After over 70 years a film offers the solution to the ‘Swedish Schindler’ mystery. The screenplay of The Wallenberg Dossier, based on the bestselling novel, offers new evidence regarding the fate of Raoul Wallenberg.
Seventy years have passed since the mysterious disappearance of the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who saved tens of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust. He is renowned for his courage, for saving many more Jewish families than anybody else and for doing this only because he believed in what he was doing. In 1944, Wallenberg was sent as a special envoy to the capital of Nazi-controlled Hungary and by early 1945, had issued Swedish papers to thousands of Jews, allowing them to flee the country and likely death at the hands of the Fascists.
The young diplomat went missing on January 17, 1945 after being seized by Soviet forces entering Budapest. Raoul Wallenberg had two suitcases and a famous red notebook in the inner pocket of his jacket, with sensible information. The circumstance of the suitcases makes us think that he knew what was happening and, to some extent, he was voluntarily meeting with high ranking officials at the Soviet headquarters. However, from that moment on, we know nothing more about him.
‘In 2000 a joint Swedish-Russian commission, investigated the circumstances of his mysterious disappearance, only to add to my conviction that here something very particular happened’ says Davide Amante, author of the bestselling novel The Wallenberg Dossier and now co-producer of the feature film that goes by the same title of the novel. Davide Amante reviewed many of the available documents and studied extensively the Wallenberg affair. ‘Russia still has a predominant role in this affair. From the moment he entered the Soviet military headquarters in Budapest with two suitcases and his red agenda, he began a journey of which we know very little. The suspicion is that the responsibility of this – which was always attributed to Soviet first and then Russian shoulders – is not only theirs. In a way, we could say that Raoul Wallenberg is one of the very first Cold War cases, he was directly involved in the growing tension between the Western bloc and the Eastern bloc. Many forces, and not only the Soviet Union, moved around him in 1947 and needed him to ‘disappear’. That is the reason why still today silence and mist surround him and it is so difficult to gather information regarding him. I am convinced this was a truly exceptional man, one of a kind, however his role was not at all neutral and I think he was fully conscious of this when he decided to take action in Budapest.’
Historians and relatives have long questioned circumstances surrounding his disappearance as well as Soviet assertions that he died two years later in a prison of the secret service headquarters in Moscow.
‘Reviewing the documents available, the first thing I noticed is that there is an impressive pattern of progression in the disappearance of Raoul Wallenberg’ declares Davide Amante, adding ‘And I would not be so sure he died in 1947 as the official papers say. I am convinced he lived on, possibly for a long time, but he had to hide and completely change his life’.
‘From the moment Raoul Wallenberg entered the Soviet military headquarters in Budapest, his passport was retained and his personal details were recorded. He was then moved to a prison in a city of the Soviet Union and then to another in Moscow. His papers bear an impressive number of high ranking signatures. However, much more impressive than this is the number of erasures and changes that you find on his papers. His personal details become a name, the name then becomes a number, the number is ultimately changed, erased and rewritten many times, until you actually begin doubting who he his, where he is detained and whom he met during the interrogatories. This almost suggests that his is a planned disappearance. Moreover documents declare Raoul Wallenberg officially dead in a Moscow prison in 1947, although we have eyewitness accounts of him alive in two separate countries many years later. Official conclusions, whatever the document, are always misty.’
Raoul Wallenberg was sent to Budapest by an act directly signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, enacting a US agency created to save civilian victims of the Nazis by providing them with papers for neutral countries such as Switzerland, Sweden and Turkey. Wallenberg’s Budapest rescue mission is estimated to have saved possibily 100,000 people from persecution. Direct testimony of people saved by Wallenberg portray a courageous man acting at his own life’s risk.
Guy Von Dardel, in a once secret letter directed to President Harry S. Truman wrote: ‘The manner in which he [Raoul Wallenberg] carried out his singular assignment has been described as unparalleled both in courage and in resourcefulness’.
Raoul Wallenberg, in 1981, was the second foreigner ever to be named an honorary citizen of the United States, after Britain’s wartime prime minister Winston Churchill. Raoul Wallenberg is one of the very few individuals to have been recognized as Righteous among the Nations in the Yad Vashem in Israel.
Certainly the Swedish government considers the Wallenberg dossier completely open as do researchers, and not by chance the film, like the novel, is titled The Wallenberg Dossier. Davide Amante is convinced the the Nazi in Budapest, cooperating with local Fascist forces, we already investigating Raoul Wallenberg long before the Soviet arrest. Commander Eichmann, thoroughly described in Davide Amante’s novel, was based in Budapest and ordered a Dossier on Wallenberg. This Dossier followed Wallenberg’s fate ever since and is at the base of the film’s screenplay.
‘The screenplay is based on the novel, however when we wrote the screenplay we extend our historical research and we found new evidence to a point in which many parts were added to the screenplay, that you will not find in the novel. For this reason I am planning a re-edition of the novel once the film is released.’ says Davide Amante about the Wallenberg Dossier, planned for release in 2020.
Although the screenplay of The Wallenberg Dossier is still protected and kept secret for obvious marketing reasons, we had the chance to talk to Davide Amante and read some excerpts and we can guarantee we saw something interesting and powerful that finally throws light and does justice to an exceptional man.