Raoul Wallenberg is dead, a Swedish government agency declares

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — A Swedish government agency has declared Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazi gas chambers, as dead.

The Swedish Tax Authority, which registers births and deaths in Sweden, confirmed to The Associated Press that a report Monday in the Expressen newspaper that Wallenberg had been declared dead was accurate. The decision was made last week following a request for a ruling by the trustee of Wallenberg’s estate.

His date of death was set as July 31, 1952, chosen under a Swedish law that says a missing person who is presumed to have died should be declared dead five years after his disappearance, according to the AP.

According to the diaries of Ivan Serov, who ran the Soviet KGB from 1954 to 1958, Wallenberg was executed in a Soviet prison in 1947. The diaries, which were published in August, contain references to several previously unknown documents referring to Wallenberg, including one recording the cremation of his body.

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Wallenberg was posted to Nazi-occupied Hungary during World War II, where he issued protective passports to some 20,000 Hungarian Jews in the final months of the Holocaust. He disappeared in 1945 after being seen surrounded by Soviet officers in Budapest. The Soviets later claimed Wallenberg had died of heart failure in prison.

The diplomat’s parents both reportedly committed suicide in 1979 in despair over his disappearance. Last November, Wallenberg family members asked Swedish authorities to declare him dead.