Folke Bernadotte

Folke Bernadotte

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Folke Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg (in Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

: Greve af Wisborg; 2 January 1895 – 17 September 1948) was a Swedish
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 diplomat
Diplomat
A diplomat is a person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization. The main functions of diplomats revolve around the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and...

 and nobleman noted for his negotiation of the release of about 31,000 prisoners from German concentration camps during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, including 450 Danish Jews from Theresienstadt released on 14 April 1945. In 1945, he received a German surrender offer from Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

, though the offer was ultimately rejected.

After the war, Bernadotte was unanimously chosen to be the United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 mediator in the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1947-1948. He was assassinated in Jerusalem in 1948 by the militant Zionist
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

 group Lehi
Lehi (group)
Lehi , commonly referred to in English as the Stern Group or Stern Gang, was a militant Zionist group founded by Avraham Stern in the British Mandate of Palestine...

 while pursuing his official duties. The decision to assassinate him was made by Natan Yellin-Mor, Yisrael Eldad  and Yitzhak Shamir
Yitzhak Shamir
' is a former Israeli politician, the seventh Prime Minister of Israel, in 1983–84 and 1986–92.-Biography:Icchak Jeziernicky was born in Ruzhany , Russian Empire . He studied at a Hebrew High School in Białystok, Poland. As a youth he joined Betar, the Revisionist Zionist youth movement...

, who was later to become Prime Minister of Israel
Prime Minister of Israel
The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of the Israeli government and the most powerful political figure in Israel . The prime minister is the country's chief executive. The official residence of the prime minister, Beit Rosh Hamemshala is in Jerusalem...

.

Early life


Folke Bernadotte was born in Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

 into the House of Bernadotte. He was the son of Count Oscar Bernadotte of Wisborg (formerly Prince Oscar of Sweden, Duke of Gotland
Gotland
Gotland is a county, province, municipality and diocese of Sweden; it is Sweden's largest island and the largest island in the Baltic Sea. At 3,140 square kilometers in area, the region makes up less than one percent of Sweden's total land area...

) and his wife Ebba Munck af Fulkila. Bernadotte's grandfather was King Oscar II of Sweden
Oscar II of Sweden
Oscar II , baptised Oscar Fredrik was King of Sweden from 1872 until his death and King of Norway from 1872 until 1905. The third son of King Oscar I of Sweden and Josephine of Leuchtenberg, he was a descendant of Gustav I of Sweden through his mother.-Early life:At his birth in Stockholm, Oscar...

.

Bernadotte attended school in Stockholm, after which he entered training to become a cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 officer
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

 at the Military Academy Karlberg. He took the officer's exam in 1915, and was commissioned a lieutenant
Löjtnant
Finnish Defence Forces rank of Luutnantti is comparable to Ranks of NATO armies officers as OF-1- Obtaining the rank in Finland :The Finnish army is bilingual; the rank is known in Swedish as löjtnant and Finnish as luutnantti....

 in 1918, subsequently moving up to the rank of major
Major (Sweden)
Finnish Defence Forces rank of Majuri is comparable to Ranks of NATO armies officers as OF-3- 1600 - 1700 :The original title was Sergeant Major, which means the most senior servant to the Överste....

.

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
1939 New York World's Fair
The 1939–40 New York World's Fair, which covered the of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park , was the second largest American world's fair of all time, exceeded only by St. Louis's Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904. Many countries around the world participated in it, and over 44 million people...

 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
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, 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.

World War II



While vice-president of the Swedish Red Cross
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is an international humanitarian movement with approximately 97 million volunteers, members and staff worldwide which was founded to protect human life and health, to ensure respect for all human beings, and to prevent and alleviate human...

 in 1945, Bernadotte attempted to negotiate an armistice
Armistice
An armistice is a situation in a war where the warring parties agree to stop fighting. It is not necessarily the end of a war, but may be just a cessation of hostilities while an attempt is made to negotiate a lasting peace...

 between Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and the Allies. He also led several rescue missions in Germany for the Red Cross. During the autumns of 1943 and 1944, he organized prisoner exchanges which brought home 11,000 prisoners from Germany via Sweden.

