|Born||2 January 1895|
|Died||17 September 1948 53) (aged|
|Resting place||Northern Cemetery, Solna|
Estelle Romaine Manville (m. 1928)
Folke Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg (2 January 1895 – 17 September 1948) was a Swedish nobleman and diplomat. During World War II, he negotiated the release of about 31,000 prisoners from German concentration camps, including 450 Danish Jews from the Theresienstadt camp. They were released on 14 April 1945. In 1945, he received a German surrender offer from Heinrich Himmler, though the offer was ultimately rejected.
After the war, Bernadotte was unanimously chosen to be the United Nations Security Council mediator in the Arab–Israeli conflict of 1947–1948. He was assassinated in Jerusalem in 1948 by the paramilitary Zionist group Lehi while pursuing his official duties. Upon his death, Ralph Bunche took up his work at the UN, successfully mediating the 1949 Armistice Agreements between Israel and Egypt.
Folke Bernadotte was born in Stockholm into the House of Bernadotte, the Swedish royal family. His father, Prince Oscar Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg (formerly Prince Oscar of Sweden, Duke of Gotland), was the second son of King Oscar II of Sweden; his mother, Ebba Munck af Fulkila, had been a lady in waiting to Victoria of Baden, the wife of Crown Prince Gustaf. Oscar had married Ebba without the consent of the King, and so was forced to renounce his Swedish titles; in 1892, he was granted the titles of Prince Bernadotte and Count of Wisborg by his uncle, Adolphe, Grand Duke of Luxembourg.
Bernadotte attended school in Stockholm, after which he entered training to become a cavalry officer at the Royal Military Academy. He took the officer's exam in 1915, was commissioned a lieutenant in 1918, and subsequently was promoted to the rank of major.
Bernadotte represented Sweden in 1933 at the Chicago Century of Progress Exposition, and later served as Swedish commissioner general at the New York World's Fair in 1939–40. Bernadotte had long been involved with the Swedish Boy Scouts (Sveriges Scoutförbund), and took over as director of the organization in 1937. At the outbreak of World War II, Bernadotte worked to integrate the scouts into Sweden's defense plan, training them in anti-aircraft work and as medical assistants. Bernadotte was appointed vice chairman of the Swedish Red Cross in 1943.
During the autumns of 1943 and 1944, he organized prisoner exchanges which brought home 11,000 prisoners from Germany via Sweden. While vice-president of the Swedish Red Cross in 1945, Bernadotte attempted to negotiate an armistice between Germany and the Allies. He also led several rescue missions in Germany for the Red Cross. In April 1945, Heinrich Himmler asked Bernadotte to convey a peace proposal to Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Harry S. Truman without the knowledge of Adolf Hitler. The main point of the proposal was that Germany would surrender only to the Western Allies (the United Kingdom and the United States), but would be allowed to continue resisting the Soviet Union. According to Bernadotte, he told Himmler that the proposal had no chance of acceptance, but nevertheless he passed it on to the Swedish government and the Western Allies. It had no lasting effect.
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Upon the initiative of the Norwegian diplomat Niels Christian Ditleff in the final months of the war, Bernadotte acted as the negotiator for a rescue operation transporting interned Norwegians, Danes and other western European inmates from German concentration camps to hospitals in Sweden.
In the spring of 1945, Bernadotte was in Germany when he met Heinrich Himmler, who was briefly appointed commander of an entire German army following the assassination attempt on Hitler the year before. Bernadotte had originally been assigned to retrieve Norwegian and Danish POWs in Germany. He returned on 1 May 1945, the day after Hitler's death. Following an interview, the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet wrote that Bernadotte succeeded in rescuing 15,000 people from German concentration camps, including about 8000 Danes and Norwegians and 7000 women of French, Polish, Czech, British, American, Argentinian, and Chinese nationalities. The missions took around two months, and exposed the Swedish Red Cross staff to significant danger, both due to political difficulties and by taking them through areas under Allied bombing.
