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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Nazi Hunter Simon Wiesenthal, Dead at 96

Well, sadly, we lost a valuable link to history and the present.....

This was a guy who got criminals brought to justice......

Nazi Hunter Wiesenthal Dead at 96
Tuesday, September 20, 2005

LOS ANGELES — Simon Wiesenthal (search), the Holocaust (search) survivor who helped track down numerous 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 died in his sleep at his home in Vienna, Austria, according to Rabbi Marvin Hier (search), dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (search) 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.
Wiesenthal, who had been an architect before World War II, changed his life's mission after the war, dedicating himself to trying to track 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.
Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said Tuesday that Wiesenthal "brought justice to those who had escaped justice."
"He acted on behalf of six million people who could no longer defend themselves," Regev said. "The state of Israel, the Jewish people and all those who oppose racism recognized Simon Wiesenthal's unique contribution to making our planet a better place."
His life's quest began after the Americans liberated the Mauthausen (search) 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 seeking justice.
"It became decades," he added.
Hier said Wiesenthal began his work on May 9, 1945 — the day after World War II ended — by presenting his American liberators a list of Nazi war criminals that he had compiled. He took on a task nobody else wanted.
"Who wanted to be Nazi hunter in 1945, '46?" Hier said. "Everyone was focusing on the Cold War. Survivors wanted to rebuild their shattered lives."
Even after reaching the age of 90, Wiesenthal continued to remind and to warn. While appalled at atrocities committed by Serbs against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, he said no one should confuse the tragedy there with the slaughter of 6 million Jews.
"We are living in a time of the trivialization of the word 'Holocaust,"' he said in an interview with The Associated Press in May 1999. "What happened to the Jews cannot be compared with all the other crimes. Every Jew had a death sentence without a date."
Wiesenthal's life spanned humanity's most violent century.
He was born on Dec. 31, 1908, to Jewish merchants at Buczacs (search), a small town near the present-day Ukrainian city of Lvov in what was then the Austro-Hungarian empire. He studied in Prague and Warsaw and in 1932 received a degree in civil engineering.
He apprenticed as a building engineer in Soviet Russia before returning to Lvov to work toward an architecture degree and opened an architectural office before the Russians and then the Germans occupied Lvov and the terror began.
After 1945, working first with the Americans and later from a cramped Vienna apartment packed floor to ceiling with documents, Wiesenthal tirelessly pursued fugitive Nazi war criminals.
He was perhaps best known for his role in tracking down Adolf Eichmann (search), the one-time SS leader who organized the extermination of the Jews.
Eichmann was found in Argentina, abducted by Israeli agents in 1960, tried and hanged for crimes committed against the Jews.
Wiesenthal often was accused of exaggerating his role in Eichmann's capture. He did not claim sole responsibility, but said he knew by 1954 where Eichmann was.
Eichmann's capture "was a teamwork of many who did not know each other," Wiesenthal told The Associated Press in 1972. "I do not know if and to what extent reports I sent to Israel were used."
Among others Wiesenthal tracked was Austrian policeman Karl Silberbauer (search), who he believes arrested the Dutch teenager Anne Frank and sent her to the Bergen-Belsen (search) concentration camp where she died. Officials never reacted to the tip.
Wiesenthal decided to pursue Silberbauer in 1958 after a youth told him he did not believe in Anne Frank's existence and murder, but would if Wiesenthal could find the man who arrested her. His five-year search resulted in Silberbauer's 1963 capture.
Wiesenthal did not bring to justice one prime target — Dr. Josef Mengele (search), the infamous "Angel of Death" of the Auschwitz (search) concentration camp. Mengele died in South America after eluding capture for decades.
Wiesenthal's long quest for justice also stirred controversy.
In Austria, which took decades to acknowledge its own role in Nazi crimes, Wiesenthal was ignored and often insulted before finally being honored for his work when he was in his 80s.
In 1975, then-Chancellor Bruno Kreisky (search), himself a Jew, suggested Wiesenthal was part of a "certain mafia" seeking to besmirch Austria. Kreisky even claimed Wiesenthal collaborated with Nazis to survive.
Ironically, it was the furor over Kurt Waldheim (search), who became president in 1986 despite lying about his past as an officer in Hitler's army, that gave Wiesenthal stature in Austria.
Wiesenthal's failure to condemn Waldheim as a war criminal drew international ire and conflict with American Jewish groups.
But it made Austrians realize that the Nazi hunter did not condemn everybody who took part in the Nazi war effort.
Wiesenthal did repeatedly demand Waldheim's resignation, seeing him as a symbol of those who suppressed Austrians' role as part of Hitler's German war and death machine. But he turned up no proof of widespread allegations that Waldheim was an accessory to war crimes.
He pursued his crusade of remembrance into old age with the vigor of youth, with patience and determination. But as he entered his 90s, he worried that his mission would die with him.
"I think in a way the world owes him and his memory a tremendous amount of gratitude," Hier said.
Wiesenthal had more high foreign awards than any other living Austrian citizen. In 1995, the city of Vienna made him an honorary citizen. He also wrote several books, including his memoirs, "The Murderers Among Us," (search) in 1967, and worked regularly at the small downtown office of his Jewish Documentation Center (search) even after turning 90.
"The most important thing I have done is to fight against forgetting and to keep remembrance alive," he said in the 1999 interview with The Associated Press. "It is very important to let people know that our enemies are not forgotten."
Wiesenthal's wife, Cyla, whom he married in 1936, died in November 2003.


