Information disclosed last week suggesting that Soviet authorities may have interrogated Raoul Wallenberg six days after his reported execution in 1947 has revived the search to learn the heroic Swedish diplomat’s fate.
“If that information is true, it’s a miracle,” said Rachel Oestreicher Bernheim, chairman emeritus of the Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States. “We have never given up finding out what happened to him. We have never put a nail in Wallenberg’s coffin.”
If he were alive today, Wallenberg, who used his office to help Jews escape the Nazis, would be turning 100 on Aug. 4, 2012.”
“Our hope,” Bernheim added, “is to find out the full truth and return his remains to Sweden while his half-sister is still alive.”
Diane Blake, director of research and archives for the Wallenberg Committee, said she has never wavered in her pursuit of information on Wallenberg’s fate.
“Hopefully the truth will come out once it is established that the date the Russians stuck to for so long is not true, and we can put an end to this horror while his sister is still alive,” she added.
Blake said the American researcher who cast doubt on the Soviet story, Susanne Berger, called her last week after she released what she had learned to the media. That information comes from Russian security officials who informed her last November that archival records indicate that a man identified only as Prisoner No. 7 was interrogated July 23, 1947, by Soviet authorities and that there is “great likelihood” the man was Wallenberg.
Berger is part of a research team that conducted a 10-year investigation into Wallenberg’s fate. She wrote in a letter in which she shared the Russian findings that if further investigation proves this information correct, “the news is the most interesting to come out of Russian archives in over 50 years.”
“I never believed he died in 1947,” said Blake. “I always worry when I tell the story of Wallenberg that children will say, `He was so brave and nobody knows what happened to him.’ That can deter someone [from doing good]. It’s important that the truth come out and that everything that can be done for him be done.”
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