|Biography||Honors||Statements by Simon Wiesenthal|
|Filmography||Bibliography||Statements about Simon Wiesenthal|
"If he became obsessed by the idea of catching war criminals at the price of neglecting his professional and family life and even his health, he did not do so in order to avenge the wrong done to himself: The voice of his brother’s blood crying out from the earth prevented him from resting. It made him forget everything but the task of tracing and bringing to justice those responsible for the genocide of his people. He is not the only one of this sort….but no doubt one of the most talented among them. This character of his adds to the value of this book."
(Preface to the Hebrew edition of Wiesenthal’s book, I Hunted Eichmann, 1962)
Joseph Wechsberg (Author, Journalist)
"Most of the documents on Wiesenthal’s desk, and nearly all of his files and reports, have to do with tragedies that most people would be glad to forget. Wiesenthal’s constant preoccupation with terror has made him neither despondent nor callous. It is his strength and perhaps also his weakness that his files are not “cases”; each is to him a human being. He has not become a bureaucrat .… One of Wiesenthal’s toughest problems is that many of his personal experiences and details of his cases tax other people’s credulity. He must make the unbelievable believable to officials, prosecutors, and judges by patiently giving them facts and figures."
(Introductory Profile for The Murderers Among Us, 1967, p.6.)
From a biographical sketch in Current Biography Yearbook (1975)
"With an architect’s acumen, a Talmudist’s thoroughness, and a brilliant talent for investigative thinking, he pieces together the most obscure, incomplete, and apparently irrelevant and unconnected data to build cases solid enough to stand up in a court of law. The dossiers so assembled are then presented to the appropriate authorities. When, as often happens, they fail to take action, whether from indifference, pro-Nazi sentiment or some other consideration, Wiesenthal goes to the press and other media, for long experience has taught him that publicity and an outraged public opinion are powerful weapons."
Responses to a documentary with and about Simon Wiesenthal on German public television, March 2, 1978
"It is incredible that the most hated man in the world would present himself on television. It’s hard to imagine how many have cursed you, because a man-hunter and swine such as you should have been gotten rid of long ago. But let it be clear to you, you will no longer be feeding on German charity, you will be pursued even in Israel. A scum like you even boasts, “I hunted Eichmann”, a man against whom not a single murder could be proved and who was plagued to death by the Israeli vermin. Your days are numbered, because “we are hunting Wiesenthal” already and we will get you. Your pistol won’t help you either, because RAF is faster and more skilled than a stupid, degenerate Jewish pig.
Take note: you are doomed!"
(Anonymous letter of March 3, 1978. Trans. from German)
"On March 2, 1978, I saw a report about you and your work on German TV. I have no words to express how appalled I was. Not only about the brutish acts of murder and torture but also about the fact that there are still people who could do such things walking around free. I feel ashamed that we Germans have not succeeded in thoroughly coming to terms with our past. Instead we have merely pushed it away, and men like Hess, Speer, and Rudel are again being revered as heroes by many in West Germany - to say nothing of even worse leaders of the Nazi period. I am ashamed to be German, because I am only 26 years old and feel disgust at the indifference about our past among my fellow citizens.
With gratitude to you and reverence for the six-million victims."
(Letter of March 3, 1978. Trans. from German)
"He wants to expose the horrors, to identify witnesses to the crimes - not in order to perpetuate hate but, on the contrary, to free the German people as a whole from the injustice of collective guilt and, on the other hand, also to warn against the murderers of tomorrow.... Whoever wants to show young people what Nazi reality was like should not miss this film."
(Commentary about the German TV-documentary in Stuttgarter Zeitung, March 8, 1978.)
U.S. President Jimmy Carter in a telegram of congratulations for the “Man of the Year” honor by the Decalogue Society of Jewish Lawyers and Judges, Chicago, 1978
"In this country and abroad, you have earned a brilliant reputation as a champion of human rights. I welcome this opportunity to honor you publicly for your enduring contributions to the advancement of the rule of law and for your dynamic leadership in strengthening in both men and nations the concepts of human dignity and compassion.
Your achievements stand as a beacon of hope for all who have known the horrors of persecution by totalitarian regimes, as well as for those of us who are determined to ensure that such horrors will never recur."
Winston S. Churchill, in a letter of December 1979
"I am writing to express my admiration and appreciation of the magnificent work you have done and I hope may long continue to do – to track down those guilty of unspeakable crimes against the Jewish people and humanity in general of a previous generation. Your work stands as a constant reminder to the present generation and, above all, one must pray it will prove an effective deterrent to future would-be mass-murderers."
