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Folke Bernadotte

Count Folke Bernadotte of Wisborg (January 2, 1895 - September 17, 1948), is noted for his negotiation for the release of prisoners from the German concentration camps in World War II.

He was the son of Oscar Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg (formerly Prince Oscar of Sweden) and his wife, née Ebba Henrietta Munck af Fulkila. Oscar, the son of King Oscar II of Sweden and Norway, married without the King's consent in 1888, thereby leaving the royal family, and was (in 1892) given the hereditary title Count of Wisborg by the Grand Duke Adolf of Luxemburg.

Bernadotte, while vice-president of the Swedish Red Cross in 1945, attempted to negotiate an armistice between Germany and the Allies. At the very end of the war he received Heinrich Himmler's offer, from April 24th, of Germany's complete surrender to Britain and the United States, provided Germany was allowed to continue resistance against Russia. The offer was passed on to Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Harry S. Truman.

Just before the end of World War II he gained much good will leading a rescue operation transporting interned Norwegians, Danes and other inmates from German Concentration Camps to hospitals in Sweden. In the "White Buses" of the Bernadotte-expedition 27,000 persons where liberated, a considerable share of them Jews.

On May 20, 1948, Folke Bernadotte was appointed the United Nations' mediator in Palestine. This made him the first official mediator in the history of the world organization. In this capacity, he succeeded in achieving a truce in the first Palestine war and laid the groundwork for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

He was assassinated, along with UN observer Colonel André Serot, on September 17th in Jerusalem by members of the Zionist extremist "Stern gang", also known as "Lehi".

Bernadotte's plan called for the right of Palestinian refugees to return. In particular he claimed that it was unreasonable that Jews with no previous connection with Palestine could enter the country, while Palestinians who had just been forced too flee could not return to their villages. This statement, and also his recommendation that Jerusalem should be placed under effective UN control, provoked immense anger within the Zionist leadership and is believed to have triggered the assassination.

See also: Folke Bernadotte Academy