In April 1945, Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

 asked Bernadotte to convey a peace proposal to Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 and President Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

 without the knowledge of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

. The main point of the proposal was that Germany would only surrender to the Western Allies (Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

), but would be allowed to continue resisting the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. 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.

The White Buses



Upon the initiative of the Norwegian diplomat Niels Christian Ditleff
Niels Christian Ditleff
Niels Christian Ditleff was a Norwegian diplomat noted for his humanitarian efforts on behalf of refugees from Nazi Germany. In spite of opposition from his own and allied governments, he initiated and led the White Buses campaign to rescue Scandinavian prisoners held in German concentration camps...

 in the final months of the war, Bernadotte acted as the negotiator for a rescue operation transporting interned Norwegians
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

, Danes
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 and other western Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an inmates from German concentration camps to hospitals in Sweden.

In the spring of 1945, Bernadotte was in Germany when he met Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

, 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 May 1, 1945, the day after Hitler's death. Following an interview, the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet
Svenska Dagbladet
Svenska Dagbladet is a daily newspaper in Sweden. The first issue appeared on 18 December 1884. Svenska Dagbladet is published in Stockholm and provides coverage of national and international news as well as local coverage of the Greater Stockholm region...

 wrote that Bernadotte succeeded in rescuing 15,000 people from German concentration camps, including approximately 8000 Danes and Norwegians and 7000 women of French, Polish, Czech, British, American, Argentinian and Chinese nationalities. (SvD 2/5-45). The missions took approximately 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 (approximately 20 medics and the rest volunteer soldiers), 36 hospital buses, 19 trucks, 7 passenger cars, 7 motorcycles, a tow truck, a field kitchen, and full supplies for the entire trip, including food and gasoline, none of which were 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 to save approximately 10,000 additional people.

In total, around 31,000 people were taken to safety in the "White Buses
White Buses
"White Buses" refers to a program undertaken by the Swedish Red Cross and the Danish government in the spring of 1945 to rescue concentration camp inmates in areas under Nazi control and transport them to Sweden, a neutral country...

" of the Bernadotte expedition, including between 6,500 and 11,000 Jews.

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
Ravensbrück concentration camp
Ravensbrück was a notorious women's concentration camp during World War II, located in northern Germany, 90 km north of Berlin at a site near the village of Ravensbrück ....

.

Felix Kersten and the White Buses Controversy


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
Felix Kersten
Felix Kersten was before and during World War II the personal masseur of Heinrich Himmler...

, 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
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

 for thwarting a Nazi plan to deport the entire Dutch population, based primarily on Kersten's own claims to this effect. A later Dutch investigation 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
Barbara Amiel
Barbara Joan Estelle Amiel, Baroness Black of Crossharbour is a British-Canadian journalist, writer, and socialite. She is also the wife of former media baron and convicted felon Conrad Black.-Early life:...

 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
World Jewish Congress
The World Jewish Congress was founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in August 1936 as an international federation of Jewish communities and organizations...

 representative in Stockholm in 1945.

UN mediator


On 20 May 1948, Folke Bernadotte was appointed the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

' mediator in Palestine, the first official mediator in the UN's history. This was necessitated by the immediate violence
1947–1948 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine
The 1947–1948 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine lasted from 30 November 1947, the date of the United Nations vote in favour of the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the UN Partition Plan, to the termination of the British Mandate itself on 14 May 1948.This period constitutes the...

 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
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

 and laid the groundwork for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East is a relief and human development agency, providing education, health care, social services and emergency aid to 5 million Palestine refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, as well as in the West Bank and the Gaza...

. The specific proposals showed the influence of the previously responsible British government, and to a lesser extent the U.S. government.

First proposal


On 28 June 1948, Bernadotte submitted his first formal proposal in secret to the various parties. It suggested that Palestine and Transjordan be reformed as "a Union, comprising two Members, one Arab and one Jewish." He 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.

