February 8, 2005

Swedish diplomat who saved thousands from nazis honoured


VIENNA, AUSTRIA (ANS) — Raoul Wallenberg, a Protestant diplomat from Sweden who saved tens of thousands of Jews and other persecuted people from the Nazis in Hungary during the Second World War, has been honored 60 years after his disappearance in Budapest. (Pictured: US stamp in honor of Raoul Wallenberg).

This news comes in a story released by the Spanish evangelical ACPress.net and sourced to La Nación, which said, ”Wallenberg, an unselfish benefactor, was kidnapped by the invading Soviets on January 17th, 1945. He was taken to the military headquarters of the Red Army to the east of Budapest and nothing more was heard of him. It is thought that he might have died later in Russia. (Pictured: Raoul Wallenberg).

”Wallenberg, a Protestant architect, was the son of a business family. He forged passports which the authorities accepted. He increased the number of Swedish safe-houses to 30, his country being neutral in the conflict. In this way, he managed to look after many refugees who would otherwise have been deported and executed.”

The story went on to say, ”Sixty years after his disappearance, the Wallenberg Foundation is launching an international campaign to collect 100,000 signatures. It intends to present a petition to the United Nations demanding an enquiry into what happened to the diplomat. They are calling on the Russian authorities to put an end to the tragic mystery and reveal what happened. A memorial to the diplomat in Vienna still has the date of his death with a question mark: ’4th August, 1912 – ?’, is how it reads.

”Many diplomats attended a memorial ceremony at which they called for the mystery to be cleared up. Similar acts are to be held in other cities. Survivors of the Nazi persecution who had been saved by Wallenberg laid a wreath on the monument honoring the diplomat. Laszlo Ladanyi recalled that he was 23 when he received a passport from Wallenberg. Today he is 83 and he still has the passport at his home in Buenos Aires, with profound gratitude for his benefactor.”

During the 1980′s, interest in Wallenberg grew around the world. In 1981, he became an honorary citizen of the United States, in 1985 in Canada, and in 1986 in Israel. All over the world, many people think he is still alive and demand that he be released from his Russian captivity. In Sweden and other countries — mainly the USA — Raoul Wallenberg associations work endlessly to find answers to what happened Raoul Wallenberg.

According to the Washington Post, in November 2000, Alexander Yakovlev, the head of a presidential commission investigating Wallenberg’s fate, announced that the diplomat had been executed in 1947 in the KGB’s Lubyanka Prison in Moscow. He said Vladimir Kryuchkov, the former Soviet secret police chief, told him of the shooting in a private conversation. The Russians released another statement in December admitting that Wallenberg was wrongfully arrested on espionage charges in 1945 and held in a Soviet prison for 2½ years until he died. The statement did not explain why Wallenberg was killed or why the government lied about his death for 55 years, claiming from 1957 to 1991 that he died of a heart attack while under Soviet protection.

On January 12, 2001, a joint Russian-Swedish panel released a report that did not reach any conclusion as to Wallenberg’s fate. The Russians reverted to the claim that he died of a heart attack in prison in 1947, while the Swede’s said they were not sure if Wallenberg was dead or alive. The report did unearth evidence that the reason the Soviets arrested Wallenberg was the suspicion that he was a spy for the United States.