The mission became known for its buses, painted entirely white except for the Red Cross emblem on the side, so that they would not be mistaken for military targets. In total it included 308 personnel (about 20 medics and the rest volunteer soldiers), 36 hospital buses, 19 trucks, seven passenger cars, seven motorcycles, a tow truck, a field kitchen, and full supplies for the entire trip, including food and gasoline, none of which was permitted to be obtained in Germany. A count of 21,000 people rescued included 8,000 Danes and Norwegians, 5,911 Poles, 2,629 French, 1,615 Jews, and 1,124 Germans.
After Germany's surrender, the White Buses mission continued in May and June and about 10,000 additional liberated prisoners were thus evacuated.
Bernadotte recounted the White Buses mission in his book The End. My Humanitarian Negotiations in Germany in 1945 and Their Political Consequences, published on June 15, 1945 in Swedish. In the book, Bernadotte recounts his negotiations with Himmler and others, and his experience at the Ravensbrück concentration camp.
Following the war, some controversies arose regarding Bernadotte's leadership of the White Buses expedition, some personal and some as to the mission itself. One aspect involved a long-standing feud between Bernadotte and Himmler's personal masseur, Felix Kersten, who had played some role in facilitating Bernadotte's access to Himmler,but whom Bernadotte resisted crediting after the war. The resulting feud between Bernadotte and Kersten came to public attention through British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper. In 1953, Trevor-Roper published an article based on an interview and documents originating with Kersten. The article stated that Bernadotte's role in the rescue operations was that of "transport officer, no more". Kersten was quoted as saying that, according to Himmler, Bernadotte was opposed to the rescue of Jews and understood "the necessity of our fight against World Jewry".
Shortly following the publication of his article, Trevor-Roper began to retreat from these charges. At the time of his article, Kersten had just been nominated by the Dutch government for the Nobel Peace Prize for thwarting a Nazi plan to deport the entire Dutch population, based primarily on Kersten's own claims to this effect.A later investigation by Dutch historian Louis de Jong concluded that no such plan had existed, however, and that Kersten's documents were partly fabricated. Following these revelations and others, Trevor-Roper told journalist Barbara Amiel in 1995 that he was no longer certain about the allegations, and that Bernadotte may merely have been following his orders to rescue Danish and Norwegian prisoners. A number of other historians have also questioned Kersten's account, concluding that the accusations were based on a forgery or a distortion devised by Kersten.
Some controversy regarding the White Buses trip has also arisen in Scandinavia, particularly regarding the priority given to Scandinavian prisoners.Political scientist Sune Persson judged these doubts to be contradicted by the documentary evidence. He concluded, "The accusations against Count Bernadotte ... to the effect that he refused to save Jews from the concentration camps are obvious lies" and listed many prominent eyewitnesses who testified on Bernadotte's behalf, including the World Jewish Congress representative in Stockholm in 1945.
On 20 May 1948, Folke Bernadotte was appointed "United Nations Mediator in Palestine", in accordance with UN-resolution 186 of 14 May 1948.It was the first official mediation in the UN's history. This was necessitated by the immediate violence that followed the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine and the subsequent unilateral Israeli Declaration of Independence. In this capacity, he succeeded in achieving an initial truce during the subsequent 1948 Arab–Israeli War and laid the groundwork for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The specific proposals showed the influence of the previously responsible British government, and to a lesser extent the U.S. government.
On 28 June 1948, Bernadotte submitted his first formal proposal in secret to the various parties. He presented the following suggestions to discuss:
As far as the boundaries of the two Members were concerned, Bernadotte proposed the following for consideration:
Historian Elad Ben-Dror asserts that the person who was really responsible for the first Bernadotte Plan was Bernadotte's deputy, Ralph Bunche. Bunche made a major effort to imbue it with his own thinking about the appropriate political solution. He was influenced by the ideas of Dr. Judah Magnes and incorporated them into the plan, chiefly in its basic scheme, which called for a confederation in Palestine rather than a Jewish state and an Arab state.