As far as the boundaries of the two Members were concerned, Bernadotte thought that the following "might be worthy of consideration."
  1. Inclusion of the whole or part of the Negev
    Negev
    The Negev is a desert and semidesert region of southern Israel. The Arabs, including the native Bedouin population of the region, refer to the desert as al-Naqab. The origin of the word Neghebh is from the Hebrew root denoting 'dry'...

     in Arab territory.
  2. Inclusion of the whole or part of Western Galilee in the Jewish territory.
  3. Inclusion of the City of Jerusalem in Arab territory, with municipal autonomy for the Jewish community and special arrangements for the protection of the Holy Places.
  4. Consideration of the status of Jaffa
    Jaffa
    Jaffa is an ancient port city believed to be one of the oldest in the world. Jaffa was incorporated with Tel Aviv creating the city of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel. Jaffa is famous for its association with the biblical story of the prophet Jonah.-Etymology:...

    .
  5. Establishment of a free port at Haifa
    Haifa
    Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

    , the area of the free port to include the refineries and terminals.
  6. Establishment of a free airport at Lydda
    Lod
    Lod is a city located on the Sharon Plain southeast of Tel Aviv in the Center District of Israel. At the end of 2010, it had a population of 70,000, roughly 75 percent Jewish and 25 percent Arab.The name is derived from the Biblical city of Lod...

    .

Second proposal


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 September 16, 1948, and had as its basis seven "basic premises" (verbatim):
  1. Peace must return to Palestine and every feasible measure should be taken to ensure that hostilities will not be resumed and that harmonious relations between Arab and Jew will ultimately be restored.
  2. A Jewish State called Israel exists in Palestine and there are no sound reasons for assuming that it will not continue to do so.
  3. The boundaries of this new State must finally be fixed either by formal agreement between the parties concerned or failing that, by the United Nations.
  4. Adherence to the principle of geographical homogeneity and integration, which should be the major objective of the boundary arrangements, should apply equally to Arab and Jewish territories, whose frontiers should not therefore, be rigidly controlled by the territorial arrangements envisaged in the resolution of 29 November.
  5. The right of innocent people, uprooted from their homes by the present terror and ravages of war, to return to their homes, should be affirmed and made effective, with assurance of adequate compensation for the property of those who may choose not to return.
  6. The City of Jerusalem, because of its religious and international significance and the complexity of interests involved, should be accorded special and separate treatment.
  7. International responsibility should be expressed where desirable and necessary in the form of international guarantees, as a means of allaying existing fears, and particularly with regard to boundaries and human rights.

The proposal then made specific suggestions that included (extracts):
  1. The existing indefinite truce should be superseded by a formal peace, or at the minimum, an armistice.
  2. The frontiers between the Arab and Jewish territories, in the absence of agreement between Arabs and Jews, should be established by the United Nations.
  3. The Negev should be defined as Arab territory.
  4. The frontier should run from Faluja north northeast to Ramleh and Lydda (both of which places would be in Arab territory).
  5. Galilee should be defined as Jewish territory.
  6. Haifa should be declared a free port, and Lydda airport should be declared a free airport.
  7. The City of Jerusalem, which should be understood as covering the area defined in the resolution of the General Assembly of 29 November, should be treated separately and should be placed under effective United Nations control with maximum feasible local autonomy for its Arab and Jewish communities with full safeguards for the protection of the Holy Places and sites and free access to them and for religious freedom.
  8. The United Nations should establish a Palestine conciliation commission.
  9. The right of the Arab refugees to return to their homes in Jewish-controlled territory at the earliest possible date should be affirmed by the United Nations, and their repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation, and payment of adequate compensation for the property of those choosing not to return, should be supervised and assisted by the United Nations conciliation commission.


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 was publicly exposed in October, only nine days before the U.S. presidential elections, causing U.S. President Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

 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
Ralph Bunche
Ralph Johnson Bunche or 1904December 9, 1971) was an American political scientist and diplomat who received the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize for his late 1940s mediation in Palestine. He was the first person of color to be so honored in the history of the Prize...

 was appointed to replace him. Bunche eventually negotiated a ceasefire, signed on the Greek island of Rhodes
Rhodes
Rhodes is an island in Greece, located in the eastern Aegean Sea. It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of both land area and population, with a population of 117,007, and also the island group's historical capital. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within...

