‘the Wallenberg film’, i.e. Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story, from 13, 14, 15, 25, 27 and 29 November and 2 and 12 December 1985, RKA, Raoul Wallenberg, UD2001/00009, Vol. 24.
175 Fant, Nära bilder, p. 291.
176 Kristoffersson and Faragó, Katinka och regissörerna, pp. 129–131. See also Ricki Neuman, ‘Kjell Grede: Att göra upp med sin historia’ (interview with Kjell Grede), Judisk Krönika, 1990:4, 27 plus Ulf Zander, interview with Kjell Grede, 7 July 2010. In the credits the question about the authorship of the script is solved with the line of text: ‘With thanks to Kenne Fant who gave us the impulse to make the film.’ Contemporary newspaper reports combined the information: Fant’s documentary novel was the backbone of the script written by Grede; see e.g. Anna Broberg and Lotta Svedborg, ‘Svensk storfilm om Raoul Wallenberg’, Aftonbladet, 27 August 1988; Tore Ljungberg, ‘Kjell Grede filmar igen: Budapest oslagbart’, Göteborgs-Posten, 24 November 1988; Jan-Olov Andersson, ‘Skarsgård blir Wallenberg’, Aftonbladet, 21 July 1989 and Georg Cederskog, ‘Livtag på Grede och Skarsgård’, Dagens Nyheter, 26 September 1990. In Klas Viklund’s interview with Kjell Grede, the director emphasizes the large amount of research he did when writing the script.
177 Per Ahlmark, ‘På jakt efter Raoul Wallenbergs ansikte’ (interview with Kjell Grede), Expressen, 1 October 1989.
178 Anders Hansson, ‘Grede vill visa människan Wallenberg’ (interview with Kjell Grede), Göteborgs-Posten, 23 September 1990.
179 Larry Gross, interview with Stellan Skarsgård, BOMB, Summer 1998, p. 38.
180 Raskin, ‘From Leslie Howard to Raoul Wallenberg’, p. 9.
181 Vörös, Även för din skullSvenska Röda Korset i Ungern i världskrigets dagar, p. 41; Staffan Tjerneld, ‘Nya rön om Raoul Wallenberg: ‘Redan då var Wallenberg en gammal och hopsjunken man”, Expressen, 18 June 1972. Werbell and Clarke included Vörös’s account in Lost Hero (p. 114), but unlike much else in their book it did not make it into the script of Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story, probably because it was directly contrary to Chamberlain’s portrayal of Wallenberg.
182 See Bauhn, The Value of Courage, pp. 40–41.
183 Peter Cohen in Kaj Schueler, ‘Att gestalta helvetet’ (conversation between Peter Cohen, Erland Josephson, and Elisabeth Sörenson), Judisk Krönika, 1990:6, 16.
184 Helena Lindblad, ‘Helena Lindblad minns regissören Kjell Grede’, Dagens Nyheter; Anna Ångström, ‘Kjell Grede sa: “Är du bra på att skratta?”’, Svenska Dagbladet; Maria Domellöf-Wik, ‘Känslostarka ögonblick blev till bildpoesi’, Göteborgs-Posten, all published 17 December 2017.
185 Erik Magnusson, ‘von Dardel inför filmpremiären: Filmen gagnar Raouls sak’ (interview with Guy von Dardel), Sydsvenskan, 5 October 1990; Jonas Sima, ‘Pierre Schori berättar i tv i kväll: “Jag grät när jag såg Wallenberg-filmen”’, Expressen, 7 October 1990.
186 Monika Tunbäck-Hansson, ‘Kjell Gredes film om Wallenberg: Skakande och trovärdig’, Göteborgs-Posten, 5 October 1990. See also Jan Aghed, ‘Trovärdigt om Wallenberg’, Sydsvenskan, 5 October 1990.
187 Lasse Bergström, ‘Wallenberg som sömnlös desperado’, Expressen, 5 October 1990; Anders Olofsson, ‘Regissör drabbad av sitt verk’, Chaplin, December 1990, pp. 348–349; Kaj Schueler, ‘Att gestalta helvetet’ (conversation between Peter Cohen, Erland Josephson and Elisabeth Sörenson), Judisk Krönika, 1990:6, 15–17. For one rare highly critical review, see Carl-Eric Nordberg, ‘God afton, herr Wallenberg’, Vi, 1990:43.
188 Hagnut Brockmann, ‘Virtuoser Psychokrimi und unfaßbare Realität’, Volksblatt, 21 January 1991; Christopher Boyer, ‘Ein Opfer ist kein richtiger Mensch’, Die Tageszeitung, 21 February 1991; Dieter Strunz, ‘Wettbewerb: “Guten Abend, Herr Wallenberg”’, Berliner Morgenpost, 21 February 1991; Sabine Carbon, ‘Guten Abend, Herr Wallenberg’, Der Tagesspiegel, 21 February 1991; Stephen Holden, ‘A quiet hero lost at end of the war’, The New York Times, 23 April 1993; Mary Houlihan-Skilton, ‘Wallenberg: Portrait of unlikely hero’, The Chicago Sun-Times, 11 June 1993; Ron Weiskind, ‘Action hero’, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 27 May 1994, plus the review in the American film industry’s magazine Variety, 29 October 1990.
