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August 31, 1990 - Image 68

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-08-31

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On September 1st
We'll Show You How

Soviets Agree To Probe
Of Wallenberg's Fate


September 1, 1990

8:45 a.m.

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Montreal (JTA) — After
four decades of maintaining
that Raoul Wallenberg died
in a Soviet prison in 1947,
the Soviet government has
agreed to cooperate with an
international panel inquir-
ing into the fate of the
legendary Swedish human-
itarian, who is credited with
saving the lives of tens of
thousands of Hungarian
The breakthrough was re-
ported by the chairman of
the international commis-
sion, McGill University Law
School Professor Irwin
Cotler, who spoke by tele-
phone from Jerusalem
before departing Sunday for
Soviet President Mikhail
Gorbachev "authorized for
the first time in Soviet histo-
ry the creation of a special
commission, including five
Soviet ministers and five
foreigners, to investigate the
case of Wallenberg," Mr.
Cotler told the Jewish Tele-
graphic Agency.
He said the panel was the
fruition of a request he had
personally made of Mr. Gor-
bachev when the Soviet
leader visited Canada in
The Soviet government in-
vited the panel to Moscow
and is paying all of its ex-
penses, Mr. Cotler said.
The commission, he said,
would be akin to that set up
to investigate the killings of
Polish army officers in the
Katyn forest in 1940. That
panel found the Soviet
Union guilty of the mass
killings, discarding Soviet
claims since the war that the
Nazis had perpetrated the
Other members of the
Wallenberg commission in-
clude Guy von Dardel, Mr.
Wallenberg's half-brother;
Conrad Lubarsky, a former
Soviet political prisoner now
living in West Germany; and
a representative of the
Swedish Foreign Ministry.
They will be joined by the
Soviet ministers or deputy
ministers of interior, justice,
foreign affairs and the KGB.
While in Moscow, mem-
bers of the commission plan
to begin their foray into per-
sonal accounts and whatever
material is available to trace
the days of Mr. Wallenberg
since he was last seen in
Budapest on Jan. 17, 1945.
They will be permitted to
interview witnesses, in-
cluding former prisoners,
and examine official docu-

ments relating to the case,
Mr. Cotler said.
He said the Soviets said
they would open archives
and files, including those of
the KGB, and would allow
the commission to visit Lu-
byanka and Chistopol
prisons, where Mr.
Wallenberg was reported to
have been held.
Raoul Wallenberg, a
Swedish diplomat,' is
credited with having saved
tens of thousands of
Hungarian Jews by pro-
viding them with Swedish
passports. He also personal-
ly took people off trains
bound for Auschwitz, saying
they were citizens of
Mr. Wallenberg reportedly
requested a personal

If alive, Mr.
Wallenberg would
have been 78
years old on Aug.

meeting with the com-
mander of Soviet troops who
had captured Budapest from
the Nazis. He was never
publicly seen again, but
there have been over the
years repeated sightings of a
"tall Swede" in various
Mr. Cotler claims there is
"incontrovertible evidence"
that Mr. Wallenberg was
alive after 1947 and through
the 1960s and 1970s.
Soviet authorities claimed
Mr. Wallenberg died of a
heart attack in Moscow's
Lubyanka prison in 1947,
when he was 35 years old.
Swedish authorities and
others have never accepted
that explanation and have
repeatedly pressed the
Soviets for more informa-
If alive, Mr. Wallenberg
would have been 78 years
old on Aug. 4.
Last year, the Soviets in-
vited members of
Wallenberg's family to the
Soviet Union to conduct
some rudimentary inquiries.
The family was given some
of Mr. Wallenberg's personal
effects. But the Soviet For-
eign Ministry maintained
that Mr. Wallenberg had
died in prison in 1947.
A Wallenberg symposium
held in June at Moscow Uni-
versity drew scant attention
and fewer than 50 par-
ticipants, despite attempts
to publicize it.

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