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Thursday, August 04, 2011

Raoul Wallenberg and Dan Cooper: New clues in two massive mysteries

Sixty-six years after he disappeared into the prisons of the Soviet Union, new information has been discovered about the fate of Raoul Wallenberg.

Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who became one of the most revered heroes of World War II. At the height of the Holocaust, Wallenberg was able to rescue and shelter tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews who would have otherwise been dispatched to the concentration camps. When the Soviets liberated Budapest early in 1945, Wallenberg was taken into custody by the Russians on suspicion of being a spy for the United States. His fate remains unknown to this day. The Soviets reported two years later that Wallenberg had died in his cell... but there are reports that he was seen alive as late as 1987.

Now two researchers who have studied the case for decades have announced that they have discovered old Soviet files pertaining to Raoul Wallenberg: files which the Russian government has long claimed did not exist.

Meanwhile, there may (or may not) be new developments in the mystery of one of the most celebrated criminals in American history...

It was Thanksgiving eve
Back in 1971
He had on a pair of sunglasses
There wasn't any sun
He used the name Dan Cooper
When he paid for the flight
That was going to Seattle
On that cold and nasty night

-- from "The Ballad of D.B. Cooper"
by Chuck Brodsky

This coming November will mark the fortieth anniversary of Dan Cooper's daring skyjacking of that Boeing 727 between Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. It was on the night before Thanksgiving in 1971 that a man calling himself "Dan Cooper" (often erroneously reported to be "D.B. Cooper") boarded the Northwest Orient Airlines flight, then claimed in mid-flight to have had a bomb. Upon landing Cooper demanded several parachutes and $200,000 in unmarked bills. The plane took off again and somewhere over the northwestern wilderness Cooper, laden with a parachute and the cash, jumped out of the plane into freezing rain and American legend. He was never seen again.

And now a woman has come forward with apparent evidence that Dan Cooper was her uncle. Federal investigators are looking into it.

The Dan Cooper mystery is something that I have been following since I was nine years old. Every few years it seems that there is a new development in the case. Personally, this is one mystery that I'd just as well prefer to see forever unsolved. Cooper never actually hurt anyone and his stunt... well, that took some serious brass ones to even conceive the plan for, never mind that he actually pulled it off, seemingly. Yeah he broke the law bigtime, but there aren't too many scoundrels that it can honestly be said were "heroic" in their misdeeds.

Dan Cooper... or whatever his real name might be... is one of them :-)