Harald Edelstam

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Harald Edelstam
Harald på balkongen.jpg
Harald Edelstam in 1946.
Sweden's Ambassador to Algeria
In office
1974–1979
Preceded by Jean-Jacques von Dardel
Succeeded by Stig Brattström
Sweden's Ambassador to Chile
In office
1972–1973
Preceded by Louis De Geer
Succeeded by vacant
Sweden's Ambassador to Guatemala
In office
1969–1972
Preceded by Arne Björnberg
Succeeded by Claës König
Sweden's Ambassador to Indonesia
In office
1966–1968
Preceded by Louis De Geer
Succeeded by Karl Henrik Andersson
Personal details
Born Gustav Harald Edelstam
(1913-03-17)March 17, 1913
Stockholm, Sweden
Died April 16, 1989(1989-04-16) (aged 76)
Stockholm, Sweden
Nationality Swedish
Spouse(s) Louise von Rosen (m. 1939–58)
Natascha Michéew (m. 1959–63)
Christine Colmain (m. 1981)
Children 3
Occupation Diplomat

Gustav Harald Edelstam (March 17, 1913 – April 16, 1989) was a Swedish diplomat. During World War II he earned the nickname Svarta nejlikan ("the Black Pimpernel," a reference to the Scarlet Pimpernel) for helping SOE agents and saboteurs escape from the Germans. During the early 1970s he was stationed in Santiago, Chile, and became known as the "Raoul Wallenberg of the 1970s" when he helped over 1,200 Chileans, hundreds of Cuban diplomats and civilians, and 67 Uruguayan and Bolivian refugees escape persecution by dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Early life[edit]

Edelstam was born in Stockholm, Sweden and was the son of chamberlain Fabian Edelstam and Hilma Dickinson.[1] He was the older brother of the ambassador Axel Edelstam and grandson of member of parliament Ernst Edelstam. Edelstam passed studentexamen in 1933 and earned a Candidate of Law degree in Stockholm in 1939 before becoming an employed as an attaché at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Stockholm the same year.[2]

Career[edit]

He served in Rome in 1939 and the Foreign Ministry in Stockholm in 1940, in Berlin in 1941, Oslo 1942 where Edelstam became acting Second Vice Consul in 1944.[2] As a diplomat in Nazi-occupied Norway, Edelstam saved the lives of hundreds of Jews and anti-Quisling freedom fighters.

He was acting Second Secretary at the Foreign Ministry in Stockholm in 1944 and was Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1946 to 1948. Edelstam was Second Secretary at the Foreign Ministry in Stockholm in 1946, acting First Secretary in 1948 and First Legation Secretary in The Hauge in 1949 and in Warsaw in 1952. He was then First Secretary at the Foreign Ministry in Stockholm in 1953 and acting Director there in 1956. In 1958 Edelstam was sent to Vienna as Embassy Counsellor and in 1962 to Istanbul as Consul General.[2] He stayed in Istanbul until 1965 and was thereafter ambassador in Jakarta, also accredited to Manila from 1966 to 1968. Edelstam was then sent to Central America where he was ambassador in Guatemala City, also accredited to Managua, San José, San Salvador and Tegucigalpa from 1969 to 1972. In 1972 he was sent to Santiago de Chile as ambassador.[1]

After the 1973 military coup against Chilean President Salvador Allende, the Cuban Embassy was under fire by tanks and Cubans were returning fire from the windows; Edelstam took a Swedish flag in hand and walked in front of the tanks as bullets hurled past. He fetched the Cubans out of the embassy and took them to the Swedish Embassy, then got them out of Chile to safety.[3] After the incident, the Cuban Embassy in Santiago de Chile remained under Swedish protecting power for 18 years.[4]

Edelstam also helped many other Cubans to escape from Chile and was honored by Fidel Castro as a hero. Due to his remarkable courage and moral integrity, Edelstam is today considered as a true modern-day hero among millions around Latin America, and particularly so among the hundreds of thousands of Chileans who were forced into exile by the dictatorial regime.

