JERUSALEM (Jun. 14)
Israel has officially asked President Carter to raise the case of the missing Swedish diplomat Rooul Wallenberg at his summit meeting with Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev in Vienna this weekend. Wallenberg, who is credited with saving some 25,000 Hungarian Jews from deportation to Nazi death camps-during World War II, was arrested by the Red Army in 1945 and has not been heard from since. Moscow claimed years ago that he died, but evidence has surfaced indicating that he may be alive in a Russian prison.
Premier Menachem Begin instructed Ambassador Ephraim Evron in Washington to convey Israel’s request to the White House. He also offered to participate in an Israeli committee set up to investigate Wallenberg’s fate. Carter left for Vienna this morning.
Wallenberg’s brother Guy Von Dardel and his sister, Nina Lagergen, came to Israel this week to seek assistance after a formal approach to the Kremlin by the Swedish government earlier this year drew no response. They appeared at a press conference here with Gideon Hausner, chairman of the Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial. Wallenberg was one of the first persons honored by the Yad Vashem, in 1960, as a “righteous gentile.”
NATURE OF NEW EVIDENCE
Wallenberg was sent to Budapest by the U.S. War Refugee Board and the World Jewish Congress during World War II with Swedish diplomatic credentials. His mission was known to the Swedish Foreign Ministry. At the risk of his life–he was the target of German assassination attempts–he rescued Jews from death camp transports and distributed food, clothing and medications to Jews straggling behind the transports and to others who managed to escape.
He was arrested a few days after the Red Army entered Budapest and was swallowed up in the “Gulag” system of Soviet prison camps. The exiled Soviet Nobel Laureate and dissident. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, contends that Wallenberg is still alive. His belief is supported by disparate evidence collected over the years by Jewish Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal of Vienna and other scholars. Solzhenitsyn visited Wallenberg’s family in Sweden shortly before his ouster from Russia and advised them to enlist the help of interested Jewish, organizations in a public campaign to establish the diplomat’s fate.
The Swedish government’s latest approach to Moscow was based on evidence by a Jewish prisoner in the USSR, Jan Kaplan. According to the American syndicated columnist Jack Anderson, Kaplan, who was released, told his daughter in Israel by telephone that during his prison term he had come across a Swede who had been incarcerated for 30 years. Kaplan was re-arrested shortly afterwards.