After the unsuccessful first proposal, Bernadotte continued with a more complex proposal that abandoned the idea of a union and proposed two independent states. This proposal was completed on 16 September 1948, and had as its basis seven "basic premises" (verbatim):
The proposal then made specific suggestions that included (extracts):
With respect to the refugee issue, Bernadotte said,
It is ... undeniable that no settlement can be just and complete if recognition is not accorded to the right of the Arab refugee to return to the home from which he has been dislodged by the hazards and strategy of the armed conflict between Arabs and Jews in Palestine. The majority of these refugees have come from territory which ... was to be included in the Jewish State. The exodus of Palestinian Arabs resulted from panic created by fighting in their communities, by rumours concerning real or alleged acts of terrorism, or expulsion. It would be an offence against the principles of elemental justice if these innocent victims of the conflict were denied the right to return to their homes while Jewish immigrants flow into Palestine, and, indeed, at least offer the threat of permanent replacement of the Arab refugees who have been rooted in the land for centuries.
Bernadotte's second proposal was prepared in consultation with British and American emissaries. The degree to which they influenced the proposal is poorly known, since the meetings were kept strictly secret and all documents were destroyed,but Bernadotte apparently "found that the U.S.-U.K., proposals were very much in accord with his own views" and the two emissaries expressed the same opinion. The secret meetings were publicly exposed in October, only nine days before the U.S. presidential elections, causing U.S. President Harry S. Truman great embarrassment. Truman reacted by making a strongly pro-Zionist declaration, which contributed to the defeat of the Bernadotte plan in the UN during the next two months. Also contributing was the failure of the cease-fire and continuation of the fighting.
After Bernadotte's death, his assistant American mediator Ralph Bunche was appointed to replace him. Bunche eventually negotiated a ceasefire, signed on the Greek island of Rhodes. See 1949 Armistice Agreements.
The Israeli government criticized Bernadotte's participation in the negotiations. In July 1948, Bernadotte said that the Arab nations were reluctant to resume the fighting in Palestine and that the conflict now consisted of "incidents." A spokesman for the Israeli government replied: "Count Bernadotte has described the renewed Arab attacks as 'incidents.' When human lives are lost, when the truce is flagrantly violated and the SC defied, it shows a lack of sensitivity to describe all these as incidents, or to suggest as Count Bernadotte does, that the Arabs had some reason for saying no... Such an apology for aggression does not augur well for any successful resumption by the mediator of his mission."
Bernadotte wrote that: "in putting forward any proposal for the solution of the Palestine problem, one must bear in mind the aspirations of the Jews, the political difficulties and differences of opinion of the Arab leaders, the strategic interests of Great Britain, the financial commitment of the United States and the Soviet Union, the outcome of the war, and finally the authority and prestige of the United Nations."
Bernadotte was assassinated on Friday 17 September 1948 by members of the armed Jewish Zionist group Lehi (commonly known as the Stern Gang or Stern Group). Immediately after his death, Bernadotte's body was moved to the YMCA, before being taken to Haifa and then flown back to Sweden, where the state funeral was attended by Abba Eban on behalf of Israel. Bernadotte was survived by a widow and two sons, a 12-year-old and a 17-year-old. He was buried in Prince Oscar Bernadotte's family tomb at the Northern Cemetery in Stockholm.
