Mr. MOYNIHAN. Mr. President, I rise today to share with my colleagues a most informative article on Raoul Wallenberg, written by Eric Breindel and published in the New York Post on July 27, 1989.
Raoul Wallenberg, as my colleagues well know, performed heroic service as a young Swedish diplomat in Budapest during World War II. He saved many thousands of lives by issuing Swedish passports to Jews otherwise bound for Auschwitz. He was rewarded by the Soviets with arrest and disappearance into the Gulag.
Now, as Mr. Breindel details, the Soviets are beginning to reexamine this blot on their history. Moreover, in Budapest itself, there is new interest in Wallenberg's fate. I was in Hungary this past May and raised the issue with Hungarian Minister of Justice Kulcsar. Not 2 years ago such a query would have been dismissed. Not now. The Minister of Justice stated that the fate of Raoul Wallenberg required a `profound investigation.'
Mr. President, let that investigation proceed--it is long past due. I ask unanimous consent that the article by Mr. Breindel be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the article was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
Raoul Wallenberg would be 77 years old next week. As a young Swedish diplomat in Budapest during the Nazi occupation of Hungary, Wallenberg--heir to one of Sweden's great industrial fortunes--devoted himself to saving Jews: as many as possible.
He begged and he bribed. He issued, on his own authority, `protective passes' and passports--some valid, some worthless, save for the fact that they proved effective.
He went to the railroad station and took Jews off the Auschwitz-bound transports, claiming this or that protected status for them, staring down the SS and sparing those he rescued the ultimate fate of nearly 400,000 Hungarian Jews: death in the Auschwitz gas chambers.
No one knows just how many lives Wallenberg saved. Estimates range from 10,000 to 40,000.
But if one takes seriously the ancient rabbinic injunction that saving one life is akin to saving an entire world, Raoul Wallenberg saved many worlds. His own life, moreover, is ample testimony to the fact that--even in the most dire circumstances--one man can make a difference.
Wallenberg, as is now well known, was arrested by the Soviet secret police shortly after the Red Army entered Budapest. Once in Moscow's clutches, he disappeared, vanishing into the netherworld controlled by the Soviet secret police.
When I wrote about Wallenberg on his birthday last year, the Soviet position on his fate--notwithstanding glasnost--was the same as it had been for 30 years.
According to the Soviets, Wallenberg had been arrested in Budapest in 1945 on suspicion of espionage and had been taken to Moscow, where he'd died of natural causes in the Lubyanka prison two years later (at the age of 35).
So said then-Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko in 1957--after Nikita Khrushchev's `secret speech' on the crimes of Stalin--and so said Moscow in 1988.
Despite the inherent implausibility of this version of events; despite the many alleged sightings of Wallenberg in labor camps and in Soviet mental hospitals all through the 1960s and into the '70s; despite many historical revelations in other spheres, thanks to glasnost, and despite the intense interest of the Swedish and U.S. governments, the Soviets simply refused to fill out the story on Wallenberg.
But by last year, there seemed to be grounds for a degree of optimism--if not with respect to finding Wallenberg alive and securing his release, at least as to the prospect of learning just what happened to him.
And, in the last year, there has indeed been progress--`not the quantum leap we had hoped for,' says Rachel O. Haspel, president of the U.S. Wallenberg Committee, but `many small steps.'
For one thing, the Soviets have begun writing about Wallenberg in the popular press. In fact, a somewhat bizarre account of the `Wallenberg Affair' appeared recently in the most widely circulated Soviet English-language publication, the magazine New Times.
The article professed sympathy and admiration for Wallenberg, even while implying--without offering a shred of evidence to support the allegation--that he'd been involved with U.S. intelligence while in Budapest during the war.
It went on to conclude that he had indeed died in prison in 1947--just as Moscow claims.
Still, the New Times piece is noteworthy, if only for its assertion that the Ministry of State Security `committed a malfeasance by holding Wallenberg in prison and arbitrarily deciding his fate.'
It is also significant that the article (despite the suggestion that he was linked to the American OSS [Office of Strategic Services]) treats Wallenberg as a genuine anti-Nazi--as someone committed to collecting `all the evidence he could about the Hungarian Jews persecuted by the Nazis' and determined to rescue as many potential victims as possible.
This is a major step forward. So is the fact that, just last month, a senior Soviet legal official--even whole `confirming' Moscow's official position on Wallenberg--described `the death of this noble person' as a `dark page in our history.'
Meanwhile, also last month, the chief Soviet delegate at the Paris human rights conference seemed to leave the door a bit ajar even with respect to the question of Wallenberg's ultimate fate.
Yuri Kashlev, after condemning secret police head Lavrenti Beria and the others who `destroyed Wallenberg,' declared: `If by some magic some new information is obtained, we would certainly like to sanctify the memory of Wallenberg.'
Remarks like these--and the mere fact that Wallenberg is no longer a taboo subject in the Soviet media--offer grounds for limited optimism.
Moreover, the death earlier this year of Andrel Gromyko, the single individual most identified with the `official position' on Wallenberg, can only serve to heighten the possibility that new information will be forthcoming.
Even now, the Soviets seem interested in explaining what prompted Stalin and Beria to act against Wallenberg. A major article in U.S. News and World Report--based, in part, on Soviet sources--says Beria, in particular, was convinced of Wallenberg's involvement in negotiations between Nazi Germany and the Western Allies, talks allegedly aimed at concluding a separate peace in Europe.
There's no question that certain Soviet officials, during the last two years of the war, were obsessed with the fear that such negotiations were taking place. Thus, there's a certain plausibility to this interpretation.
And so, as Wallenberg's 77th birthday approaches, there is more reason than ever to be hopeful--if not for Wallenberg's return from captivity, at least for a full account of his fate.
In the interim our task remains the same--to remember and honor this rare individual, a beacon of light who appeared suddenly at mankind's darkest hour.