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Tribute to Simon Wiesenthal

Tribute to Simon Wiesenthal

What is behind the man who brought 1,100 war criminals to justice?


Simon Wiesenthal, the 94-year-old famed Nazi hunter who tracked down Adolph Eichmann, is retiring. He was responsible for bringing over 1,100 war criminals to justice.

I often ask myself: Would I have survived the Holocaust? How would it have impacted me? What would I have done after going through the Holocaust? What could I do to prevent another Holocaust?

And then I read about Simon Wiesenthal's life and how he responded to these questions.

Survive the Holocaust? Three times he was inexplicably saved. He was in a line of Jews being shot one by one by Ukrainian when they stopped about 10 people away at the sound of church bells to take a break for Vespers. A non-Jewish friend pulled him out of line and saved him.

The second time he was in a line of Jews waiting to be shot to celebrate Hitler's birthday; another righteous non-Jew -- Heinrech Guenthert -- sent Adolph Kohlrautz to the concentration camp to demand the return of "his painter" needed to paint a swastika on a banner for the celebration.

The third time waiting to be shot, the S.S. decided that they needed to keep his group of 34 Jews alive so that the 200 S.S. men would be required to guard them rather than be sent to the Eastern Front to fight the Russians.

Wiesenthal's reaction? In the book “Justice Not Vengeance,” Peter Lingens writes of Wiesenthal's response to the question, "When hundreds of thousands were murdered, why was I allowed to live?" Writes Lingens, "He had not done anything that would justify his survival. By bringing the murderers to justice he believes he is performing a deed which in retrospect justifies his survival then."

How would the Holocaust impact a person? Simon Wiesenthal sought justice, not revenge. He refused to give information to revenge squads of former partisans who wanted to execute their tormentors. He spent hours convincing them that the answer to countering the bestiality of the Nazis is through strengthening society's effort towards law and justice. "Revenge killings cannot and must not be a way of administering justice. We differ from the Nazis precisely in that we accept the judgments of courts of law, even if we consider them monstrous or unjust."

Wiesenthal opened his Jewish Documentation Center in Vienna in 1947. For the next 50 years he listened to person after person tell the story of their torment. Never did he become inured to the pain; often he would break into tears during the conversations. He has compassion for people and always strives to help those in need of help. He worked with every channel possible to document the crimes against humanity, locate the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

Why do I admire Simon Wiesenthal? His decency, his vision, his commitment, his compassion. The Torah teaches, "Tzedek, tzedek tirdof" --"Righteousness, righteousness, you shall pursue" (Deut. 16:20). "What does the Almighty require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8). These principles, these concepts were the foundation of his education; he took them to heart and lived according to them.

When someone asked why he chose to pursue the purveyors of evil and bring them to justice, Wiesenthal responded, "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 have smuggled coffee and American cigarettes.' Another will say, 'I built houses.' But I will say, 'I didn't forget you’."


May 10, 2003

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Visitor Comments: 12

(12) D.K.Milgrim-Heath, July 18, 2010 6:09 PM

Simon Wiesentthal's A Saint Of Saints Brought Needed Justice To The World

Simon Wiesenthal A Saint Of Saints Brought Needed Justice To The World By D.K. Milgrim-Heath©2010 Simon Wiesenthal a saint of saints brought needed justice to the world- An expertise finding 1,100 for Nazis’ to trials for their crimes he unfurled. He was a Holocaust victim himself - his life spared times three- For God granting him life he worked only for justice for all humanity. I, being little seeing a Holocaust survivor prisoner’s arm number for a first- Had me grow up learning so much about those atrocities because I’ve that thirst. Seeing Holocaust books then learned that my own family died that way too- My heart’s sorrowful as I own those maternal family photos of the dead that I never knew. As I look at my innocent family victims as their only vice was being a Jew- I realize that Simon Wiesenthal motto rings with me as well “I didn’t forget you”. His Jewish Documentation Center started in Vienna 1947- For the next 50 years with successful work by God’s help in heaven. Simon Wiesenthal with filled by compassion and commitment for all of his days- Gave the world truthful knowledge of the Holocaust till eternity in all ways.

(11) Anonymous, February 4, 2005 12:00 AM

simon wiesenthal is an inspiration

this man is very respected by me.what this man did is great. if he didnt he should have won the nobel peace prize. to me is great and i thank this site for posting this story. im 13 and this is the first time ive heard of him. that is not right, he should be more respected.

(10) Marcus Kernohan, January 27, 2005 12:00 AM

Justice... not vengeance.

I would like, also, to thank Mr. Wiesenthal. God(s) forbid we should ever forget the wanton and ruthless annihalation of so many innocent people's lives, and Mr. Wiesenthal is ensuring that we don't.

As a British 14-year-old, I am of a generation that is slowly forgetting those who were murdered so savagely. This must be remedied: WE CAN NOT EVER FORGET. But thank you again, for your work in ensuring that the Holocaust, and its victims, are NEVER forgetten.

'Justice, not vengeance.' I agree wholeheartedly: we must take our own moral high-road, and send these utter monsters to the afterlife, to answer for their unimaginable sins there. Goebbels, Himmler, Hitler, Mengele, Hoess, Eichmann: there is no redemption for such people. They have shed their humanity. There is but one of the major Nazis left: Alois Brunner,in Damascus. When he is dead, and these damned neo-Nazis are dissolved, we can concentrate on repairing the tremendous damage that the 'Endlosung' has caused.

Mr. Simon Wiesenthal, you are a giant among men. You have my undying respect and gratitude. Thank you.

(9) sherry little, April 30, 2004 12:00 AM

i loved what he did

i want to thank simon wiesenthal for all of his hard work he is an awesome person and he survived one of the hardest times in the worlds history and thank god that he was able to track down so many of the nazii's.... it was god's will for him to survive and he did thanx for bringing justice....

(8) Matthew, September 4, 2003 12:00 AM

Very good source


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