Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal buried in Israel
23 September 2005, HERZLIYA, ISRAEL - Simon Wiesenthal, who devoted the last 60 years of his life to tracking down Nazi war criminals after surviving the Holocaust, was buried in Israel Friday.
23 September 2005
HERZLIYA, ISRAEL - Simon Wiesenthal, who devoted the last 60 years of his life to tracking down Nazi war criminals after surviving the Holocaust, was buried in Israel Friday.
Hundreds of mourners including Holocaust survivors and officials from Austria, Germany, Poland, Russia, the United States and the European Union attended the funeral in Herzliya, northern Israel.
Wiesenthal died in Vienna Tuesday at the age of 96. He was credited with helping bring over 1,100 Nazis to justice by painstakingly gathering information at the three-room office of his Vienna-based Jewish Documentation Centre, which he founded just two years after the war.
Perhaps his most spectacular success was tracking down notorious Nazi SS leader Adolf Eichmann, who was seized from hiding in Argentina by the Israeli Mossad secret service, sentenced to death in Israel and executed in 1962.
"No one did more than he to bring the perpetrators of history's greatest crime to justice," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Los Angeles.
The international Jewish organization was named after Wiesenthal when it was established in 1977 because it was dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holocaust.
"Every Nazi criminal, also those who were never caught, knew that there are people out there, among them Simon Wiesenthal, who would search for them every day, every hour. There is also justice in that," said Michael Melchior, the Israeli deputy minister for Diaspora Affairs, who attended on behalf of the Israeli government.
Premier Ariel Sharon - who praised Wiesenthal as a man who devoted his life to ensuring there would be no repetition of past horrors - was not present at the funeral because of security concerns.
A representative of the Austrian government admitted that it had taken many years before the Nazi hunter received recognition from his government.
"He more than anyone else made official Austria realize that it had failed to prosecute Nazi criminals with sufficient effort," said the official.
"He has taught us to look in the mirror and assume responsibility," added a representative for the mayor of Vienna. A farewell ceremony attended by Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel was held in his honour in the city on Wednesday.
Wiesenthal was born on December 31, 1908 in Buczacz, a town which then belonged to the Austrian empire, but is now part of the Ukraine.
He was an architect before the war, but forced to work as a mechanic until his arrest by Nazi troops in 1941.
He survived no fewer than 12 concentration camps. Eighty-nine family members of his and his wife Cyla did not.
"It's a pity that he didn't succeed in catching even more murderers in his lifetime," said Ya'akov Burstein, a 73-year-old Holocaust survivor from Poland who attended the funeral despite the noon heat, saying Wiesenthal's efforts to seek justice had in the past brought him comfort.
But another Holocaust survivor, who said he was from Wiesenthal's hometown and had come to Israel in 1950 at the age of 18, contested: "He has done enough".
Subject: German news