Lead: Having negotiated the release of thousands of concentration camp inmates in the closing days of the Third Reich, 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 his intervention, his role was a vital one. Despite the moral implications of negotiating with someone like Himmler, many lives were saved in the chaotic collapse of Hitler’s regime. Bernadotte’s reputation as an intermediary in 1945 led to his appointment as United Nations mediator in Palestine after the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. Both sides rejected his plan. He advocated contiguous borders for Israel, giving the new state Galilee, but turning over the Negev to Arab control, putting Jerusalem under U.N administration 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 in the mediator was eroding.” Some in Israel began to plot his removal.