The killing was approved by the three-man 'center' of Lehi: Yitzhak Yezernitsky (the future Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Shamir), Nathan Friedmann (also called Natan Yellin-Mor) and Yisrael Eldad (also known as Scheib). A fourth leader, Emmanuel Strassberg (Hanegbi) was also suspected by the Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion of being part of the group that had decided on the assassination.The assassination was planned by the Lehi operations chief in Jerusalem, Yehoshua Zettler. A four-man team, consisting of Yehoshua Cohen, Yitzhak Ben-Moshe (Markovitz), Avraham Steinberg, and Meshulam Makover, ambushed Bernadotte's motorcade in Jerusalem's Katamon neighborhood. The team left a Lehi base in a jeep and set up a makeshift roadblock at Ben Zion Guini Square, off Hapalmah Street, and waited in the jeep. When Bernadotte's motorcade approached, Cohen, Ben-Moshe, and Steinberg got out and approached it, while Makover, the driver, remained in the jeep. Captain Moshe Hillman, the motorcade's Israeli liaison officer, who was sitting in the leading UN vehicle, called out in Hebrew to let them through, but was ignored. Cohen came up to Bernadotte's sedan and fired through an open window, hitting Bernadotte and a French officer who was sitting beside him, Colonel André Serot. Both Bernadotte and Serot were killed. Ben-Moshe and Steinberg shot at the tires of the UN vehicles, while Cohen finished the magazine by firing at the radiator. The driver of the sedan, Colonel Begley, got out and tried to grapple with Cohen as he fired his last shots, but was burned in the face by the gun flashes. Ben-Moshe and Steinberg then rushed back and mounted the jeep, which quickly accelerated down a side road, while Cohen ran away from the scene across a roadside field. Following the shooting, Bernadotte's sedan sped to the Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital, despite damage to the radiator; the lead vehicle followed as its tires came apart. At the hospital, Bernadotte was pronounced dead. General Åge Lundström, who was in the UN vehicle, described the incident as follows:
In the Katamon quarter, we were held up by a Jewish Army type jeep placed in a road block and filled with men in Jewish Army uniforms. At the same moment, I saw an armed man coming from this jeep. I took little notice of this because I merely thought it was another checkpoint. However, he put a Tommy gun through the open window on my side of the car, and fired point blank at Count Bernadotte and Colonel Serot. I also heard shots fired from other points, and there was considerable confusion... Colonel Serot fell in the seat in back of me, and I saw at once that he was dead. Count Bernadotte bent forward, and I thought at the time he was trying to get cover. I asked him: 'Are you wounded?' He nodded, and fell back.... When we arrived [at the Hadassah hospital]... I carried the Count inside and laid him on the bed.... I took off the Count's jacket and tore away his shirt and undervest. I saw that he was wounded around the heart and that there was also a considerable quantity of blood on his clothes about it. When the doctor arrived, I asked if anything could be done, but he replied that it was too late.
All four members of the hit team made it to the religious community of Shaarei Pina, where they hid with local Haredi Lehi sympathizers. After a few days in hiding, they fled to Tel Aviv in the back of a furniture truck.
The following day the United Nations Security Council condemned the killing of Bernadotte as "a cowardly act which appears to have been committed by a criminal group of terrorists in Jerusalem while the United Nations representative was fulfilling his peace-seeking mission in the Holy Land."
Lehi leaders initially denied responsibility for the attack.Later Lehi took responsibility for the killings in the name of Hazit Hamoledet (the National Front), a name they copied from a war-time Bulgarian resistance group. The group regarded Bernadotte as a stooge of the British and their Arab allies, and therefore as a serious threat to the emerging state of Israel. Most immediately, a truce was in force and Lehi feared that the Israeli leadership would agree to Bernadotte's peace proposals, which they considered disastrous. They did not know that the Israeli leaders had already decided to reject Bernadotte's plans and take the military option. Betty Knut-Lazarus, a Lehi militant, and the granddaughter of composer Alexander Scriabin, was also imprisoned for being allegedly involved in the killing, before being subsequently released.
