Putin’s government surprisingly is at least partially open to historical truths over Soviet lies recently. His presence at the Katyn massacre memorial and then again for the plane crash memorial well covered. Another facet is a seemingly small but hugely significant gesture: releasing more files on the fate of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, arrested by the Soviets in Budapest after he worked desperately to save hundreds of thousands of Jews. Amy Knight, who has written several good books on Soviet intelligence, sums it up in NYR.
When the Soviet Union fell, the KGB was sundered into two: the SVR (the old First Chief Directorate for foreign intelligence) and the FSB (the old Second Chief Directorate for domestic matters). It’s the FSB which on its own this year provided information undercutting Soviet and Russian official lies about Wallenberg’s fate. As Knight notes, we still do not yet have the full truth or any measure of confidence as to how Wallenberg died in Soviet hands.
Many former Soviet-related colleagues and now fresh young faces unknown to the Stiftung are speculating on why these terribly belated now. Naturally, the Poles like Z-Not-Zo-Great attribute it to Polish resurgence and Russia’s need to reconcile with Poland to get a fair hearing in Europe. Warsaw as Europe’s arbiter. Right. Others put Europe first and see normalizing consensual history the first step towards deeper social and economic connectivity. The Stiftung also sees a domestic imperative as well. The Russians have their virulently anti-American ‘Fox Nation’/tea bag demographic, naturally. But the broader sociology and demographics have changed – more education, younger people getting news from around the world, etc. Their Stalin-Brezhnev cohorts are dwindling away. Even Putinism as a social and political force benefits from carefully measured and controlled truth telling.
Regardless, one can only hope that all of us learn the truth about Raoul Wallenberg, Russians and the world both.