And for anyone who is Jewish, or at least somewhat religious, read the Jewish Kaddish:

MOURNER'S KADDISHAn English Translation Glorified and sanctified be God's great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity. Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for usand for all Israel; and say, Amen.He who creates peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.


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  • At 10:37 AM, Blogger Kevin said…

    wow -- your blog must be getting more popular since it seems to get so many spam hits.

    Anyways -- question that I had -- since this is an interesting article about a heroic Jew...

    ...and I am asking very sincerely, so please don't think I'm just being an asshole, but would you say that Simon Wiesenthal is in hell?

    I seem to recall learning throughout my youth, and sometimes seeing it rewritten on this blog, that non-believers of Christ are headed straight to hell.

    This guy obviously lived a really good life, a really tough life, and yet, somehow I doubt he believed Christ was savior.

    What does that suggest of his fate?

  • At 11:45 AM, Blogger NDwalters said…

    Kevin, I do not think Wiesenthal is in hell, but I am not God. There was a verse that said, for those who do not have faith, I will judge their works. Simon Wiesenthal had good works, and how he and God related is a matter to take up with The Man later. Would you think the 6 Million murdered Jews, adults and children were condemned to hell? I am no expert. Certainly some collaborators and traitors may be there, with their Nazi pals.

    No way for me to tell if Simon accepted Christ or not, there are Messianic Jews, who believe in Christ, they just keep it at a low volume, or keep it so to talk to their families, without arguments or getting disowned.

    Read the Bible and see what it says. What I feel may be hellworthy, and who is there, may differ from God. Remember what Vance said about Jeffrey Dahmer before he was killed in prison????

  • At 12:15 PM, Blogger Kevin said…

    Yes I do.

    I'm not so much curious as to the fate of a 'bad' person who accepts Christ before his death, but rather a good person who never accepts Christ.

    I have noticed it several times on the blog, comments regarding the godless going to hell. And while of course I understand you are not god, I was really just curious as to what people's thoughts are. This article just happened to give me a good 'in' to that question - since this guy was clearly a good man.

    I think it is safe to say, tho, that he never accepted Christ - in any shape or form. His biography made it sound like he was a very faithful Jew and so that prompted my question.

    Regarding the same time period as Vance, I recall hearing time and again that non-believers would go to hell. I remember hearing that those killed in the Holocaust because of them being Jewish, would go to hell.