Lehi was forcibly disarmed and many members were arrested, but nobody was charged with the killings. The Israel Police, along with the military police and security services, investigated the assassination, but failed to identify any of the participants in the assassination, and the case was eventually closed without any of the participants having been identified. It has been suggested that the reasons for the failure of the investigation were poor coordination between these bodies, which resulted in information that may have assisted the police not being turned over to them, and the lack of proficiency among police officers and investigators in the early days of the Israel Police.The murder case was identified as 148/48 in Israeli police records. Yellin-Mor and another Lehi member, Mattityahu Shmulevitz, were charged with belonging to a terrorist organization. They were found guilty but immediately released and pardoned. Yellin-Mor had meanwhile been elected to the first Knesset. Years later, Cohen's role was uncovered by David Ben-Gurion's biographer Michael Bar Zohar, while Cohen was working as Ben-Gurion's personal bodyguard. The first public admission of Lehi's role in the killing was made on the anniversary of the assassination in 1977. The statute of limitations for the murder had expired in 1971. In 1988, two years after Cohen's death, Zettler and Makover publicly confessed their role in the assassination and confirmed that Cohen had killed Bernadotte. The weapon (Schmeisser serial number 2581 ) which was used in the assassination was lost, and was only found again in 2018 during an inventory check in the Heritage house of the Israel Police when an unidentified box had a Schmeisser gun and the curator, Shlomi Shitrit, decided to identify the history of the gun. Prior to the finding it was believed that the weapon had been destroyed.
The Swedish government believed that Bernadotte had been assassinated by Israeli government agents.They publicly attacked the inadequacy of the Israeli investigation, and campaigned unsuccessfully to delay Israel's admission to the United Nations. In 1950, Sweden recognized Israel, but relations remained frosty despite Israeli attempts to mollify Sweden, such as through the planting of a Bernadotte Forest by the Jewish National Fund in Israel. At a ceremony in Tel Aviv in May 1995, attended by the Swedish deputy prime minister, Israeli Foreign Minister and Labor Party member Shimon Peres issued a "condemnation of terror, thanks for the rescue of the Jews and regret that Bernadotte was murdered in a terrorist way," adding that "We hope this ceremony will help in healing the wound."
Ralph Bunche, Bernadotte's American deputy, succeeded him as U.N. mediator. Bunche was successful in bringing about the signing of the 1949 Armistice Agreements, for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 1998, Bernadotte was posthumously awarded one of the first three Dag Hammarskjöld Medals, given to UN peacekeepers who are killed in the line of duty.The university library at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, USA is named after him.
In 1928 in Pleasantville, New York,Folke Bernadotte married Estelle Romaine Manville (1904–1984), whose family had founded part of the Johns-Manville Corporation. They had four sons, two of whom died in childhood.
Seven grandchildren were all born after Folke Bernadotte's death. His widow Estelle Bernadotte remarried in 1973.
In September 2008, it became official that before his marriage Bernadotte had a daughter with actress Lillie Ericson-Udde (Lillie Christina Ericson, 1892–1981):
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|Ancestors of Folke Bernadotte|
Zionist political violence refers to acts of violence or terror committed by Zionists.
Lehi, often known pejoratively as the Stern Gang, was a Zionist paramilitary organization founded by Avraham ("Yair") Stern in Mandatory Palestine. Its avowed aim was to evict the British authorities from Palestine by resort to force, allowing unrestricted immigration of Jews and the formation of a Jewish state, a "new totalitarian Hebrew republic". It was initially called the National Military Organization in Israel, upon being founded in August 1940, but was renamed Lehi one month later. The group referred to its members as terrorists and admitted to having used terrorist attacks.
The United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) is an organization founded on 29 May 1948 for peacekeeping in the Middle East. Its primary task was providing the military command structure to the peacekeeping forces in the Middle East to enable the peacekeepers to observe and maintain the ceasefire, and as may be necessary in assisting the parties to the Armistice Agreements in the supervision of the application and observance of the terms of those Agreements. The command structure of the UNTSO was maintained to cover the later peacekeeping organisations of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
Count of Wisborg is a title granted by the monarchs of Luxembourg to some men formerly titled as princes of Sweden and their descendants.
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 was adopted on December 11, 1948, near the end of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. The Resolution defined principles for reaching a final settlement and returning Palestine refugees to their homes. It resolved that “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”
The Progress Report of the United Nations Mediator on Palestine is a UN official record submitted by the United Nations Mediator on Palestine to the Third Session of the General Assembly. It was written and prepared by the UN Mediator Count Folke Bernadotte and was published on September 16, 1948 one day before he was assassinated by members of Lehi.
