(AP Photo/Ronald Zak, File)
Simon Wiesenthal, holocaust survivor and hunter of Nazi war criminals, passed away in his sleep this morning. He was 96. May his life be remembered as a blessing.
Wiesenthal spent more than 50 years hunting Nazi war criminals, speaking out against neo-Nazism and racism, and remembering the Jewish experience as a lesson for humanity. Through his work, he said, some 1,100 Nazi war criminals were brought to justice.
“When history looks back I want people to know the Nazis weren’t able to kill millions of people and get away with it,” he once said.
Wiesenthal’s own words summarize his life better than I can:
For your benefit, learn from our tragedy. It is not a written law that the next victims must be Jews. It can also be other people. We saw it begin in Germany with Jews, but people from more than twenty other nations were also murdered. When I started this work, I said to myself, ‘I will look for the murderers of all the victims, not only the Jewish victims. I will fight for justice.’
(Quoted in an interview in Penthouse Magazine, 1983)
We need partners. We cannot fight against the neo-Nazis alone. We need friends. We can win them by telling them their history, by talking about the others, the millions of people other than the Jews, that the Nazis killed. The Holocaust began with the Jewish. But it did not end with the Jews.
(from an interview in the Baltimore Jewish Times, April 3, 1981)
There is no denying that Hitler and Stalin are alive today…they are waiting for us to forget, because this is what makes possible the resurrection of these two monsters.
(from a meeting with President Jimmy Carter reported in The Washington Post, August 6, 1980)