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June 20, 1975 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1975-06-20

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2 Friday, June 20, 1975






Purely Commentary

Raoul Wallenberg: Is Solzhenitsyn
Message One of Hope that He Lives?

Raoul Wallenberg may be alive, suffering in a Russian
This, at least, may be inferred from a message by Alek-
sandr Solzhenitsyn, who was interviewed during his visit to
Sweden by a correspondent of "Russian Thought."
That her son is alive has remained the contention of
Raoul's mother with whom Solzhenitsyn met and discussed
the case of the famous hero who rescued many Jews. In the
interview with Solzhenitsyn,
which was reprinted in Na-
tional Review in a translation
from the Russian by Albert
and Tanya Schmidt, the num-
ber of Jews Wallenberg had
rescued in Hungary in the
last years of the Nazi occupa-
tion of Hungary is given as
20,000. Some have credited
him with rescuing as many as
50,000 to 70,000.
The Swedish interviewer
asked Solzhenitsyn about
Raoul Wallenberg. It is evi-
dent that Wallenberg's role as
a rescuer • of Jews from the
—AP Wirephoto
Nazis is not forgotten in his
native Sweden. There has
been no pressure upon the
USSR to ascertain his wher-
eabouts because involve-
ments with the Soviet Union
are being avoided diplomati-
cally. Because of the great
concern in the Wallenberg
case, the Swedish interview
merits widest circulation to
inspire renewed interest in
the fate of Wallenberg. Sol-
zhenitsyn thus recapitulates
the story of Wallenberg:
Q. What can you say about
the fate of Raoul Wallenberg?
Did you hear about him when
you were in tie camps?
A: No, I heard nothing of him when I was a prisoner, or
for many years after that. This just shows how vast is the
Gulag Archipelago, and how many hidden places it con-
tains. There are many such secret places, where prisoners
are isolated forever, where no word ever trickles out, so that
no one will know about these people.
I happened to meet another Scandinavian who called
himself Erik Arvid Andersen. When I tried to find out
something about him here in Sweden, and to learn who his
relatives are, I came across the Wallenberg story.
Yesterday I saw Wallenberg's mother. It was heartbreak-
ing to see this old lady, who has been waiting for her son for
29 years. Please weigh and consider the full meaning of
what I am saying — 29 years! Wallenberg was arrested at
almost the same time as I was. I served my entire sentence,
both imprisonment and exile, was set free for a number of
years, as you know from my published writings . . . But
this man has been in prison for 29 years and is still there
today! Nor is he the only one like that in the Soviet Union.
Many who were sentenced to 25 years at the end of the war
are still in confinement. Some have been imprisoned since
194 7 or since 1939, and their sentences are even extended.
A whole epoch has passed since that time. People whose
arrest somewhere in Africa was written about by leaders of
national movements have long since been freed, have be-
come presidents of their countries, have been running their
governments for decades, have left office or been. over-
thrown . . . Generation after generation has been written
up in the press: so-and-so is in prison, so-and-so is being
tormented . . . They have all long since been liberated, but
our people are still in prison.
Wallenberg's mother has information on who was in
prison with her son, and when. I do not for a minute dqubt
the authenticity of her data. In the Gulag Archipelago, if a.
man said he was in prison with someone else, that is the
truth. Fourteen witnesses are listed here, and it is evident
that he has been kept in secret confinement, but occasion-
ally someone or other saw him briefly and this is how the
information seeped out.
But here is the difference: if a man is arrested in. the West
or in the Third World, it is open knowledge in what prison
he is held and how he is being treated. We can even see him
photographed behind the bars, this is often permitted. But
Wallenberg is in a Soviet prison, so all we have is this kind
of indirect testimony from people, some of whom conceal
their identity either because they are still in Eastern Eu-
rope or because they have relatives there . . And so, since
they are all so well hidden in Russia, since prisoner's are so
well concealed and kept incommunicado, no one tries to free
them; I have heard that your Prime Minister (Olaf Pointe)
considers that there is too little information to justify spoil-