The United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP) or Palestine Conciliation Commission (PCC) was created by UN-resolution 194 of 11 December 1948, in order to mediate in the Arab–Israeli conflict. The Commission consisted of France, Turkey and the United States. Its official headquarters was set up in Jerusalem on 24 January 1949.
The Fighters' List was a political party in Israel.
Israel Eldad, was an Israeli Revisionist Zionist philosopher and member of the pre-state underground group Lehi.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 72, adopted on August 11, 1949, after receiving a report by the Acting United Nations Mediator in Palestine on the completion of his responsibilities the UN decided to pay tribute to the late Count Folke Bernadotte, the then current Acting Mediator Dr. Ralph J. Bunche and the Belgian, French, Swedish and American officers who served on the staff and as military observers in Palestine.
Nathan Yellin-Mor(Hebrew: נתן ילין-מור, Nathan Friedman-Yellin; 1913 – 19 February 1980) was a Revisionist Zionist activist, Lehi leader and Israeli politician. In later years, he became a leader of the Israeli peace camp, a pacifist who supported negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization and concessions in the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Yehoshua Cohen was a leading member of Lehi, a Zionist militant group, who fired the fatal shots in the assassination of United Nations envoy Folke Bernadotte on September 17, 1948. Cohen was never charged for his role in the assassination, and was one of the founders of the Sde Boker kibbutz in the Negev Desert, where David Ben-Gurion later lived. While Ben-Gurion lived at Sde Boker, he and Cohen became close friends.
Israel–Sweden relations refers to the bilateral relations between Israel and Sweden. Israel has an embassy in Stockholm while Sweden has an embassy in Tel Aviv, consulate in Jerusalem and honorary consulates. The diplomatic relations between the two countries were badly damaged when Sweden became the first member of the EU to recognize the state of Palestine in 2014. Previously, other members had recognized Palestine, but that was before they joined the EU.
Yehoshua Zettler was an Israeli who served as the Jerusalem commander of the Jewish paramilitary group Lehi, often called the Stern Gang. He conceived and planned the September 17, 1948, assassination of Swedish Count Folke Bernadotte, who was representing the United Nations Security Council as a mediator in the aftermath of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.
Events in the year 1948 in Israel.
Yolande Harmer was an Israeli intelligence officer who operated in Egypt in 1948. She was recruited due to her connections in elite and royal circles, she has been described as "Israel's Mata Hari". A town square in Jerusalem, 'Yolande Harmer Square', is named after her.
Estelle Bernadotte, Countess of Wisborg (1928–1973), also known as Estelle Ekstrand, was an American-Swedish countess who was a leading figure in the International Red Cross and Girl Scout movement. She married Count Folke Bernadotte, a Swedish member of a United Nations mediating team. He was assassinated by the extremist zionist Stern gang while on duty in Israel in September 1948.
Mandatory Palestine was a geopolitical entity established between 1920 and 1923 in the region of Palestine under the terms of the "Mandate for Palestine".
The Kingdom of Sweden became a member of the United Nations on November 19, 1946. Sweden has historically contributed with political leadership; politicians and diplomats such as Dag Hammarskjöld, Folke Bernadotte, Alva Myrdal and Margot Wallström and others have all played important roles in the development of the UN organization. Sweden is one of few member nations which meets or exceeds United Nations humanitarian aid spending target of 0.7% of GDP. In 2017, Swedish aid spending amounted to 1.4% of its GDP. The country has held a non-permanent seat in the Security Council four times, most recently between 2017 and 2018.
Mr. Shamir, nearly 80, still speaks elliptically about the Bernadotte assassination. Years later, when Ben-Gurion moved to a kibbutz in the Negev desert, Sdeh Bokker, one of his closest friends there was Yehoshua Cohen, who had been one of the assassins.Review of Kati Marton's biography.
In recent years, several members of the group known by the British as the Stern Gang have acknowledged responsibility for the killing. Mr. Shamir, who was a member of the Stern Gang, has declined to discuss the killing, and one of his spokesman has said he had no role in it.
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