Simon Wiesenthal

Picture of Simon Wiesenthal

Date of Birth: 12/31/1908

Age: 96

Place of birth: Buchach

Citizenship: Austria

Simon Wiesenthal, the Nazi hunter

Simon Wiesenthal was born on December 31, 1908 in the town of Buchach, in the territory of Austria-Hungary. In 1928 he graduated from high school and filed in Lviv Polytechnic University. However, the petition was denied because the quota for admission of Jews. Then Wiesenthal entered the Prague Technical University and graduated in 1932 with a diploma architect. In 1936 he married and returned to the city, where he opened an architectural office.

How it all began

Before suffer from the Nazis, Wiesenthal`s family managed to suffer from the Soviet Union. When in Lviv, who moved to Moscow after the conclusion of the Molotov-Ribentroppa, Soviet troops entered, stepfather and brother were arrested Wiesenthal. When the Nazis occupied Lvov, Simon Wiesenthal and his wife Celia were in a concentration camp "Yanovichi", located near the city. In 1942 Tsile via the Polish underground managed to escape, and before the end of the war, she successfully hid from the Nazis. Wiesenthal himself escaped in 1943, but eight months later was caught and then thrown into a concentration camp. Later, he was transferred to other concentration camps. The end of the war found him in Mauthausen, Austria - May 5, 1945 American tank unit and freed prisoners entered the camp area. At the time of liberation, Wiesenthal was in the barracks for the dying and weighed just over 40 kilograms. US military doctors were able to save him, and at the end of 1945, he found his Ziehl.

Hardly getting to his feet, Wiesenthal began to collect evidence of Nazi crimes, working closely with the Commission for War Crimes of the US Army. For some time Wiesenthal also worked in the Office of Strategic Services (forerunner of the CIA) and the Office of Intelligence of the US Armed Forces, supplying them with information about Nazi criminals in Austria. Evidence collected by Wiesenthal, appeared at the trials of Nazis, held in the American zone of occupation.

When his co-operation with the occupying military authorities in 1947 ended with a group of like-minded Wiesenthal opened in Linz, Austria "Jewish Historical Documentation Centre". The purpose of this is constantly updated archive has been collecting documentary evidence of Nazi atrocities and preparation for future trials. It should be noted that since the late 1940s desire at any cost to achieve the punishment of German war criminals was gradually weakened, both by official Moscow and of Washington. In fact, the Nazis actively sought only in the very first time after the victory, and then the Cold War, and former allies was not until the fugitive SS. No, of course, the search continues to lead that have been found are brought before the tribunal, but the zeal of the former winners have already gone. But Wiesenthal this circumstance did not care - he had his own goal: to make the Nazi retaliation inevitable.

Adolf Eichmann

In 1954, the Centre in Linz was closed and Wiesenthal passed all its archives to Israel, leaving at a dossier on Adolf Eichmann. The capture of this man Wiesenthal considered his main task. It Obersturmbannfuehrer SS Eichmann, which was stuck the nickname "architect of the Holocaust", was responsible for the extermination of millions of Jews during World War II.

In 1942, Eichmann presented the highest leadership of the Nazi plan for the "Final Solution of the Jewish question", to put it simply - the plan of complete extermination of the Jews, supplied on an industrial basis. SS Control "ID-IV" led by Eichmann was responsible for the establishment of Jewish ghettos in occupied cities, as well as death camps. Eichmann had been given almost unlimited powers and enormous power - he personally supervised every detail, from the height of the bunk in the barracks for prisoners and to the number of levels that are required for the transportation of Jews to concentration camps.

Spring of 1945, Eichmann tried to escape. He was arrested several times the Americans, but the former SS men managed to escape. Prior to 1950, he lived in Germany under an assumed name, and later, with the help of an underground organization of former Nazis, moved to South America.

In the early 1950s, Wiesenthal received information that Eichmann Adolf skryvaetsyav Argentina, and immediately put notify the Government of Israel. Hunting on Israeli intelligence chief executioner of the Jews lasted several years and ended with the Mossad agents kidnapped Eichmann from Buenos Aires and secretly flown to Israel where Eichmann was executed.

Nazi hunter

After the capture of Eichmann, Wiesenthal reopened his documentation center, this time in Vienna, and started to create a massive file cabinets on the Nazi criminals. We can say that from that moment began a personal hunting Wiesenthal for former SS troops. Wiesenthal was able to detect more than 1,100 Nazi war criminals to justice and to convey the materials collected by him. Among these people were Franz Stangl, the commandant of the death camps of Treblinka and Sobibor, where they were poisoned in gas chambers, shot and tortured 750,000 people Helmina Braunshtayner - killer of children in the concentration camp of Majdanek, Karl Silberbauer - Gestapo officer who arrested 14-year-old Anne Frank and her family in Amsterdam, Lyon Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie.

"The progressive forces of the world" in the face of the Soviet Union to the activities of the Wiesenthal treated dually. On the one hand, the official Moscow has strongly welcomed the search for war criminals. But on the other hand, the informal, the parties, the Soviet leadership at the mention of the name of Wiesenthal wrinkled - due to the fact that the Nazi hunter did not always know where to look for is, and where not. So, Wiesenthal has evidence that many former Nazis settled in the East German secret service "Stasi". According to him, this is why it has become such a highly professional - to come to work not novices. GDR authorities were aware of this state of affairs, but turn a blind eye because they needed "experts". KGB of the USSR, a lot of time to use the "Stasi" for its operations, this state of affairs suited the more. Not satisfied with it only Wiesenthal.

under fire

Independence and intractability Wiesenthal repeatedly resulted in irritation of the workers of the state structures of various countries, and more than once hindered its cooperation with these organizations. But Wiesenthal never wanted to take into account the "higher" reasons of political expediency. Activities Wiesenthal repeatedly been criticized, sometimes very tough. He was accused that he distorted in the direction of increasing the number of victims of the Holocaust and too loosely refers to historical truth is that many of the facts collected by him are fiction, that for him the goal always justifies the means. A former colleague Tuvia Friedman accused Wiesenthal "Nazi hunter" in that the latter is mainly engaged in speaking the language of the current, self-PR. In 1991, Isser Harel, the Israeli officer who participated in the "hunt for Eichmann", said Wiesenthal "was not in any way connected" with the capture of Eichmann and his role in the capture of Nazi war criminal has been greatly exaggerated.

Wiesenthal critics often argued that the "Nazi hunter" in all its search exclusively motivated revenge. But the man who has passed through several concentration camps and lost during the war more than 80 relatives, was entitled to a biased attitude towards the wanted Nazi criminals. Wiesenthal himself always insisted that not seeking revenge, but justice. He was until recently a negative attitude to the appeals "not to reopen old wounds" and, for example, sharply criticized the government of the Baltic republics for their positive attitude towards the former SS - old gunman is still a bandit, he said.

Wiesenthal has repeatedly argued that the meaning of the search fugitives lies not so much in the pursuit of a particular Eichmann and Mengele, but in the fact that the perpetrators of crimes against humanity never felt safe. Alas, today`s world is very selective approach to the issue of retribution for those who commit such atrocities. Some were unable to put in the dock, while others, like former Ugandan dictator Idi Amine organizer of one of the most massive genocide in modern history, dying quietly in her bed, never appeared before the court. But their work as anyone else Wiesenthal tried for 60 years to the number of criminals who escaped trial, has been steadily declining.