Raoul Wallenberg, the Great Hero of the World War II Res-
cue Movement .
Solzhenitsyn's Interest and Mother's Con-
fidence He Survives .. . Rabbi Glasner's Recollections

ing relations with the Soviet Union on account of Wallen-
Here in Sweden I have been told of other cases — the
disappearance of Swedish sailors and fishermen in the Bal-
tic Sea during the immediate postwar period. They van-
ished silently, without a trace, apparently into the Soviet
Union, and no one tries to defend them or get them out.
Western governments as much as say: lock them up tigh t
and keep them out of sight; we will liberate anyone who is
not securely held, but if you have a good grip on their
throats, go ahead and throttle them, we're not going to free
Now here is an amazing story. Wallenberg's mother is
currently in correspondence with a certain. Yefim Mash in-
sky, the former KGB captain who arrested Wallenberg.
Now in Israel, he tells of what a nice man Wallenberg was,
the man he was ordered to arrest. Ordered toD.rrest a Swed-
ish diplomat! Well, all right. The State Security captain
sum mon.ed him amicably from the Embassy, drove off with
him in hig car. then arrested him. Wallenberg was then sent
from one Soviet secret prison to the next.
In order to avoid trouble over Wallenberg, Soviet authori-
ties falsified the records as follows: a certificate was al-
legedly found at the Lubyanka prison in 1957 stating that
he had died in 1947, and they tried to close the case in this
fashion. •
However, much of the information in the possession of
Wallenberg's mother dates from later, and even very recent
times . . . from fellow prisoners who said he was still alive
in 1970. He is now 62 years old. We must hurry, hurry to
have him, released. What is needed for that is a powerful
public opinion movement able to force your government
and other governments to save this man. And here I think
that Jewish world opinion could be very helpful. Here is
why I say this: you probably know that Wallenberg, as an
official of the Swedish embassy in Budapest, rescued Jews
from death by getting them out to the West. According to
the data, he saved over 20,000 Jews in this manner, and I
think that Jewish public opinion, which has been so effec-
tive in defending Jewish people in the Soviet Union impris-
oned for one, three, or five years, could come out strongly
for Wallenberg and save him.
How interesting, that Solzhenitsyn should suggest Jew-
ish activism in Raoul's behalf!
The case has not been forgotten. Wallenberg, a. graduate
from the University of Michigan College of Architecture, is
honored annually through the Wallenberg Architectural
Lectures in Ann Arbor. But there has been little pressure
on Russia in recent years to ascertain the fate of the liber-
tarian. Perhaps Solzhenitsyn has inspired renewed activity
for truth in the case of a great humanitarian who is mar-
tyred in Russia.

Sakharov on Need for Protests

Solzhenitsyn's view on a need for protests and interces-
sions by world Jewish organizations in the Raoul Wallen-
berg matter renews consideration of the value of the voices
raised by libertarians in defense of social and political jus-
tice of the oppressed in foreign lands.
Jewish protests against discriminations in Czarist and
later in Soviet Russia date back several decades. Now such
protests gain validity and forcefulness from the support
provided by dissidents who are demanding changes in the
Russian social and political structures.

Andrei Sakharov, one of Russia's most eminent aca-
demicians and one of the world's most distinguished scien-
tists, unable to attend a conference called by the Research
Center of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, sent a
lengthy message to the American sponsors of the confer-
ence. He reiterated his firm stand on justice to the Jew and
his right to emigrate, emphasized the justice of the demand
by Soviet Jews to leave for settlement in Israel and advised
continued American protests against the prevailing condi-
tions in Russia.
The right of protest and to change domiciles is consist-
ently emphasized by Sakharov and his associates. They
remain basic human rights among all nations.
Additional Testimony:
Wallenberg's Heroism

