Archive shows 64-year Wallenberg search has torn family apart





STOCKHOLM -- In neat script, blue ink on white letterhead, Fredrik von Dardel began writing to the stepson he had long been told to leave for dead: "Dear beloved Raoul."

It was March 24, 1956. He always wrote at his living-room table, his wife, Maria, looking on from a corner of the couch by the phone. On a chest, a spray of flowers she kept fresh stood beside a picture of her son, Raoul Wallenberg.

Mr. Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who safeguarded 20,000 Jews in Budapest in the waning months of World War II, vanished into the Soviet penal system in 1945. But the couple, then 71 and 65 years old, believed their son was alive and readied a letter for Sweden's prime minister to take to Moscow...

Mr. Wallenberg did not come home then, or ever. His end remains unclear. The world now knows the missing Swede as a symbol of humanitarianism -- an honorary citizen in four countries, commemorated with stamps in eight and monuments in 12, the subject of scores of films and books.

Unknown, however, is the price his family paid as it tried in vain to bring him home. For six decades, his parents and siblings battled Moscow and their native Stockholm, mounting a search for answers that cost them their savings, careers, relationships, health and, concealed until now, two of their lives.

Also unknown, even to the Swedish foreign ministry -- whose file on Mr. Wallenberg dwarfs its record of any king, colony or war -- is that the family documented its struggle. Mr. Wallenberg's late mother and stepfather, who died two days apart in 1979, kept a diary. His half-brother, Guy von Dardel, now 89, compiled a 50,000-page archive.

Together with hundreds of interviews, the family's thousands of journal entries, letters and documents -- most read for the first time by The Wall Street Journal -- lay bare the toll of an unending quest.


comments powered by Disqus