Tuesday, September 20, 2005

In Praise of Simon Wiesenthal

Adam Bernstein has published an excellent article on the life of the Nazi Hunter in The Washington Post.

Simon Wiesenthal, 96, the controversial Nazi hunter who pursued hundreds of war criminals after World War II and was central to preserving the memory of the Holocaust for more than half a century, died early today at his home in Vienna, Austria. He had a kidney ailment.
I think this excerpt from the article captures him well:
He never doubted his motivation for working so long against the seemingly impossible odds of righting a genocide. In a New York Times article from 1964, he once described attending Sabbath services with a fellow camp survivors who had become wealthy jeweler. The man asked why Wiesenthal had not resumed architecture, his pre-war trade, for it would have made him rich.

"You're a religious man," Wiesenthal told his friend. "You believe in God and life after death. I also believe. When we come to the other world and meet the millions of Jews who died in the camps and they ask us, 'What have you done?' there will be many answers. You will say, 'I became a jeweler.' Another will say, 'I smuggled coffee and American cigarettes.' Another will say, 'I built houses.' But I will say, 'I didn't forget you.' "
And we won't forget him either. The Center that bears his name in California also has an extensive biography.

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