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August 26, 1983 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-08-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

4 .1
'
2 Ifiday,-August 26; 1983

DETROIT 1JEWISH NEWS

Purely Commentary

`Targets' ... in the Land
of the Free
and the Brave

West Hartford, Conn., was in itself a "target" — of the
sick minds who bombed the home of a rabbi, put two
synagogues on fire. In that sadly struck city a target
emerged on a community-wide basis. Jews commenting on
the occurrences were reluctant to give their names to the
press. They were advised by the police not to expose them-
selves to public notice, lest they be attacked by the sick-
minded who have found such pleasure in arson, in burning
synagogues.
It is inconceivable that such should be the condition of
American life in a very progressive community like West
Hartford. Since bigotry has no limits, this may not be sur-
prising. It isn't to those who believe that "it can happen
again," that "it can happen here."
Yet, a person with a sense of history can not despair,
and one with a sense of realism may not concede that by
speaking out he becomes a target of the bigots, the anti-
Semites, those who have no sense of American decency.
There is and no doubt will be a "speaking out" because
West Hartford, its communicative media, its religious
leaders, its officials and also the police with what may have
been unwise and untimely advice, will not be silent.
That's it — it's the silence that becomes criminal, and
there is seldom total silence when bigotry attempts to raise
its ugly head. •
An attack on a synagogue is a threat to the church as
well. A threat to a Jew is also a threat to his fellow citizen.
Therefore, there will surely be unity in a fine commu-
nity like West Hartford, and in the nation at large, with a
warning in the words of George Washington: to bigotry no
sanction.

The Vigilant .

There is a normalcy in the reactions to the West
Hartford outrages. The vigilant assert themselves. Anger
becomes a medium. Does it always serve the proper pur-
pose?
In outrageous incidents like the burning of
synagogues, often accompanied by burning crosses, the
first, the major, the unending obligation is for authorities

Targets in a Law Abiding Society and the
Commitment to Assure the Basic American
Principles of Common Decency and. Humanism

to act and to punish. People cannot take the law into their
own hands. Else, the chaos will encourage rather than
punish or end the crimes.
It is when authorities fail to act that there is the com-
pulsion to make demands and to assure commitment to
fulfillment of the decencies that are inherent in the basic
principles of Americanism and humanism. If this were ever
to be interrupted in this country, then there would be woe
upon all.

Targets Galore

Targets are innumerable in many spheres, and Jews
are frequently aimed at. They are not alone.
There is the Klaus Barbie case, and now the U.S. is the
target for attack. A Jewish spokesman even portrayed "a
skeleton in the American closet."
The former Wayne State University professor of Ger-
man Erhard Dabringhaus was among the first to expose
the U.S. guilt. Now he states that he could not have spoken
much sooner because he would have been a target for Nazi
and other threats to his very life.
Will "the skeleton" in this nation's share of guilt in
failing to punish the Nazi criminals drag the U.S. into
inhuman ranks? A Wall Street Journal editorial makes an
interesting comment on a situation which seems to have
demanded caution in dealing with the Communist threat
after the war. But it makes an especially important point to
indicate that in this country, at least, there is a readiness to
admit guilt while exposing a charged crime. It came too late
but it arrived. As the WSJournal indicates:

First of all, let's remember that preventing a
Communist takeover of France was a legitimate
and high postwar priority, not just of the U.S. but
also of a French patriot named Charles de Gaulle.
Drawing a picture of a ruthless and single-minded
American anti-Communist machine does not
really help us understand what happened to Bar-
bie. In other times and places, a man who began to
trouble the sleep of an intelligence outfit the way
Klaus Barbie did would soon find himself at the
bottom of a muddy lake. But no, these are Ameri-
cans; they don't dispose of this man, they escort

