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Holocaust hero was executed on Stalin's orders, KGB chief's diary says

Raoul Wallenberg disappeared in 1945 after being summoned to Soviet military occupation headquarters in Budapest
Scanpix/AFP/File
Newly discovered journal expresses certainty that Raoul Wallenberg, who saved thousands, was killed in 1947

Newly published diaries written by the first head of the KGB clearly state that Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews in the Holocaust, was executed in a Soviet prison, the New York Times reported on Saturday – providing the first solid evidence about the Swede's mysterious 1945 disappearance.

Wallenberg was kidnapped near Budapest and no official explanation followed.

“I have no doubts that Wallenberg was liquidated in 1947,” the New York Times quoted Ivan A. Serov, who ran the KGB from 1954 to 1958, as saying in the diary. The diary, hidden inside the walls of Serov's house for decades, was recently discovered by his descendants.

In 1957, the Soviet Union attempted to improve ties with Sweden by releasing a document saying Wallenberg had been jailed in the Lubyanka prison, the notorious building where the KGB security services were headquartered, and that he died of heart failure on July 17, 1947.

After the USSR collapsed in 1991, Moscow agreed to a joint Russian-Swedish investigation into the disappearance, but the final report in 2000 could not reach a conclusion about his fate. Documents had been destroyed or changed to delete references to him, according to the Times.

Clues that Wallenberg was in Soviet prison began soon after his disappearance, with then-Soviet Ambassador to Sweden Alexandra M. Kollontai telling his mother that he was in custody. Kollontai changed her story when Moscow declared it had no knowledge of the case.

The Serov diaries contain a report about Wallenberg's cremation and a report quoting Serov's predecessor as saying that Stalin and then-foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov ordered underlings to "liquidate" Wallenberg.

Meanwhile, Russia has claimed that it could not find a prisoner file on Wallenberg, although Swedish retired senior diplomat Hans Magnusson told the Times that there should have been one for every single prisoner.

Serov wrote in his diaries that while he believed Wallenberg had been executed, he could not discover the exact circumstances. He also said that he could not find evidence that he was a spy. Soviet authorities reportedly abducted Wallenberg because they were suspicious about the ties he had created with senior Nazis and Americans.

The most credible evidence that Wallenberg was killed was an unreleased 1947 letter by Viktor Abakumov, the head of Soviet intelligence at the time, to Molotov. Numerous documents in Soviet archives point to the existence of a letter on July 17 concerning Wallenberg – but the letter has never been found.

“The Russian side’s explanation for this is that the letter was personal and particularly sensitive in character,” the New York Times quoted the joint 2000 report as saying.

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