Tuesday July 22, 2014
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09-008 Count Folke Bernadotte II

Tuesday Jul 22, 2014

Lead: Having negotiated the release of thousands of death camp inmates, Folke Bernadotte attempted to mediate the land settlement in Palestine and paid for it with his life.

Intro: A Moment In Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Count Folke Bernadotte, head of the Swedish Red Cross, earned his reputation as a mediator when he treated with Heinrich Himmler for the early release and transportation of internees at Buchenwald, Ravensbruck, and Theresienstadt concentration camps. While some historians dispute the importance of Bernadotte's intervention, his role was a vital one. His reputation led to his appointment as United Nations mediator in Palestine after the creation of the State of Israel. He advocated contiguous borders for Israel, giving the new state Galilee but turning over the Negev to Arab control, putting Jerusalem under the administration of the United Nations, and allowing Arab refugees to return to their homes in Israel. Arab negotiators, who rejected the legitimacy of Israel in the first place, turned their back on Bernadotte's efforts and according to essayist Cary Stanger, Israeli "confidence was eroding."

On September 17, 1948, agents of the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel, an extremist group also known as the Stern Gang, directed by a triumvirate which included future Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, assassinated Bernadotte and his deputy in their car on a Jerusalem street. Both Israeli and Arabian extremists perceived his ability to see the value of both sides as a threat, and Count Folke Bernadotte entered the long list of those whose neutrality and moderation in the Middle East were unacceptable alternatives; a list that seems to grow with each passing year.

Research assistance by Carolyn Cox. The producer of A Moment In Time is Steve Clark. At the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.


Bernadotte, Count Folke. The Curtain Falls: Last days of the Third Reich. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1945.

Heller, Joseph. "Bernadotte's Mission to Palestine (1948)

Palmer, Raymond. "Felix Kersten and Count Bernadotte: A Question of Rescue," Journal of Contemporary History 29 (1, 1994): 39-51.

Stanger, Cary David. "A Haunting Legacy: the Assassination of Count Bernadotte," Middle East Journal 20 (4, 1984): 224-232.

Trever-Roper, Hugh. "Kersten, Himmler, and Count Bernadotte," Atlantic 7(1953): 44ff.

Copyright 2014 by Dan Roberts Enterprises, Inc.


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