Henry Kissinger on the presentation of the 14th ‘Susie’ humanitarian award to Simon Wiesenthal, Beverly Hills, California, January 1980
"You are a living embodiment of mankind’s unquenchable spirit and a reminder to all of us that the struggle between freedom and totalitarianism has not ended."
Alfred Streim (Chief State Prosecutor, Central Justice Administration, Ludwigsburg, West Germany)
"The reader’s letter… of May 20, under the heading “More about Wiesenthal”, creates the impression that his work in throwing light on Nazi war crimes was not and is not significant, to put it mildly. I beg to differ.
Mr. Wiesenthal has been known to the Central Office of Regional Justice Administrations for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes at Ludwigsburg for almost 30 years. During this period, he has helped by supplying needed evidence and the names of witnesses in many cases. Moreover, in not a few instances, he supplied material which led us to institute an official investigation, and in some cases, to actual court action.
In my collaboration with Mr. Wiesenthal, I have never at any time had the impression that he was out to push himself personally in any way. His true interest was always that of our common goal – the investigation of Nazi crimes....
One thing is certain: through his cooperation in investigating Nazi crimes, Mr. Wiesenthal has our esteem, which he will continue to enjoy."
(Letter to the Editor of The Jerusalem Post, June 29, 1986)
Herbert Rosenkranz (Historian, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem)
"I wish to point out that the Yad Vashem archives contain the archives which Mr. Wiesenthal passed on to that institution, without gain, in 1955.
The Wiesenthal archives contain a mine of information regarding the fate of the refugees and the Briha movement of Holocaust survivors in the American zone of Austria. They also reflect his attempt to retrace, in a methodical manner, the Nazis’ evil apparatus, and to locate criminals, as well as witnesses, in order to bring those criminals to justice.
In pursuit of this aim, Wiesenthal foiled the attempt of Eichmann’s wife to declare him dead, which definitely was a major help in tracing him.
At the time of the preparation of the trial of Eichmann, Yad Vashem provided the Israeli prosecutors with considerable documentation from the Wiesenthal archives."
(Letter to the Editor of The Jerusalem Post, September 1, 1986)
Helmut Kohl (Chancellor, Federal Republic of Germany, 1982 – 1998)
"If I were to describe as concisely as possible the qualities of this extraordinary man, I would say: He is a champion of humanity. The assertion of justice against injustice, of morality against barbarism, characterizes his life-work just as much as his readiness to approach those in whose name great suffering was inflicted on his family and himself. Anyone who has the good fortune of being acquainted with Simon Wiesenthal – I gladly recall many good conversations with him – will discover that his openness and friendliness are never shallow. His great seriousness is the result of a life that has led him through the darkest period of German history."
(Keynote speech at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Sixth Annual Eastern Regional Dinner in Tribute to Simon Wiesenthal on the occasion of his 80th birthday, New York, November 1988. Trans. from German.)
Albert Speer (Architect, Minister of Armaments under Hitler)
"Afflicted by unspeakable suffering, horrified by the torments of millions of human beings, I acknowledged responsibility for these crimes at the Nuremberg Trial. With the verdict of guilty, the court punished only my legal guilt. Beyond that remains the moral involvement. Even after twenty years of imprisonment in Spandau, I can never forgive myself for recklessly and unscrupulously supporting a regime that carried out the systematic murder of Jews and other groups of people. My moral guilt is not subject to the statute of limitations, it cannot be erased in my lifetime. Should you forgive, Simon Wiesenthal, even if I cannot forgive myself?.…
Well, on May 20, 1975, we sat facing one another for more than three hours at your Vienna-based Documentation Center, a meeting preceded by a six-month correspondence .... You showed clemency, humanity, and goodness when we sat facing one another on this May 20th, too. You did not touch my wounds. You carefully tried to help. You didn’t reproach me or confront me with your anger. I looked into your eyes, eyes that reflected all the murdered people, eyes that have witnessed the misery, degradation, fatalism, and agony of your fellow human beings. And yet, those eyes are not filled with hatred; they remain warm and tolerant and full of sympathy for the misery of others. When we parted, you wrote for me in my copy of your book that I did not repress that ruthless time, but had recognized it responsibly in its true dimensions. My trauma led me to you. You helped me a great deal – as you helped the SS man when you did not withdraw your hand or reproach him. Every human being has his burden to bear. No one can remove it for another, but for me, ever since that day, it has become much lighter. It is God’s grace that has touched me through you."
(Symposium in The Sunflower, 1997, p. 245-246.)
