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Sweden declares Holocaust hero Wallenberg died in 1952

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Sweden declares Holocaust hero Wallenberg died in 1952
A monument commemorating Raoul Wallenberg in Stockholm. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT
17:37 CET+01:00
Swedish tax authority Skatteverket has declared an official date of death for famed diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, whose end has been shrouded in mystery and debate for half a century.

Wallenberg is credited with rescuing 100,000 Jews from the Holocaust while stationed in Hungary during World War II. He was last seen in Budapest on January 17, 1945, when Soviet forces seized the city from German troops. Soviet records state that he died in a Moscow prison in 1947, but there has long been speculation over whether that account is accurate.

Skatteverket has now declared that Wallenberg died five years later than the Soviet account claims, with the Swede instead meeting his end in 1952. “He is deemed to have died on 31st of July, 1952,” the tax authority told Swedish tabloid Expressen.

For years, Wallenberg's family have fought to uncover his exact fate, as well as honour his legacy. Last year they submitted a request to Skatteverket to have him officially declared dead in what they called "a way to deal with the trauma we lived through, to bring one phase to closure and move on".

When captured in 1945, Wallenberg was largely abandoned to his fate by his home nation, and the lack of effort eventually prompted a public apology by then Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson in 2001.

On August 27th 2013, Sweden celebrated its first official Raoul Wallenberg day to commemorate the late diplomat's legacy. The date of the commemoration was made official by the Swedish Academy after lobbying in 2012, a year the Swedish government recognized Wallenberg with a series of events organized in Sweden and abroad to coincide with the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Sweden has had a difficult relationship with the humanitarian hero, as The Local explained here. In the US, by contrast, his efforts have long been recognized officially.

In 1981, Ronald Reagan made him an "honorary citizen of the US". In 2014 he was posthumously presented with a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by the US Congress. 

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