Dear President Obama,
Next year, the world will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust in Hungary, and by January 2015, seventy years will have passed since Raoul Wallenberg disappeared into the Soviet Union, never to return.
Your official remarks last year and those of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s, in recognition of the 100th anniversary of Raoul Wallenberg’s birth, were unprecedented and deeply moving. Our family was also immensely honoured to accept the award of the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal on Raoul’s behalf.
The decision by President Reagan to grant Raoul Wallenberg honorary US citizenship in 1981 was the spark that allowed the story of his tireless efforts to save the Jews of Budapest in World War II to spread to new generations all around the world.
It is our sincere hope that the U.S. government and you personally will now once again lend much needed support to our continuing efforts to establish the full circumstances of Raoul Wallenberg’s fate.
It is time that the world finally learns what happened to him.
It would be tremendously helpful and important if U.S. diplomats would take up the question of Raoul’s disappearance more directly in formal discussions with Russian authorities. Such a step would have strong symbolic value, to show that the question of his fate continues to matter today, both as a fundamental human rights issue and as a matter of principle.
As recent research findings clearly indicate, this case can be solved and should be solved. True progress in the question is possible if scholars and researchers are finally empowered to do their job.
In particular, researchers need committed support in their efforts to obtain direct and uncensored access to Russian archival collections, especially those of the Soviet era intelligence and security services.
Russian authorities continue to stress that they are willing to assist inquiries in the Wallenberg case.
However, in reality, researchers have to wait six months or more for answers to a single request.
This is not conducive to an effective investigation and not consistent with the rules of transparency, scholarly standards and the provisions of Russian domestic law.
While it is important to do Raoul Wallenberg justice, there is also something bigger at stake: If the world can muster the will to solve the disappearance of a man who fought so hard for so many, then this would be an important gesture to underscore the value of the rights of human beings everywhere, be it in 1944 Hungary or, more recently, in Rwanda, Kosovo, Sudan and now in Syria.
It would be a fitting tribute to all those who risk their lives every day in the defence of civil liberties and to the millions of victims who, in spite of all efforts, could not be saved.
Matilda von Dardel (wife of late Guy von Dardel, half-brother of Raoul)
Nina Lagergren (half-sister of Raoul)