TORONTO (May. 27)
The B’nai B’rith’s League for Human Rights has launched a massive Canadian effort on behalf of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who helped save more than 100,000 Jews in Hungary during the Nazi occupation of that country and who was arrested by Soviet troops in January 1945 when then entered Budapest. The move by the League followed a meeting last week with Per Anger, a former Swedish Ambassador to Canada and a leader of The International Committee to Save Raoul Wallenberg.
Wallenberg arrived in Budapest, Hungary in 1944, as First Secretary of the Swedish Legation. His job was to save as many Jews as possible from the Nazis. Reportedly, over 100,000 Jews escaped the Holocaust as a result of his efforts. In January 1945, Red Army troops entered Budapest, and Wallenbeng was soon arrested by the Soviet military.
In reply to Swedish inquiries, in 1947, the Soviet government stated that Wallenberg was not in the Soviet Union and he was unknown to its authorities, contrary to earlier reports issued by the Soviet Minister in Stockholm to Wallenberg’s mother. To this day, numerous witnesses have testified to having seen Wallenberg in Soviet prisons.
Marvin Meretsky, national cochairman of the B’nai B’rith, told Anger that many people in Canada are concerned about the plight of Wallenberg, and their willingness and interest in creating a movement in Canada in his behalf. “As far as we are concerned,” Meretsky stated, “we must do everything possible to apply pressure to the Soviet Union to free Wallenberg.”
Anger said he believes that Wallenberg is still alive somewhere. He noted that “the next year is absolutely crucial. The important thing is to make as much noise as possible so that the Soviet government cannot possibly ignore the outcry.”
After the meeting, Alan Shefman, director of the B’nai B’rith, voiced the feelings of the entire delegation: “The inspiration of meeting such a man as Per Anger, probably the last Swede to see Wallenberg before his imprisonment, and Anger’s total dedication to seeing the successful conclusion of his efforts, motivates us all.”