Cruel times produce villains and heroes. Sweden, neutral in the Great Wars which ravaged Europe between 1914 and 1945 produced two men of outstanding courage and compassion who saved thousands of Jews from destruction by Nazis and other Fascists, whose memories deserve veneration by all humanity. Both served as Swedish diplomats.
One of them, Raoul Wallenberg was posthumously awarded honorary citizenship of Australia, Canada, Hungary, the USA and Israel.
Australia and the USA have issued postage stamps in his honour. Two operas bear his names, the one called “Wallenberg” and the other called “Raoul.” The Irish singer Andy Irvine has recorded a song about him.
Buenos Aires and London, Melbourne and Moscow, St Petersburg, Stockholm, Sydney and Vancouver have monuments to commemorate him.
Young Douglas Murray, a protégé of the late British Secretary for Education Michael Gove, has written a play about him, and the most recent biography – “The Hero of Budapest -the Triumph and Tragedy of Raoul Wallenberg” by Bengt Jangfeldt is reviewed in the August 2014 issue of HISTORY TODAY.
Raoul Wallenberg was detained by the Red Army during the siege of Budapest in January 1945 and it’s believed he was shot by the KGB in Moscow in 1947.
Count Folke Bernadotte, played a similar heroic and humanitarian role to that of Wallenburg.He was appointed as the United Nation’s Mediator in Palestine in May 1948. His funeral that September was attended by UN Secretary General Trygve Lie, Canadian Prime Minister William McKenzie King, US Secretary of State George Marshall, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman and British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin. He was killed by what the UN Security Council categorised as
“a cowardly act which appears to have been committed by a criminal gang of terrorists in Jerusalemwhile the United Nations Representative in Jerusalem was fulfilling his peace-keeping mission int A Tale of Two Heroes – and One Shameless Coward A Tale of Two Heroes – and One Shameless Coward he Holy Land.”
The killing was ordered by Yitzhak Shamir, later a Prime Minister of Israel, whose “Lehi” organisation admitted responsibility in 1977, six years after the Statute of Limitations for murder ran out.
Though the UN Security Council, with no dissenters, and “the Great and the Good” of the Western World honoured Count Bernadotte, he appears little honoured today, in the offices occupied by George Marshall, Ernest Bevin, or William McKenzie King.The current occupiers appear to be struck dumb as the successors of the murderers of Bernadotte carry on their grisly business in Gaza, when not actually cheering them on.
Mr Gordon Brown a few years back published a book on courage, praising eight heroes it took no courage to praise, including, you guessed it, Raoul Wallenberg. He hadn’t the balls to praise Count Folke Bernadotte.