189 Ricki Neuman, ‘Kjell Grede: Att göra upp med sin historia’ (interview with Kjell Grede), Judisk Krönika, 1990:4, 28.
190 Margareta Norlin, ‘Verklighetens Wallenberg’, Aftonbladet, 5 October 1990.
191 Jan Söderlind, ‘Se varulven i ögat: Kjell Gredes uppmaning till Aranässkolans elever’, Arbetet, 14 May 1991. See also Viklund, ‘Kjell Grede: Använd filmupplevelsen!’
192 Trice and Holland, Heroes, Antiheroes and Dolts, passim.
193 Hedling, ‘Krämare, profitörer och libertiner’, pp. 213–254; John Lynch, ‘Därför kan vi inte få nog av fiktiva finansmän’, Svenska Dagbladet, 27 November 2021.
194 Allen, The Business of Genocide, pp. 128–164. See also Crowe, Oskar Schindler, p. 344.
195 Berg, The Book That Disappeared, p. 20. See also Anita Hansson, ‘Wallenberg som TV-hjälte’, Aftonbladet, 13 October 1985. On Schindler and Wallenberg’s skills as businessmen and negotiators, see also Derogy, Fallet Raoul Wallenberg, p. 85; Anger, With Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest, pp. 49–50; Einhorn, Handelsresande i liv, p. 173; Crowe, Oskar Schindler, pp. 138–140; and Klein, Jag återvänder aldrig, pp. 99–100.
196 Hugo Valentin, ‘En partisan i mänsklighetens tjänst: Anförande vid Konserthusmötet den 11 jan. 1948’, Judisk Tidskrift, 1948:1, 3–6. See also Philipp, Raoul Wallenberg, pp. 13, 117.
197 Lars Brink, När hoten var starka, pp. 156–160, 163, 174–192.
198 Anger, With Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest, p. 50; Per Anger, ‘Raoul Wallenberg’, Judisk Tidskrift, 1985:2, 6.
200 Lévai, Raoul Wallenberg, hjälten i Budapest, p. 260.
201 Carlberg, Raoul Wallenberg, p. 302.
202 Another example of the same narrative tradition is Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle) in Hotel Rwanda (2004); see Zander, ‘Heroic Images’, pp. 130–131.
203 Joshua Hirsch, Afterimage, p. 145.
204 Insdorf, Indelible Shadows, pp. 267–268; Zander, ‘Den slingrande vägen från Auschwitz’, pp. 306–307; Zander, Clio på bio, pp. 204–205, 215. The discrepancy between beautiful music and the Holocaust had been used as early as 1949 in the Czechoslovak film Distant Journey, in which children in the ghetto in Theresienstadt (Terezin) rehearse a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem for Adolf Eichmann’s visit; Avisar, Screening the Holocaust, p. 58.
205 Anders Olofsson, ‘Regissör drabbad av sitt verk’, Chaplin, December 1990, p. 349.
206 Jordan, From Nuremberg to Hollywood, pp. 129–144.
207 Kjell Grede claimed in an interview prior to the film premiere that he had received confirmation that Wallenberg and Eichmann had eaten dinner together but that he chose not to include the event (directly) in the film; see Elisabeth Sörenson, ‘Filmen Kjell Grede inte kunde avvisa’, Svenska Dagbladet, 3 April 1990.
208 Baron, Projecting the Holocaust into the Present, pp. viii–ix, 1–5, quotation p. 2. See Wulf Kansteiner, ‘Entertaining Catastrophe’, pp. 144–146; Cole, Selling the Holocaust, pp. 87–94.
209 Wendy Lower, The Ravine, p. 138.
210 Cartmell and Hunter, ‘Introduction: Retrovisions’, p. 2.
211 See Levy and Sznaider, The Holocaust and Memory in the Global Age, pp. 131–207 and Schult, A Hero’s Many Faces, p. 75.
212 Grunwald-Spier, The Other Schindlers, p. 13; Per T. Ohlsson, ‘I skuggan av Wallenberg’, Sydsvenskan, 29 July 2012.
213 Tony Kushner, ‘“Pissing in the Wind”?’, pp. 60–61, quotation p. 61.
214 See e.g. Lynn Simross, ‘Holocaust survivors record act of heroism: Eyewitness recalls Raoul Wallenberg’s exploits during war’, The Los Angeles Times, 7 April 1985; James H. Tolpin, ‘Memory of Raoul Wallenberg refreshed by tv miniseries’, Sun Sentinel, 9 April 1985.
215 Creeber, Serial Television, p. 23.
216 Perra, ‘Legitimizing Fascism through the Holocaust?’, pp. 95–109.
217 Serfőző, ‘Angel Sanz Briz and Giorgio Perlasca’, pp. 257–273.
218 Zander, Clio på bio, pp. 83–117.
219 Zietsma, ‘“Sin Has No History”’, p. 534.
220 Alm, ‘Holocaust Memory in America and Europe’, p. 506.
221 Zander, ‘World War II at 24 Frames a Second – Scandinavian Examples’, pp. 207–225; Zander, ‘På vakt eller på krigsstigen?’, pp. 23–41; Hedling, ‘Somewhere in Sweden’, pp. 237–251.
222 Ricki Neuman, ‘Kjell Grede: Att göra upp med sin historia’ (interview with Kjell Grede), Judisk Krönika, 1990:4, 26–28. On the Swedish debates about the Second World War and the Holocaust, see Zander, Fornstora dagar, moderna tider, pp. 445–455 and Zander, ‘Holocaust at the Limits’, pp. 277–283.
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Raoul Wallenberg

Life and legacy

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