WIESENTHAL, Simon (1908-2005)
Austrian Jewish Holocaust survivor, Nazi hunter, and writer.
SIG – Signature penned in rollerball blue ink on a small bookplate. Sufficient room for matting.
At the outbreak of WWII, Wiesenthal was studying architecture and living in Lwôw. He survived the Janowska concentrate camp (1941-44), the Krakow-Plaszow concentration camp (1944), the Gross-Rosen concentration camp, a death march to Chemnitz, Buchenwald, and the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp (1945).
After the war, Wiesenthal dedicated his life to tracking down and gathering information on fugitive Nazy war criminals so that they could be brought to trial. In 1947, he co-founded the Jewish Historical Documentation Centre in Linz, Austria, where he and others gathered information for future war crime trials and aided refugees in their search for lost relatives. He opened the Documentation Centre of the Association of Jewish Victims of the Nazi Regime in Vienna in 1961 and continued to try to locate missing Nazy war criminals. He played a small role in locating Adolf Eichmann, who was captured in Buenos Aires in 1960, and worked closely with the Austrian justice ministry to prepare a dossier on Franz Stangl, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1971.
In the 1970s and ’80s, Wiesenthal was involved in two high-profile events involving Austrian politicians. Shortly after Bruno Kreisky was inaugurated as Austrial chancellor in April 1970, Wiesenthal pointed out to the press that four of his new cabinet appointees had been members of the Nazi Party. Kreisky, angry, called Wiesenthal a “Jewish fascist”, comparing his organization to the Mafia and accused him of collaborating with the Nazis. Wiesenthal suggessfully sued for libel, the suit ending in 1989. In 1986, Wiesenthal was involved in the case of Kurt Waldheim, whose service in the Wehrmacht and probable knowledge of the Holocaust were revealed in the lead up to the 1986 Austrian presidential elections. Wiesenthal, embarrassed that he had previously cleared Waldheim of any wrongdoing, suffered much negative publicity as a result of the event.(Waldheim had been fourth Secretary-General of the United Nations).
With a reputation as a storyteller, Wiesenthal was the author of several memoirs containing tales that are only loosely based on actual events. In particular, he exaggerated his role in the capture of Eichmann in 1960.