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Saw Wallenberg 7 Weeks After He Disappeared, Woman Says

June 03, 1989|From Reuters

BUDAPEST, Hungary — A retired Hungarian translator has told how she was flown to the Soviet Union with Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg seven weeks after he disappeared from Budapest in early 1945, according to an interview published Friday.

Wallenberg, who would be 76 if still alive, saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from deportation by issuing them Swedish papers after Germany took over Hungary in 1944.

Though rumors persist that he is still alive in the Soviet Union, the last confirmed sighting of Wallenberg was on Jan. 17, 1945, in Budapest, in the company of a Soviet officer.

The Soviet Union has said Wallenberg died of a heart attack in prison in 1947, but Sweden and Jewish groups have never accepted this account.

The retired translator told Hungary's liberal daily Magyar Nemzet that she was arrested by the Soviet Union on suspicion of spying and flown out of Hungary in March that year.

"With us were two Russian officers, an old general . . . and Raoul Wallenberg," said the woman, identified at her own request only as Mrs. Istvan K. She said she had spent eight years in Soviet jails.

"We talked with each other. He told me he was Swedish and worked at the embassy and gave papers to many people which allowed them to escape," she said.

Asked if Wallenberg knew what awaited him, she said: "He did not expect anything good, because when the plane took off he said, 'Take a good look, because you will never see Hungary again.' "After several landings, on the fifth day we arrived in Moscow. The prison vans were already waiting for us. We were taken to the Lubyanka prison. That's where I saw him for the last time."

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