Menu JTA Search

Swedish Government Again Presses USSR on the Wallenberg Case

The Swedish government has again taken up with the Soviet Union the case of missing diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, it was learned here.

Swedish sources say it was “raised firmly” during a recent visit to Moscow by Pierre Schorri, the chief undersecretary at the Swedish Foreign Office. But he elicited no change in the Soviet claim that Wallenberg, who rescued thousands of Jews in wartime Hungary, had perished in a Soviet jail two years after the war.

Sweden has massive evidence that Wallenberg, who would now be 70 years old, was alive many years after the date when Moscow says he died of a heart attack in the Lubyanka Prison.

This is the first time the case has been raised officially with the Soviet Union since Yuri Andropov, former head of the KGB, succeeded the late Leonid Brezhnev as chairman of the Soviet Communist Party. It is also the first official Swedish move on the case since Olof Palme’s Social Democratic Party look office in Stockholm last year.

The British Raoul Wallenberg Committee, welcoming the latest Swedish move, contrasted the Soviet detention of Wallenberg, “a hero of humanity,” with the liberty still enjoyed by many Nazi war criminals.

The Committee noted that Wallenberg was only a few months older than Klaus Barbie, the notorious Nazi “butcher of Lyon” recently deported from Bolivia to stand trial in France, and that he was still too young to be given up for dead.

DEVELOPMENTS IN BRITAIN, ISRAEL

In another development, it was disclosed here that the Israel government is planning to issue a postage stamp bearing Wallenberg’s portrait. The news was announced by Kay Mayer, a Danish Jew. who escaped to Sweden in 1943 and whom Wallenberg helped and befriended before leaving for Hungary on his mission of mercy.

In Britain, the campaign for Wallenberg is currently focussing on travelling exhibitions devoted to his exploits in Hungary, where he saved up to 100,000 Jews from the death camps.

The exhibition, which opened last October, has been seen by tens of thousands of people in London and the Midlands and will shortly feature at a major international arts festival in Brighton.

The Wallenberg case was first catapulted to international attention three years ago when Premier Menachem Begin of Israel called on U.S. President Carter to raise it at his Vienna summit meeting with Soviet President Brezhnev. The interest of the American Jewish community had already been triggered by persistent coverage of the case by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Since then, it has become a world wide cause celebre, leading to the publication of about 10 books in as many languages; a spate of television programs; and the naming of schools and streets after Wallenberg.

The culmination of the campaign was the decision of the U.S. Congress to make Wallenberg an honorary citizen of the U.S.; an honor conferred previously on Sir Winston Churchill.

NEXT STORY