. See 1949 Armistice Agreements
1949 Armistice Agreements
The 1949 Armistice Agreements are a set of agreements signed during 1949 between Israel and neighboring Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. The agreements ended the official hostilities of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and established armistice lines between Israeli forces and the forces in...

.

Reception


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."

Assassination



Bernadotte was assassinated on Friday 17 September 1948 by members of the Jewish nationalist Zionist group Lehi
Lehi (group)
Lehi , commonly referred to in English as the Stern Group or Stern Gang, was a militant Zionist group founded by Avraham Stern in the British Mandate of Palestine...

 (commonly known as the Stern Gang or Stern Group).

A three man 'center' of this extreme Jewish group had approved the killing: Yitzhak Yezernitsky (the future Prime Minister of Israel
Prime Minister of Israel
The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of the Israeli government and the most powerful political figure in Israel . The prime minister is the country's chief executive. The official residence of the prime minister, Beit Rosh Hamemshala is in Jerusalem...

 Yitzhak Shamir
Yitzhak Shamir
' is a former Israeli politician, the seventh Prime Minister of Israel, in 1983–84 and 1986–92.-Biography:Icchak Jeziernicky was born in Ruzhany , Russian Empire . He studied at a Hebrew High School in Białystok, Poland. As a youth he joined Betar, the Revisionist Zionist youth movement...

), 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
Yehoshua Zettler
Yehoshua Zettler was an Israeli who served as the Jerusalem commander of Jewish paramilitary group Lehi, often also called as the Stern gang...

. A four-man team ambushed Bernadotte's motorcade in Jerusalem's Katamon neighborhood. Two of them, Yitzhak Ben Moshe (Markovitz) and Avraham Steinberg, shot at the tires of the UN vehicles. A third, Yehoshua Cohen
Yehoshua Cohen
thumb|Yehoshua Cohen on the left, with David TovyahuYehoshua 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...

, opened the door of Bernadotte's car and shot him at close range. The bullets also hit a French officer who was sitting beside him, U.N. Observer Colonel André Serot. Both were killed. In the immediate confusion, Col. Serot was mistaken for Dr. Ralph Bunche, the American aide to Bernadotte. Meshulam Makover, the fourth accomplice, was the driver of the getaway car. General Åge Lundström
Åge Lundström
John Åge Lundström was a Swedish Air Force general and horse rider who competed in the 1920 Summer Olympics and in the 1924 Summer Olympics....

, 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."


The murders took place at Ben Zion Guini Square, off Hapalmah Street.

The following day the United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 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." After his death, Bernadotte's body was returned to Sweden, where the state funeral was attended by Abba Eban
Abba Eban
Abba Eban was an Israeli diplomat and politician.In his career he was Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister, Education Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and ambassador to the United States and to the United Nations...

 on behalf of Israel. Folke was survived by a widow and two sons, a 12 year old and a 17 year old. He was buried at the Northern Cemetery
Norra begravningsplatsen
Norra begravningsplatsen, literally "The Northern Cemetery" in Swedish, is a major cemetery of Metropolitan Stockholm. The cemetery is located in the municipality of Solna.Inaugurated on June 9, 1827, it is the burial site for a number of Swedish notables....

 in Stockholm.

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 currently 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.

Lehi was forcibly disarmed and many members were arrested, but nobody was charged with the killings. Yellin-Mor and another Lehi member, Schmuelevich, 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
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

. Years later, Cohen's role was uncovered by David Ben-Gurion
David Ben-Gurion
' was the first Prime Minister of Israel.Ben-Gurion's passion for Zionism, which began early in life, led him to become a major Zionist leader and Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization in 1946...

's biographer Michael Bar Zohar, while Cohen was working as Ben-Gurion's personal bodyguard
Bodyguard
A bodyguard is a type of security operative or government agent who protects a person—usually a famous, wealthy, or politically important figure—from assault, kidnapping, assassination, stalking, loss of confidential information, terrorist attack or other threats.Most important public figures such...

. 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
Statute of limitations
A statute of limitations is an enactment in a common law legal system that sets the maximum time after an event that legal proceedings based on that event may be initiated...

 for murder had expired in 1971.

The Swedish government believed that Bernadotte had been assassinated by Israeli government agents. They publicly attacked the inadequacy of the Israel 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 console Sweden such as the planting of a Bernadotte Forest by the JNF
Jewish National Fund
The Jewish National Fund was founded in 1901 to buy and develop land in Ottoman Palestine for Jewish settlement. The JNF is a quasi-governmental, non-profit organisation...

 in Israel. At a ceremony in Tel-Aviv in May 1995, attended by the Swedish deputy prime minister, Israeli Foreign Minister and Labor Party
Mapai
Mapai was a left-wing political party in Israel, and was the dominant force in Israeli politics until its merger into the Israeli Labor Party in 1968...

 member Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres
GCMG is the ninth President of the State of Israel. Peres served twice as the eighth Prime Minister of Israel and once as Interim Prime Minister, and has been a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years...

 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
Ralph Bunche
Ralph Johnson Bunche or 1904December 9, 1971) was an American political scientist and diplomat who received the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize for his late 1940s mediation in Palestine. He was the first person of color to be so honored in the history of the Prize...

, Bernadotte's American deputy, succeeded him as U.N. mediator. Bunche was ultimately successful in bringing about the signing of the 1949 Armistice Agreements
1949 Armistice Agreements
The 1949 Armistice Agreements are a set of agreements signed during 1949 between Israel and neighboring Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. The agreements ended the official hostilities of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and established armistice lines between Israeli forces and the forces in...

, for which he would later receive the Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

.

In 1998, Bernadotte was posthumously awarded one of the first three Dag Hammarskjöld Medal
Dag Hammarskjöld Medal
The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal is a posthumous award given by the United Nations to military personnel, police, or civilians who lose their lives while serving in a United Nations peacekeeping operation...

s, given to UN peacekeepers who are killed in the line of duty. The university library at Gustavus Adolphus College
Gustavus Adolphus College
Gustavus Adolphus College is a private liberal arts college affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America located in St. Peter, Minnesota, United States. A coeducational, four-year, residential institution, it was founded in 1862 by Swedish Americans. To this day the school is firmly...

 in St. Peter, Minnesota
St. Peter, Minnesota
St. Peter is a city in Nicollet County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 11,196 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Nicollet County.St...

 is named for him.

Ancestors, wife and descendants




On 1 December 1928 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, Folke Bernadotte married Estelle Romaine Manville (born in Pleasantville, New York
Pleasantville, New York
Pleasantville is a village in Westchester County, New York, United States. The population was 7,019 at the 2010 census. It is located in the town of Mount Pleasant. Pleasantville is home to a campus of Pace University and to the Jacob Burns Film Center...

, 26 September 1904; died in Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

, 28 May 1984), whose family had founded part of the Johns-Manville
Johns-Manville
Johns Manville is an American corporation based in Denver, Colorado that manufactures insulation, roofing materials, and engineered products. The stock was included in the Dow Jones Industrial Average from January 29, 1930 to August 27, 1982 when it was replaced by American Express. Berkshire...

 Corporation.
They had four sons, two of whom died in childhood, and seven grandchildren, all born after Folke's death. The older surviving son is also named Folke (born in Pleasantville in 1931), the younger one, Bertil Oscar (born in Stockholm in 1935).


In September 2008 it also became official that, before his 1928 marriage, Bernadotte had a daughter with the actress Lillie Ericson-Udde (Lillie Christina Ericson, 1892–1981):
  • Jeanne Birgitta Sofia Kristina Matthiessen, née Ericson (4 May 1921 to 17 May 1991)

later adopted by Carl G.W. Matthiessen (1886–1951), who married Lillie Ericson in 1925.

Folke Bernadotte's widow (the former Estelle Manville, 1904–1984) remarried at the Oscarskyrkan church in Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

 on 3 March 1973 to Karl Erik Sixten Ekstrand (1 November 1910 to 7 February 1988).

External links