By Philip
Slomovitz

him to Bolivia and let him live to haunt them.
Some ruthlessness. Likewise, in other countries
they do not let prosecutors rummage through the
old secret papers exposing national error. But we
are Americans; we would be scandalized at a
cover-up.
Something else was at work in the Barbie
case. Our American officers may not have known
at first that their Klaus Barbie had sent innocents
off to death camps and tortured his adversaries.
In 1950, after the French made serious charges,
our people still did not comprehend them. They
still resisted understanding that they were deal-
ing with a reality here whose imperatives were
more powerful than those of their organizational
mission,
They were not alone in this. From the time
when stories of the Holocaust began to seep out of
Nazi Germany, the West ignored and delayed and
refused to believe. It has taken years of incessant
pounding by the incredible facts to force us to
absorb this event and the changes it has de-
manded in our political thinking. The Barbie es-
cape was one chapter in this book of tenacious
ignorance, but it was by no means the only one.
The test at hand is whether the French courts will go
all the way in the task of punishing the guilty and in the
process of exposing the crimes in which France and others
shared in guilt.
Meanwhile, it is good to know that guilt is not hidden.
There was worldwide guilt in the Holocaust. It is evident in
"Haven," (Coward McCann), the Ruth Gruber account of
the handful who were granted haven in this country on
condition they return to the hell they came from. Fortu-
nately, permanent haven was finally attained through the
good graces of Harry S Truman. There is evidence of the
guilt in "The Redemption of the Unwanted" (St. Martin's
Press) by Dr. Abram Sachar, who shows how the worldwide
anti-Semitism ignited the craving for haven in what was
then Palestine and which helped lead to the rebirth of the
state of Israel.
Such is the record of the unforgettable that often leads
to the unforgiving.

Wallenberg's Birthday Marked by Congressional Testimony

WASHINGTON (JTA) —
Raoul Wallenberg, the
Swedish diplomat who
saved thousands of Hunga-
rian Jews from the Nazis
during World War II, was 71
years old Aug. 2 if he is still
alive in the Soviet Union
where he has been impris-
oned for more than 38 years.
Belief that he is alive was
expressed by those testify-
ing in a hearing on Wallen-
berg held by the House
Foreign Relations Commit-
tee's Subcommittee on
Human Rights and Interna-
tional Organizations.
"I am more convinced
than ever that Raoul is still
alive," Sonia Sonnenfeld of
the Swedish Wallenberg
Committee declared. "On
his 71st birthday he still
suffers somewhere in the
Soviet Union waiting for us
to come for him: His only
hope lies with the United
States."
Rep. Tom Lantos (D-
Calif.), who introduced
the legislation which in
1981 made Wallenberg an
honorary citizen of the
U.S., said that despite the
Soviet claim that Wallen-
berg died in 1947, he was
known to be alive at least
through the mid-1970s.
He said that although the
hope that he is still alive
today "is waning," it is
still belieired that he may
be somewhere in a Soviet
prison.
Lantos, who was born in
Hungary, said that the
Soviet Union must either
"free Wallenberg or, at the
minimum give the "true

story" of what happened to
him.
Rep. Gus Yatron (D-Pa.),
chairman of the sub-
committee, said the Soviet
Union has up to now met all
inquiries about Wallenberg
"with silence. I hope we can
work toward shattering the
silence that surrounds the
Wallenberg matter."
Lantos, a member of the
subcommittee, said that
since President Reagan
signed the law making Wal-
lenberg the second person
since Winston Churchill to
achieve honorary U.S. citi-
zenship, one of the two
major goals, in the effort on
Wallenberg has been
achieved, keeping his name
alive.
He said across the
United States, schools,
museums, parks and
streets have been named
for the Swedish diplomat
who went to Hungary at
the request of the United
States and after helping
rescue Jews was arrested
by the Red Army when it
entered Budapest in
January 1945.
But the second goal of fre-
eing Wallenberg has not
been achieved. At the same
time, Lantos praised the
U.S. government and par-
ticularly Secretary of State
George Shultz and his pre-
decessor, Alexander Haig,
for doing all they could in
raising the issue at interna- -
tional meetings and at pri-
vate meetings with the
Soviet Union.
State Department Coun-
selor Edward Derwinski

.

stressed that the Wallen-
berg issue "will be raised
again in every forum" until
there is "full clarification of
. Wallenberg's fate." Lantos,
while praising the U.S. gov-
ernment effort, had harsh
words for the Swedish gov-
ernment. He said he was
"disappointed" that the
Swedish government had
missed a "unique historic
and God-given opportunity"
when they rejected his
suggestion that they not re-
lease the Soviet submarine
and crew Sweden captured
in 1981 until Wallenberg
was freed.