Hella Pick (Wiesenthal’s Biographer)
"Though he now thinks he could have been more effective if he had had more money, he has never been an empire-builder in the sense of seeking to control an army of helpers. Nor has he been keen to share or delegate authority. It went against the grain of his character make-up. He knows that he is best working on his own, taking his own decisions. He was never made for collegial work. In the 1960s , he was rather taken with his Don Quixote image, which he evidently enjoyed and cultivated. But a bigger operation would not, in any event, have been able to exploit his particular gifts. He carries so much information in his head that it has always seemed easier for him to do his own research. And, as happens regularly with larger-than-life personalities in their confidential dealings with the Documentation Centre, people only wanted to talk to him and not to any assistants.
(In Simon Wiesenthal. A Life in Search of Justice. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1996, p. 168.)
Bill Clinton (President of the U.S.A. in a letter of September 24, 1996)
"I want to take this opportunity, on the 50th Anniversary of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, to commend you and your life’s work in the pursuit of justice.
Although the atrocities of the Holocaust occurred more than five decades ago, the pursuit of Nazi war criminals is as important now as ever…. we must never let up in our efforts to ensure that Nazi war criminals are held accountable for their offences.
As you have often reminded us, the pursuit of justice requires more than punishment for past crimes. Our obligation to those who perished in the Holocaust includes bearing witness to acts of genocide that have occurred – and continue to occur – in modern times. As you have admonished, “Our tragedy in the Nazi camps was that the world forgot us. It was that terrible silence of the world that enveloped us.”
In forcing an often reluctant world to confront t-his painful subject, you have earned the abiding gratitude of all of those in this nation and around the world who are committed to the pursuit of justice on behalf of the victims of tyranny, persecution and genocide."
Plaque for the U.S. Medal of Freedom
"A survivor of World War II concentration camps, Simon Wiesenthal has been at the forefront of Holocaust remembrance for more than 50 years, devoting his life to bringing perpetrators of Nazi atrocities to justice. His efforts have ensured the arrest of more than 1000 war criminals, and he continues to inspire others in the fight against racism and intolerance. For his commitment to preserving the memory of Holocaust victims, his unrelenting pursuit of truth, and his dedication to educating a new generation about the devastating consequences of remaining silent in the face of horror, the world owes its profound gratitude to Simon Wiesenthal."
(Presented by U.S. President Bill Clinton in the White House, August 8, 2000)
Daniel Bellemare (Vice-President, IAP, the International Association of Prosecutors)
"As prosecutors, we can easily relate to the evidence gathering process. We can also understand the difficulty of the task, and we can only but admire the extent of your remarkable achievements.
Prosecutors are acutely aware of how the chase can become the central theme, and issues of evidence and justice can easily be set aside. Prosecutors need good investigators and good investigators never let the pursuit of the criminal interfere with the gathering of evidence and the resulting search for justice. As you once put it, “discovering witnesses is just as important as catching criminals ….”
You, sir, have always ensured that even those accused of the most heinous crimes have received a fair trial. At the same time, all your efforts have been directed towards the protection of human dignity and human rights."
(Presentation ceremony of IAP’s Medal of Honor to Simon Wiesenthal, Vienna, April 17, 2002)
Rabbi Marvin Hier (Founder and Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center)
"It is important to remember that this architect from Buczacz had no background in intelligence or investigation, but with sheer determination alone, brought more than 1,100 Nazi war criminals to justice. Not just ordinary criminals, but mass murderers like Franz Stangel, the commandant of Treblinka death camp, Gustav Wagner, the commandant of Sobibor death camp, Walter Rauff, the inventor of the mobile gas vans who counted amongst their victims the infirmed and the handicapped, and Karl Silberbauer, the Nazi who had arrested Anne Frank.
Simon had little patience for formalities. When one looked into his eyes, you could see the sense of urgency with which he lived his life, as if he could still hear the footsteps of the millions walking beside him, the parents who never had the opportunities to say their farewells, the children who would never reach adulthood, and the generations snuffed out by the flames of the crematoria....
No one did more than he in bringing the perpetrators of history’s greatest crime to justice. Even those who had escaped, lived their lives in fear because of him. Perhaps one day the knock would come to their door. This, too, Simon felt was a small measure of justice. No person devoted himself so absolutely, giving up all worldly, and material pursuits and placing his family in harm’s way for the singular purpose of forcing the world to remember the crimes committed against the Jewish people by a so-called civilized society. For the victims of the Holocaust who perished, he returned to them the respect they were never accorded in life. Every survivor walked a little taller and felt more secure because Simon Wiesenthal was out there defending their honor and the honor of all those who perished…."
(Eulogy to Simon Wiesenthal, Museum of Tolerance, Los Angeles, September 20, 2005)