Periodically, new evidence is offered to revive interest
in the Raoul Wallenberg chapter of World War II. Among
the latest, additional to the Aleksandr Solzhenitzyn com-
ments, is the dramatic story of the experiences of Rabbi
Juda Glasner.
Rabbi Glasner, in an impressive account of his experi-
ences and his tasks in assisting sufferers from Nazism in
Hungary, detailed in his hook, "Faith in Spite of All,"
(Vantage Press) many references to Wallenberg.
It was in Cluj, the Transylvanian capital, that Rabbi
Glasner served. He was witness to the Nazi horrors during
the war, when he was separated from his family and was
among those who escaped death miraculously.
He was active for several years after the war in tasks
to assist in the rehabilitation of Jews who escaped to
Sweden, and in that capacity he befriended the late Count
Folke Bernadotte, then head of the Red Cross. In the proc-
ess, the two labored in rescue efforts through the Red
Cross, in the era prior to Bernadotte's having assumed a
United Nations role in pre-Israel Palestine. Bernadotte,
who was murdered while pursuing his task in behalf of the
UN, is highly lauded by Rabbi Glasner.
His faith helped Rabbi Glasner overcome the many ob-
stacles in a path of suffering as a witness to the Hitler
crimes, and he glories in a faith that brought rehabilitation,
reunion with his family and resumption of his religious
Inevitably, in his description of the experiences during
the war, and in his account of the rescue efforts by Raoul
Wallenberg as a volunteer member of the Swedish legation
in Budapest, Rabbi Glasner relates many of the incidents of
courage; how Wallenberg confronted the Nazi leaders while
they were escorting Jews for transportation to death camps
and secured their release. The Glasner story mentions Wal-
lenberg's arrest by the Russians for unaccountable reasons,
and the only factor accountable for the cruelty is that Wal-
lenberg had insisted on providing a record of Jewish prop-
erty to be retained for the rightful owners and the Russians
had resisted such meticulousness while they were the
Rabbi Juda Glasner's "Faith in Spite of All" is a record
of faith in the triumph of justice, as it did in the personal
instance of the reminiscences recorded in this new account
of a World War II experience. At the same time it serves as
a reminder of the tragedy that marked the life of a hero of
the last war. As in other similar recapitulations of the 'Wal-
lenberg story, Glasner's is an admonition that Wallenberg
may be alive. Perhaps renewed pressures will compel a
truthful account about him from the Kremlin.

Rise in Converts to Judaism Seen

A California Reform
rabbi who is active in efforts
to convert non-Jews to Juda-
ism has estimated that at
current rates of conversion,
between 100,000 and 150,000
Jewish families in the
United States in the next 20
years will have a convert as
husband or wife.
Rabbi Allen S. Maller,
writing in Davka, the quar-
terly student journal pub-
lished by the Hillel Council
at the University of Califor-
nia at Los Angeles, noted
the widespread concern over
the growing rate of mixed
marriages. But, he declared,
"another statistic of even
greater significance has
been almost entirely ig-
nored. The number and per-
centage of mitzva marriages
has been growing even more
rapidly than that of mixed

He said that by mitzva
marriages he meant those in
which the non-Jewish
spouse converts to Judaism
which he said was a mitzva
for three reasons, one being
that "the loyalty and dedica-
tion of the Jewish partner
was strong enough to influ-
ence the non-Jew to become

The second reason, he
asserted, was that "the
very high divorce rate in
Jewish-Gentile marriages
is substantially reduced by
the unification of the fami-
ly's identity."

The third reason, he as-
serted was that unlike
mixed marriages, "where
only 15 to 20 percent of the
children receive any Jewish
education, in mitzva mar-
riages almost all the chil-
dren are given a Jewish edu-
cation and the average level

By Philip

of involvement of converts to
Judaism and their children
is higher than that of a ma-
jority of Jews."
In discussing the possibil-
ity of a split in the Jewish
people developing from re-
jection by Jews of converts
and would-be converts,
Rabbi Maller asserted that
"the vast majority" of Or-
thodox rabbis "are still
guided by the legal and in-
tellectual norms of the me-
dieval ghetto" and therefore
will not accept a convert
"who is planning to marry a
Jew." He contended that
"this is one of the best rea-
sons for a Gentile to con-
He charged that the re-
fusal to accept a convert as
Jewish because the rabbi
who performed the conver-
sion was not Orthodox, even
if the procedure was accord-


(Copyright 1975, JTA, Inc.)

ing to Halakha, Jewish reli-
gious law, "is a political and
not a religious position."

Rabbi Maller contended
"it is too simple" to say
that an individual con-
verts "just for the sake of
marriage." Currently, he
declared, three-quarters of
all Jewish-Gentile mar-
riages are mixed mar-
riaggs in which neither
party converts. He as-
serted that it was clear
that "the 25 percent of
Jewish-Gentile romances
that result in a mitzva
marriage" do not happen
"just for the sake of mar-

If the Jewish people are to
remain strong "in the Dias-
pora, conversion to Judaism
must be strongly encour-
aged," he said.

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