Soviets Challenged on Its Explanation of Wallenberg’s Fate

A Hungarian magazine has challenged the Soviet Union’s official explanation of the fate of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat imprisoned in the USSR after saving tens of thousands of Jews in wartime Budapest.

The official Soviet line is that Wallenberg died in a Moscow prison in July, 1947, two years after being brought to the Soviet Union from the Hungarian capital. However, the Budapest historical review, Historia, published earlier this year, asserts that Wallenberg’s fate “has still not been cleared up” following his disappearance on January 17, 1945.

The statement is made in an article by Janor Poto, which investigates the equally curious story of a Budapest statue erected in Wallenberg’s honor in 1949 but which was removed mysteriously on the eve of its public unveiling on the banks of the Danube.

The statue showing a man killing a serpent reappeared many years later outside a penicillin factory in the city of Debrecen. It was stripped of its inscription about Wallenberg and now officially symbolizes the fight against disease.

According to Poto, two more casts of the same statue exist — one in Budapest and one in Jakarta, Indonesia. Both are erected outside medical establishments and there is nothing to suggest the reason why it was commissioned. Poto notes that the statue shared the same fate as its young inspirer and he describes as “most shocking” the way its identity was later altered.

TEXT OF ARTICLE GIVEN TO JTA

The text of the Historia article was translated by the Swedish Embassy in Budapest. It was given to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency by the Raoul Wallenberg Committee in Stockholm which continues to press the Soviet Union to free him or to give a credible account of his fate.

Wallenberg’s place in Jewish history will be discussed in the first week of July in Jerusalem at a meeting of the World Confederation of Hungarian Jews at which delegates from Budapest are expected to be present. The conference will coincide with the 40th anniversary of Wallenberg’s arrival in Budapest. If still alive, he would be 73 years old.

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