self on Wallenberg and "not
merely to Jewish groups."
Eilberg also urged mem-
bers of Congress to continue
to press the issue at every
conceivable moment.
Rachel Oestreicher Has-
pel, president of the Raoul
Wallenberg Committee of
the United States, in affilia-
tion with the Anti-
Defamation League of Bnai
Brith, also urged that all

branches of the U.S. gov-
ernment raise the issue of
Wallenberg with the
Soviets.

direct action and interven-
tion."
"Our children have few
heroes not created by
script writers," Mrs.
Haspel added. "If they
are going to survive, they
must all know that they
and others carry within
the same possibility for
kindness, selflessness
and courage that Raoul
Wallenberg showed.
Only because he is a
flesh-and-blood hero —
and because of his flesh,
vulnerable like all of us —
will our children know
they, too, are capable of
facing evil and danger
with courage."Former
Rep. Millicent Fenwick
called Wallenberg a "true
hero in the classic sense"
and said that the "val-
ues" that he represents
are needed more and
more today.
Another strategy was
argued by Morris Wolff, pro-
fessor of international law
at the Delaware Law
School, who has been asked
by the Wallenberg family to
file a suit in Wallenberg's
behalf in U.S. Federal
Court.

But Mrs. Haspel said that
she became interested in
the Wallenberg issue be-
cause she is "the mother of
two young children who are
growing up in what today
appears to be a wl-ry hostile
world." She said she was
"staggered by the enormity"
of what Wallenberg had
done because "I can think of
no other human being who
has saved 100,000 lives by a

He said he believes that
in arresting Wallenberg,
the Soviets violated his dip-
lomatic immunity and the
international protection he
had as a representative of
the U.S. government in
Hungary. Wallenberg had
gone to Hungary as a repre-
sentative of the U.S. War
Refugee Board. Wolff asked
the Congressmen to support
his efforts in the courts.

.

However, Sen. Claiborne
Pell (D-R.I.) did not agree
with the criticism of Sweden
although he did not explain.
But he did say the U.S. gov-
ernment should do more. So
did several other witnesses.
Joan Scarob, who
along with Lantos' wife,
Annette, is co-
chairperson of the Free
Wallenberg Committee,
said the House subcom-
mittee should keep
"pressure on both the
Soviet government" and
the U.S. government
"present and future" on
the Wallenberg case.
Former Rep. Joshua Eil-
berg, speaking for the Wal-
lenberg Committee of
Greater Philadelphia,
urged that the President
issue a directive that the
Wallenberg issue be raised
at every bilateral and mul-
tinational meeting with the
Soviet Union. He said that
Reagan himself should
speak out more often him-

RAOUL WALLENBERG

Among others testify-
ing were Mrs. Lantos,
who founded the Free
Wallenberg Committee
and who described the
early efforts to bring the
issue to the nation's at-
tention. Both she and her
husband were rescued by
Wallenberg.

Rep. Theodore Weiss
(D-N.Y.), another sub-
committee member, noted
that he was also born in
Hungary and some of his
relatives were the "real be-
neficiaries" of Wallenberg's
efforts. Another former
Hungarian Jew who tes-
tified was Agnus Adachi of
N . Y . , vice
Queens,
president of the U.S. Wal-
lenberg Committee.
Rep. Hamilton Fish (D-
N.Y.) noted that the confer-
ral of honorary citizenship
on Wallenberg symbolized
America's commitment as a
nation to remember the
Holocaust and vigilantly
guard against the possibil-
ity of a recurrence.
Lantos said that he is urg-
ing that an international
freedom award be estab-
lished in the name of Wal-
lenberg and Winston Chur-
chill to honor persons any-
where in the world who
have advanced the cause of
human rights.

Activists on behalf of
Wallenberg have tried for
several years to have the
former University of Michi-
gan student nominated for
the Nobel Prize for Peace.
Those efforts are believed to
be continuing.

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