The Chilean military regime did not appreciate Edelstam’s engagement and declared him persona non grata in 1973.[4] Edelstam came back to Stockholm and was available for the Foreign Minister during 1974 before being sent as ambassador to Algiers[1] on the advice of Edelstam's greatest enemy, diplomat Wilhelm Wachtmeister.[4] He left the position and retired in 1979.[1]

Personal life[edit]

The grave of Harald Edelstam, September 11, 2010, at Eckerö church close to Stockholm. The celebration of him helping the Chilean and others to escape during the 1973 military coup.

He was married 1939-1958 to Countess Louise von Rosen (born 1918), the daughter of Count Hans von Rosen and Dagmar (née Wikström)[1] and 1959-1963 to Natascha Michéew.[2][5] Edelstam married a third time in 1981 with Christine Colmain.[1] In the marriage with von Rosen he had three sons: Carl (born 1941), Hans (born 1943) and Erik (born 1946).[2] Edelstam died from cancer in 1989.

Popular culture[edit]

A film about Edelstam's activities in Chile, The Black Pimpernel, was released in September 2007. He was portrayed by Michael Nyqvist.

Awards and decoration[edit]

Edelstam's awards:[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Vem är det: svensk biografisk handbok. 1985 [Who is it: Swedish biographical handbook. 1985] (in Swedish). Stockholm: Norstedt. 1984. p. 252. ISBN 91-1-843222-0. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Harnesk, Paul, ed. (1962). Vem är vem? 1, Stor-Stockholm [Who is who? 1, Greater Stockholm] (in Swedish) (2nd ed.). Stockholm: Vem är vem. p. 299. 
  3. ^ "Joan Baez: Human Rights In The 80s: Seeing Through Both Eyes". Commonwealth Club of California. [not in citation given]
  4. ^ a b c Johnsson, Fredrik (13 April 2008). "Harald Edelstam" (MP3). P3 Dokumentär (in Swedish). Sveriges Radio. Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  5. ^ Granath, Jan. "Gustaf Harald* Edelstam". www.gw.geneanet.org (in Swedish). Geneanet. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Edelstam, Erik H. (2013). Janusansiktet: berättelsen om diplomaten Harald Edelstams liv och tid [The Janus Face: the story of diplomat Harald Edelstam's life and time] (in Swedish). Stockholm: Carlsson. ISBN 9789173315968. LIBRIS 13993674. 
  • Fors, Mats (2009). Svarta nejlikan: Harald Edelstam - en berättelse om mod, humanitet och passion [The Black Pimpernel: Harald Edelstam - a story of courage, humanity and passion] (in Swedish). Stockholm: Prisma. ISBN 978-91-518-5261-4. LIBRIS 11206954. 
  • Perotti, Germán; Sandquist, Jan (2013). Harald Edelstam: héroe del humanismo, defensor de la vida [Harald Edelstam: humanism hero, defender of life] (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Santiago: LOM. ISBN 9789560004116. LIBRIS 16235396. 
  • Perotti, Germán; Sandquist, Jan (2011). Harald Edelstam: la vida por sobre todo : ensayo biográfico [Harald Edelstam: life above all : biographical essay] (in Spanish). Stockholm: Ediciones Taller Estocolmo. ISBN 978-91-979451-1-0. LIBRIS 12277403. 

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Bo Alander
Consulate general of Sweden in Istanbul
1962–1965
Succeeded by
?
Preceded by
Louis De Geer
Ambassador of Sweden to Indonesia
1966–1968
Succeeded by
Karl Henrik Andersson
Preceded by
Arne Björnberg
Ambassador of Sweden to Guatemala
1969–1972
Succeeded by
Claës König
Preceded by
?
Ambassador of Sweden to Nicaragua
1969–1972
Succeeded by
?
Preceded by
?
Ambassador of Sweden to Costa Rica
1969–1972
Succeeded by
?
Preceded by
?
Ambassador of Sweden to El Salvador
1969–1972
Succeeded by
?
Preceded by
?
Ambassador of Sweden to Honduras
1969–1972
Succeeded by
?
Preceded by
Louis De Geer
Ambassador of Sweden to Chile
1972–1973
Succeeded by
Carl-Johan Groth
Preceded by
Jean-Jacques von Dardel
Ambassador of Sweden to Algeria
1974–1979
Succeeded by
Stig Brattström