While reading this story about Giovanni Palatucci, an Italian Righteous Gentile who with the help of the Catholic Church saved thousands of Jews from the Nazis and who himself was murdered in Dachau, my thoughts turned to the sad case of Raul Wallenberg, the courageous Swedish Righteous Gentile who saved thousands of Jews from Hitler, y"s, only to be taken prisoner by the Russians, never to be heard from again.
Mr. Wallenberg's family still holds out hope that the Russians will finally explain Mr. Wallenberg's disappearance. Indeed, Israel has again pledged to move the issue of Mr. Wallenberg's return to the front-burner of Israel-Russian relations.
Chabad-Lubavitch over the years has devoted considerable time, effort and dollars to the return of other Russian 'prisioners' – the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe's library.
Mostly composed of non-religious books like Danté's Inferno, the fate of the library has been of prime importance to Chabad since 1940. The 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe even went so far as to urge his followers to lobby the US Government to save the books.
When did he do this?
During his rescue from the Nazi's, as he reached the safety of non-Nazi controlled territory and waited for a ship to bring him to America.
Before being rescued, Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson saw roundups, shootings in the streets, Jews with yellow stars, murder, disease, bombing and mayhem everywhere.
But Yosef Yitzhchak Schneersohn did not lobby to save Jews – he lobbied to save books.
In his speech on that solemn ground, Mr. Putin failed to mention the 1.6 million Jews who were murdered in that hell and on whose ashes Mr. Putin and Rabbi Lazar were standing.
Chabad has not given up Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn's fight to save his 'prisoners.' The issue of the 'Chabad Library' is regularly brought up by US State Department Officials and diplomats from around the world, all at the behest of Chabad. Indeed, Rabbi Lazar himself has raised the issue with his patron Mr. Putin. Over the years parts of the library have been returned to Chabad and are now housed in Brooklyn.
But, just as Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn valued the safety of his library over the safety of human beings, Chabad to this day does the same.
Raul Wallenberg saved thousands of Jews from the fires of Auschwitz. Mr. Putin, a former high-ranking KGB official, holds the key to the mystery of Mr. Wallenberg's fate.
But in the finest Chabad tradition, Mr. Wallenberg is not on their agenda.
If Mr. Wallenberg had been a copy of Gulliver's Travels instead of a man who save thousands of Jews, he would very likely be living out the rest of his life on a library shelf in Brooklyn.
Instead, if still alive, he languishes in a Russian prison, uncataloged and unread.