(photo credit: Courtesy)
With Raoul Wallenberg's 95th birthday due on Saturday, one man is still leading a search for the missing Swedish diplomat and recipient of Yad Vashem's "Righteous Among the Nations" award for saving Jews.
Max Grunberg is a founding member of the Raoul Wallenberg Honorary Citizen Committee, based in Ra'anana. Grunberg has pressed efforts toward "immediately clarifying the fate of Raoul Wallenberg" in recent letters to Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Grunberg demands that the EU, whose rotating presidency Germany held at the time he wrote the letters, implement a 1990 resolution calling on Russia to open archives to historians and work with the press to "launch a search... [in] the case of Mr. Raoul Wallenberg."
Of Wallenberg's birthday, Grunberg said, "I share the pain the family is going through, not having their loved one with them."
A Yad Vashem official said, "Of course it's important to find out if he is still alive. Raoul Wallenberg symbolizes man's humanity, the essence of the idea that man has the freedom to choose good in the face of evil and not to remain indifferent. Unfortunately, his whereabouts remains unknown and so the Jewish people still wait for the chance to personally express their gratitude due to this courageous man."
Wallenberg saved "tens of thousands" of lives of Hungarian Jews by issuing them with protective Swedish passports from his country's embassy in Budapest and by personally challenging Hungarian and German officials like Adolf Eichmann, according to Yad Vashem.
Wallenberg is the world's only person with three honorary citizenships - American, Canadian and Israeli - according to Grunberg.
Wallenberg was arrested by the Soviets in January, 1945. Under diplomatic pressure in 1957, the Soviet authorities claimed he had died of a heart attack a decade earlier in Moscow's Lubyanka Prison, but this assertion remains widely doubted.
In his letter to the UN, Grunberg quoted the current Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Bildt: "As long as the contrary has not been proved, we must assume that he may be alive."