August 4, 2006

Petition to Moscow seeking the opening of the files connected to the Wallenberg case


A ceremony will take place today on the 94th anniversary of the Swedish diplomat’s birth.

Wallenberg helped over 100 thousand Jews to escape the nazis. The soviet army captured him and from then on no one knew anything else about him.

A ceremony in commemoration of Raoul Wallenberg will take place this afternoon in the corner of Figueroa Alcorta and Austria, beside the ”Hero without a Gravestone”-monument in his honor. The tribute to the Swedish diplomat, who saved over 100 Jews from the nazis in Hungry during the brutal years of the Second World War, coincides with the 94th anniversary of his birth.

Some of the city’s Public Officials be present at the act organized by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF). The central speaker will be the Minister of Culture of the City, Silvia Farje, accompanied by Guillermo Nielsen-Chancellor of Public Finance, and Norberto La Porta-legislator. Other political figures like Patricia Bullrich and Ricardo López Murphy will assist, as well as the German and Swedish Ambassadors, among others.

The date also coincides with the day chosen by the IRWF to launch a global campaign seeking for support in its very special plea to Moscow. The petition asks for an opening of the files which would clarify the mystery of Wallenberg’s destiny, who was captured by the soviet army in January of 1945, together with his assistant Vimos Langfelder. Reportedly taken to Moscow after his imprisonment, he has been missing since then. To this day, the IRWF gained approximately 22,000 adherents to its cause: letters and signatures from renown intellectuals, presidents and Nobel Prices requesting the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, to reopen the investigation.

Baruj Tenembaum, president of the IRWF, said: ”We are asking Putin to set Wallenberg free if he is still alive (or to give us his remains if he is not) so that he can reunite with his family in Sweden. We are offering a closure to his ”missing status”. From the philosophical or moral point of view, making a human being go missing without giving him the opportunity to reach deep in his loved ones’ memory is even crueler than murder.”

Because Tenembaum is Argentinean, the country has become one of the most active in the movement to illuminate the obscurity surrounding Wallenberg’s fate, which is considered one of the many tragedies of the Cold War. No one knows what happened to him. Is he dead? In case he is, how? There have been stories about torture, execution and even poisoning according to American historian Susan Berger. There are also those who affirm that he lived pass 1947.

Wallenberg was not an ordinary diplomat. In 1944, only 32 years old, he was an officer from a renowned and respected family and with working experience in Hungary. It was there where, by recommendation of American functionaries, he began working in the Office for War Refugees- founded by Franklin Roosevelt to save Jews from the nazis.

The Swedish Chancellery helped Wallenberg by giving him a Swedish passport and designating him Ambassador in Budapest. Thus, between July and December of 1944, the diplomat saved over 100 thousand Jews from Hitler’s regime. He accomplished this titanic task by providing special passports or by negotiating with the nazis the liberation of victims in exchange for money.

According to historian Berger, March 11th 1947 is the last day on which records can be found of an alive Raoul Wallenberg. After that date he was called to be interrogated in the Lubinka prison- lodgings of the now extinguished soviet secret police. Berger affirms there is a possibility he was taken as a German or an ally’s spy, which would serve Moscow as a pressure instrument upon Occident.

Through letters sent from the Russian government to Tenembaum and to Wallenberg’s relatives now residing in Geneva and Stockholm, Putin’s administration insists on the fact that the Swedish diplomat passed away in 1947. The Kremlin also states that responsibility of the affaire only falls upon Josef Stalin’s regime.

A monument to the Saviors of the Holocaust facing the river

In agreement with the Government of Buenos Aires, the IRWF is planning to raise a monument in honor of the Saviors of the Holocaust. The chosen location would be the shore of ”Ciudad Universitaria”.

The names of approximately 20,000 people would be imprinted there. Theses would be the names of the saviors of thousands of people, more often than not Jews, that were being haunted by Hitler’s regime in Europe. Among the names in the list appear some very renown like Raoul Wallenberg and Oscar Schindler (the German businessman who saved many Jews from the nazis and whose story was immortalized by director Steven Spielberg in the movie ”Schindler’s List”).

Jorge Telerman, Governor of Buenos Aires, confirmed to this newspaper that the monument will be built in a 2,500m² terrain, near the Vega stream. Located in an area that was once known as the ”Villa Rosa” or ”Villa Gay”, the monument will be integrated with the ”Park of Memory”-a broader urbanization and recreation project.

Translation: Ileana Cheszes