WASHINGTON (Apr. 21)
More than 100 members of the House have signed a letter urging Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to free Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazis during World War II.
The letter, signed by 113 Congressmen, urged Gorbachev to release Wallenberg, who was arrested by the Red Army outside Budapest in January 1945, or provide a “full, complete and public accounting of his fate.”
“We believe he still lives and we urge that he be permitted to leave the Soviet Union,” said the letter which was mailed last week to the Soviet Embassy here for forwarding to Gorbachev. Rep. Tom Lantos (D. Cal.), who initiated the letter, said he felt this was a good time to make another effort at gaining Wallenberg’s release in view of the Soviet Union’s recent moves in increasing Jewish emigration and releasing political prisoners.
“We’re hopeful that the Soviet leaders will respond favorably on this issue as they have on a number of other human rights cases,” Lantos said. “The Wallenberg case would be a perfect opportunity to demonstrate the policy of glasnost” or openness.
The Soviets have long claimed that Wallenberg died in Lubyanka prison in 1947. However, there have been numerous reports from persons released from Soviet labor camps that they have seen a Swedish prisoner fitting Wallenberg’s description.
Lantos and his wife, Annette, both of whom were saved by Wallenberg in Hungary, have long led the effort to bring public attention to the Wallenberg case.
Lantos initiated the move in which Wallenberg was named an honorary citizen of the United States in 1981. A street in front of the planned U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has been named Wallenberg Place.