August 4, 2006

Fate of a hero


Sir, – It’s Raoul Wallenberg’s birthday today and over 60 years since his disappearance. Hasn’t the time finally come for his fate to be revealed? The ongoing ”100,000 Names for 100,000 Lives” campaign has already accumulated over 22,000 signatures in an effort to solve the mystery, and 425 pages of it have been presented to President Vladimir Putin, other world leaders and the UN.

Sixty-one years ago Wallenberg risked his life saving 100,000 lives from Nazi death camps, directly opposing Adolf Hitler’s extermination plans in Hungary. On January 17, 1945, he was seized by the Soviet Army, after which his whereabouts are unknown.

The official Soviet line has always been that he suffered a heart attack and died on July 17, 1947 – but there are reports of people meeting him up into the 1980s. There is evidence he may have been placed in a prison where numbers, not names, were used, or even in a mental institution. Moscow has denied access to KGB intelligence files.

In another campaign called ”Let’s bring Raoul home” leading personalities are writing directly to Putin for information on Wallenberg. So far the answer has been the same: Wallenberg died in the Soviet Union in 1947.

The Soviet Union is gone, and the truth is no longer a matter of Russian shame. President Putin holds the key. We that this will be the last Wallenberg birthday celebrated while he is still missing and his fate undetermined.

Int’l Raoul Wallenberg Foundation
New York