Simon Wiesenthal dead at 96
The man who made a career of tracking down Nazis after the end of World War II died today in Vienna Austria.
Simon Wiesenthal's passing reminds me of my and dear wife's visit to Auschwitz Poland in 2000. I have never seen a more depressing place in my life. The attrocities that took place there still lay over the place. You have to visit the place to know what I mean, it's really hard to describe. I just shake my head at those idiots who think the holocaust was a myth. Go to Auschwitz and you'll never forget your visit.
James Joyner said Simon Wiesenthal's death may mark the end of an era, and I have to agree. RIP.
VIENNA, Austria - Simon Wiesenthal, the Holocaust survivor who helped track down Nazi war criminals following World War II, then spent the later decades of his life fighting anti-Semitism and prejudice against all people, died Tuesday. He was 96.
Wiesenthal, who helped find one-time SS leader Adolf Eichmann and the policeman who arrested Anne Frank, died in his sleep at his home in Vienna, said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.
"I think he'll be remembered as the conscience of the Holocaust. In a way he became the permanent representative of the victims of the Holocaust, determined to bring the perpetrators of the greatest crime to justice," Hier told The Associated Press.
A survivor of five Nazi death camps, Wiesenthal changed his life's mission after the war, dedicating himself to tracking down Nazi war criminals and to being a voice for the 6 million Jews who died during the onslaught. He himself lost 89 relatives in the Holocaust.
Wiesenthal spent more than 50 years hunting Nazi war criminals, speaking out against neo-Nazism and racism, and remembering the Jewish experience as a lesson for humanity. Through his work, he said, some 1,100 Nazi war criminals were brought to justice.
"When history looks back I want people to know the Nazis weren't able to kill millions of people and get away with it," he once said.
Calls of condolences poured into Wiesenthal's office in Vienna, where one of his longtime assistants, Trudi Mergili, struggled to deal with her grief.
"It was expected," she said. "But it is still so hard."
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said Wiesenthal "brought justice to those who had escaped justice."
"He acted on behalf of 6 million people who could no longer defend themselves," ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Tuesday. "The state of Israell, the Jewish people and all those who oppose racism recognized Simon Wiesenthal's unique contribution to making our planet a better place."
Austria's parliament speaker said "an important voice for remembrance and humanity has been silenced."
Wiesenthal was first sent to a concentration camp in 1941, outside Lviv, Ukraine. In October 1943, he escaped from the Ostbahn camp just before the Germans began killing all the inmates.
He was recaptured in June 1944 and sent back to Janwska, but escaped death as his SS guards retreated with their prisoners from the Soviet Red Army.
Wiesenthal's quest began after the Americans liberated the Mauthausen death camp in Austria where Wiesenthal was a prisoner in May 1945. It was his fifth death camp among the dozen Nazi camps in which he was imprisoned, and he weighed just 99 pounds when he was freed. He said he quickly realized "there is no freedom without justice," and decided to dedicate "a few years" to that mission.
"It became decades," he added.