    It's a question about Christianity that constantly intrigues me.

  • At 1:32 PM, Blogger owdbob said…

    When you get to HELL Ky-IVAN let us know if SIMON and J.F.K. made it.

  • At 1:47 PM, Blogger owdbob said…


  • At 1:59 PM, Blogger Kevin said…

    Thanks bob -- though that isn't very helpful towards my question at the moment...

  • At 6:53 PM, Blogger chefwes said…

    Remember, the Jews are the chosen people of God, according to the Bible. The Ancient Israelis operated under a different administration, different laws, as it were. Yes, they were to look for the Messiah, whom the Christians and Jews for Christ have proclaimed as Jesus Christ.
    However, Kesus Christ himself has proclaimed his "believers" as the body of Christ, to which, there was supposed to be a "bride", which was the Jews, those who haven't believed in Christ but have followed the precepts, and have believed in the on true God all along.
    JC never stated that those who didn't believe in him were "going to Hell (that's a whole different interesting study, its not exactly what you were taught in Sunday School!)rather, he stated that no one would go to Heaven, but by him.
    According to what I understand, at this point in time, the 3rd heaven and earth, the earth will be populated by the Jews and others who were "saved" before JC came along, or those after the tribulation, but before the throne of judgement. Heaven, otherwise known as "Paradise", will be reserved for the believers in Christ, and the angelic beings who have been there all along, which persons will also be able to travel between the Earth and the two.
    Does that help any?

  • At 9:53 PM, Blogger Ranando said…

    This is a sad day, he was a great man.


    I tried to reply to your email and for some reason I could'nt. I'm in New York this week and I did read your post this morning before I left.

    He lived a good life and did many great things.


  • At 10:34 PM, Blogger Kevin said…


    Thanks for the very informative post. It does help some, though it still makes me question why it was that I heard what I did so many times in the past.

    I am fairly certain that Nick can vouch for what I am claiming to have heard time and again.

    It is obviously one of those finer points of Christianity that has always bothered me (the going to hell part), but I think your post actually puts it in a different light altogether.

    I will read into it a bit more and see what I can dig up. Thanks again for the point of view.

  • At 6:04 PM, Blogger owdbob said…

    O.K. Ivan some of us that believe in something GREATER than " THE MOMENT " are willing give up the chance to have life after death.

    May my soul burn in hell, to stop the NAZI and COMMIE PRICKS!

    HOPE THIS HELPED And I am no Simon Wisenthal but EVIL must be stoped no matter what religon has at the EVIL. Even you Believe what you do is right Kevin. THAT IS CALLED FAITH. WOW that's a start

  • At 6:42 PM, Blogger chefwes said…

    what a strange individual

  • At 7:04 PM, Blogger chefwes said…

    Kevin, notice, please,
    I didn't say there WAS no Hell, simply that, as I understand it, there are places, for certain others of those who may not have been exposed to Christianity, or for those who lived, according to the precepts of God's law, available to them, in their time and place, to not "go to hell".
    Personally, as I understand it, "hell" , means eternal separation from God. All men will have to face God Almighty, at the judgement day, and answer for themselves, this will basically be, did you believe in my son, or not, and if not, why not?
    I've understood some of your posts on other threads to be saying that if Christianity says that it's the ONLY way to God, then its a ludicrous religion... sorry to tell you this, but 99% of the religions out there say the same, so, in your view, I guess all religions are ludicrous.
    Answer me one question though ( since you didnt like my argument for probabilities, even though it was a good one!), if YOU were God Almighty, had given mankind freedom of will, because you wanted to be worshipped and loved on your own merits, not on some kind of forced worship thing, then you laid down HOW man could come to you, and sent your own SON to "lay down the law" as it were.... how many other forms of worship would you accept? If you TOLD man, but still gave him his choice, is MAN not accountable for his own choices?
    Similiarly speaking, you TELL your child, do NOT, under any circumstances do "such and such" a thing. your child does it... do you punish them, or let them go on doing what they want, no consequences involved?
    Which is love, their running rampant, or you standing up and correcting them?
    God, as I understand it, doesn't have a place for "good men". as they have been exposed to the truth, and have made their choice.
    Now, whether this means a "lake of burning fire" is open to discussion, as I understand it, THAT place, is deserved for certain "special" people, such as Hitler, Idi Amin, Stalin... those who had a chance to believe, yet chose evil and chose to DO evil to other men.
    Being "good" was never a prerequisite for entry to "heaven".
    Even JC himself said "there are many who will say Father, Father, but not having known me will be cast out"( or something similar, my translation may not be ENTIRELY correct at this point).
    Basically, what I am saying is that ALL men (and women) have a choice to make... THAT choice is what they will be judged on, NOT whether they were good, or bad!

