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Gold treasure behind Wallenberg arrest: report

Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg had at least 15 kilogrammes of gold and jewellery in his car when the Red Army arrested him in 1945, according to a new book by Swedish author Bengt Jangfeldt.

Gold treasure behind Wallenberg arrest: report

“It is a reasonable interpretation that the Russians thought it was Nazi gold that Wallenberg was trying to keep from the Red Army. The reason why Wallenberg was arrested could therefore turn out to be rather banal,” said Jangfeldt to daily Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).

Despite his heroic efforts on behalf of Hungary’s Jews, the fate of diplomat Wallenberg, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday in August, remains shrouded in mystery.

He was detained by Soviet forces in 1945 and later disappeared. In 1957, the Soviet’s issued a statement saying that Wallenberg died of a heart attack in 1947, but the exact circumstances of his death remain a mystery.

But according to Russia-expert Jangfeldt’s new book “Raoul Wallenberg – en biografi” (“Raoul Wallenberg- a biography”) there is enough evidence to suggest that when Wallenberg arrived in the Soviet controlled area, between 15 and 20 kilogrammes weight of gold, jewellery and cash was hidden in the car’s petrol tank.

According to the book, the Russians only found the fortune after a high ranking officer had taken his sweetheart – a female officer – out for a spin in the seized car to impress her. Upon running it into a ditch, the Russians discovered the hidden valuables.

The value of the gold today is estimated to 1.7 million kronor ($236,000).

Jangfeldt’s book proposes that this was the amassed fortune of many of the Jewish victims Wallenberg had helped, who had left their valuables to their benefactor for safekeeping.

“The same way that he was saving the Jew’s lives, he also meant to save their valuables. This was a logical part of the rescue operation. He thought the valuables would be safer in Sweden than in Budapest,” Jangfeldt told SvD.

However, according to the author, this may have been Wallenberg’s fatal mistake.

The Russians already believed that Wallenberg was involved in a “German conspiracy” and allegedly suspected him of trying to escape with property belonging to anti-democratic persons.

The fact that Wallenberg had what could be perceived as German loot in his car when he was arrested by the Soviets may also have been a reason for a perceived reluctance from the Swedish foreign ministry to act on Wallenberg’s behalf at the time, SvD reports.

TT/Rebecca Martin

twitter.com/thelocalsweden

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NAZI

Swedish language class teacher in Holocaust row

A substitute teacher has been told off for challenging a Holocaust denier during a Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) class in southern Sweden.

Swedish language class teacher in Holocaust row
The former Nazi death camp Auschwitz. Photo: AP Photo/Alik Keplicz

The teacher claimed one of the students questioned the Holocaust after watching a news segment about the persecution of Jews in an SFI class at adult education centre Kärnan in Helsingborg, newspaper Helsingborgs Dagblad has reported.

But the student said he was misunderstood and claims the teacher yelled at him.

The school co-ordinator later criticized the teacher over the incident – which prompted the student to leave the classroom – according to a recorded meeting about the incident quoted by Helsingborgs Dagblad.

“The student talked to me and he said he felt misunderstood and insulted and painted as a Holocaust denier and Nazi,” the co-ordinator is quoted as saying on the recording.

“What he said was to deny the Holocaust,” replied the teacher.

“Yes, but he felt unfairly treated after he had been accused of that.”

“He wasn’t accused. I only told him it is not okay to say that the Jews just lie.”

The co-ordinator went on to later add: “You should remember that what we think of as history is the history we've been taught. When we have students who have read other history books there's no point setting facts against each other.”

School principal Lena Stenbäck told The Local on Thursday morning that she was to meet with the teacher on Tuesday to discuss the incident, which she said had left the student "very upset".

“I can’t say that the teacher has done anything wrong – I’m sure he tried his best. But a direct conflict in front of all the other students can so easily get out of hand and our opinion is that it is better to deal with that outside of class.”

“The class was about Auschwitz, so they were supposed to discuss it. If a student denies the Holocaust you should challenge that – it’s part of our mission as a school – but this is a matter of how you challenge it.”

The Holocaust has been a hot topic in Sweden recently, after Jews voiced concern of a fresh wave of anti-Semitism following the fatal attack on a synagogue in Copenhagen.

Last week, Swedish Radio was forced to apologize after an interviewer asked the Israeli Ambassador to Sweden if Jews themselves were responsible for anti-Semitism.