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October 20, 1989 - Image 21

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-10-20

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

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Andrei Gromyko acknowl-
edged the diplomat had been
a Soviet prisoner.
Wallenberg, he announced
drily, had been held by the
NKVD, precursor of the
KGB, and had died in
Moscow's Lubyanka Prison
in July 1947. The cause of
death, he added, was
myocardial infarction.
Researchers at Lubyanka
have not been able to trace
the Wallenberg file, but they
have since claimed to have
uncovered the memo from
the prison's chief medical of-
ficer reporting the envoy's
death to General Viktor
Abakumov, minister of state
security, under whose
"special supervision"
Wallenberg had been held.
According to information
relayed unofficially to
Swedish diplomats from
their Soviet counterparts in
recent years, Wallenberg
probably did die on the date
specified, but they conceded
it was unlikely that a
healthy young man of 34
would have succumbed to a
heart attack.
A more likely cause of
death, they suggested, was a
bullet in the back of the neck
delivered by an officer of the
NKVD on the orders of
Abakumov, who, in the
paranoid world of Stalin's
Russia, might have
suspected Wallenberg of be-
ing a spy.
Like many other execu-
tions carried out under
Stalin, they added, the kill-
ing of Wallenberg was likely
to have been covered up by
the medical certificate in-
dicating that death had been
caused by a heart attack.
It is a bitter irony of
history that Abakumov,
himself a Jew, was executed
in 1955 on the orders of his
rival, Lavrenti Beria, the
ruthless head of Stalin's in-
telligence apparatus.
Despite the explanations,
however, few in the West
were inclined to believe
either the official or the
unofficial Soviet versions of
Wallenberg's death. Not
only are they skeptical about
the Soviet statements, many
remain convinced that
Wallenberg is, in fact, still
alive.
Their belief has been
heightened by Soviet claims
that in their tightly con-
trolled, highly bureaucratic
society, the official file on
Wallenberg had somehow
gone missing.
They also reasoned that if

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

21

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