House Adopts Measure Conferring Honorary Citizenship on Wallenberg; Signature of President Reagan is
Menu JTA Search

House Adopts Measure Conferring Honorary Citizenship on Wallenberg; Signature of President Reagan is

Download PDF for this date

Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat-businessman who was arrested by the Soviet Union after rescuing some 100,000 Hungarian Jews from the Nazis during World War II, today was only a Presidential signature away from becoming the second foreigner to be named an honorary citizen of the United States. The first was the late Sir Winston Churchill.

The House today adopted a resolution conferring honorary citizenship on Wallenberg by a vote of 396-2. The negative votes were cast by Reps. John Ashbrook (R. Ohio) and Henry Hyde (R. III.). The Senate adopted a similar resolution last Aug. 3.

Rep. Tom Lantos (D. Calif.) who led the move for Wallenberg noted the bipartisan support in Congress for it as well as the backing by President Reagan and Secretary of State Alexander Haig. He said this demonstrated that when it “comes to fundamental principles, the American people stand as one.”

Lantos said that both Reagan and Haig now have the “obligation” to raise the issue of Wallenberg’s whereabouts with the Soviet Union at the highest levels, as called for by the resolution. He said the Soviet Union has the obligation “if he (Wallenberg) is alive, to let him go, ” or if he is dead, to release the facts of what happened to him. Both Lantos and his wife, Annette, were among the Hungarian Jews rescued by Wallenberg. Mrs. Lantos is chairperson of the International Raoul Wallenberg Committee.

Other members of Congress who supported the resolution stressed that granting honorary citizenship to Wallenberg was not a precedent. They noted that Wallenberg went to Hungary to help rescue Jews there partly at the request of the U.S. government.

He was arrested when the Red Army entered Budapest in January, 1945. The Soviet Union claims he died in prison in 1947 but there have been eye-witnesses since then and in recent years who claim to have seen him alive.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund