LONDON (Jun. 7)
Premier Menachem Begin of Israel is expected to be asked to help solve the mystery of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who may still be imprisoned in the Soviet Union, 34 years after his abduction by the Red Army. Wallenberg’s close relatives are flying to Jerusalem this weekend following fruitless attempts by the Swedish government to reopen the case with the Russian authorities.
Wallenberg–who would now be 66– was kidnapped in Budapest, where he headed a team of Swedish diplomats who saved 30,000 Jews from deportation by the Nazis. Many of the survivors live in Israel. His half brother and half sister, Prof. Guy Von Dardel and Mrs. Nina Lagergren, decided to go to Jerusalem after hearing that Begin had privately expressed an interest in the case. In view of Israel’s influence in the human rights field, they will ask Begin’s help in putting the Wallenberg affair high on the list of urgent individual cases discussed in East-West contacts.
Several politicians in other Western countries have promised their support . Sen. Frank Church ( D. Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has urged the Kremlin to make a full disclosure of its files on Wallenberg. In Britain, Winston Churchill MP, grandson of the wartime Prime Minister, and Greville Janner MP, are organizing a Parliamentary committee to follow the case.
U.S. POSITION UNCLEAR
However, although U.S. Ambassador Arthur Goldberg is reported to have brought it up at the Belgrade sequel to the Helsinki Conference on Human Rights, U.S. government interest has been erratic.
At the end of 1973, the State Department was on the brink of ordering the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to inquire about Wallenberg. But at the last moment, Henry Kissinger, then Secretary of State, failed to authorize the move. Swedish press reports have attributed this to his anger over Sweden’s anti-American policy on Vietnam at that time. Other sources quote Kissinger as refusing to introduce individual human rights cases into East-West discussions.
The Carter Administration, however, has no such inhibitions, as seen in the recent swap of two Soviet spies for five leading Soviet dissident. Since further Soviet relaxations have been predicted prior to the Carter-Brezhnev summit in Vienna this summer, Wallenberg’s family feels that a campaign on his behalf is particularly timely.
A further reason for the visit to Israel is that much of the latest information on Wallenberg’s imprisonment comes from former Soviet prisoners, who have settled in Israel over the past few years Abraham Kalinski, who claims to have seen Wallenberg in prison long after the date when the Russians claim Wallenberg died, provided much of the evidence for the latest Swedish note to Moscow.
The latest information comes from the daughter of a Jew who is still in the Soviet Union. In 1976, Jan Kaplan telephoned his daughter, Anna Bilder, who lives in Jaffa. He had recently been released from the Butyrka prison and casually told her not to worry about his health because in the prison hospital, a year earlier, he had met a Swede who had been a prisoner for 30 years and whose health was not bad. The Swedish government eventually heard of Kaplan’s remark from other Soviet Jewish circles. However, news of it was published before the Swedish government could make direct contact with Kaplan. At the end of last year, Kaplan was rearrested by the Soviet police.