(JTA) — The family of Raoul Wallenberg asked Swedish authorities to declare him dead. The request was made Friday, Nov. 20, by the family of the Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust before disappearing. A “declaration of death is a way to deal with the trauma we lived through, to bring one phase to closure and move on. But it will not affect his presence in our lives nor the inspiration he is to us and to the world,” said a statement sent to the news agency AFP.
Wallenberg was posted to Nazi-occupied Hungary during World War II, where he issued protective passports to Jews in the final months of the Holocaust. He disappeared in 1945 after being seen surrounded by Soviet officers in Budapest. The Soviets later claimed Wallenberg had died of heart failure in prison. The diplomat’s parents both reportedly committed suicide in 1979 in despair over his disappearance. “The family has lived in hope and despair, hope that their efforts would bear fruit and Raoul would return, despair as their hopes were dashed again and again,” the family statement said. “We have now decided to lay Raoul to rest and are planning a memorial site.” Wallenberg would be 103 if he were alive today.