  • At 8:53 PM, Blogger Kevin said…


    Thanks for another interesting response. As for Bob, well, I don't much know what to say. I assume he is about 14 or so, so I don't hold much against him. But, back to your comments...

    I didn't say there WAS no Hell...

    I know. I did not mean for you to think that I had read it that way.

    Ive understood some of your posts on other threads to be saying that if Christianity says that it's the ONLY way to God, then its a ludicrous religion... sorry to tell you this, but 99% of the religions out there say the same, so, in your view, I guess all religions are ludicrous.

    Right, well that is mostly my belief, the latter of what you said. I realize that most other religions not only state that, but for the most part, are rather identical altogether. I am sure there are countless websites pointing out the similarities between religions so I won't list them, but because of that, I am hard pressed to believe any of them.

    Oddly enough, I do believe in God or some form of God, but not for any other reason than I realize it is impossible to scientifically discover 'the beginning'. ...Or so it would seem anyways. At some point in the equation, one always arrives at '..but where did that come from?'

    As per your question, it is difficult for me to answer. Partly because I think it is (fundamentally) a Christian question. It suggests the attitude of 'God' as being similar to what Christianity asserts of God. So, why must God, the creator, wish for those to worship him as such?

    Metaphorically speaking, God and humans have often been compared to an antfarm (the ants are humans, we are God). In my experience, antfarms are fun, but I've never felt that the ants should pay me tribute for providing them with food and the like. Nor do I expect them to curse me should I crush one.

    Please take that metaphor very lightly as I am merely trying to suggest (and ask) as to why God must be so assertive and otherwise demand respect.

    I say demand because the only true difference between a request and a demand is that one can turn down a request without consequence(s). Why might God insist upon us making a choice whereby choosing incorrectly will only result in us suffering the most dire of consequences?

    In reference to the metaphorical question you asked:

    Similiarly speaking, you TELL your child, do NOT, under any circumstances do "such and such" a thing. your child does it... do you punish them, or let them go on doing what they want, no consequences involved?

    I am not sure I can agree the elements are the same here. Obviously, I can see what you are getting at, but I would rather see it answered where the parent tells the child: "You must love me, under all circumstances". And if the child fails to love his/her parents, they will then suffer the most severe consequences. Does that seem right?

    THAT choice is what they will be judged on, NOT whether they were good, or bad!

    That is how I read the bible too, and what I have always been taught. It is also, however, just something I entirely disagree with. It is what prompted me to ask my original question: do you think that Simon Wiesenthal, a Jew and non-believer of Christ, is in hell? To which I should reword as: ...[is he] NOT in heaven?

  • At 11:48 AM, Blogger NDwalters said…

    Reading a book on Wiesenthal and saw his words, GOD WAS ON LEAVE DURING THE WAR. Well, that may translate into lack of faith which makes it harder to get into heaven. Let's hope for those without faith, God judges his works.....

  • At 1:01 PM, Blogger Kevin said…

    Ahh, but then the other side of us will say:

    Let us hope that those believers with poor work will be judged upon their faith alone.

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