Simon Wiesenthal: Holocaust Survivor and Nazi Hunter
Simon Wiesenthal was born in Buczacz, Ukraine, in 1908. After surviving various labor camps and a forced march, Wiesenthal was liberated from Mathausen on May 5, 1945. At the time of liberation he weighed less than one hundred pounds. As soon as he was healthy enough, Wiesenthal began to compile evidence of Nazi atrocities for the War Crimes Section of the United States Army. In 1947 he established the Jewish Historical Documentation Center in Austria to continue the compilation of evidence against war criminals. While the Center closed briefly during the Cold War, Wiesenthal reopened it in Vienna in the early 1960s. From that point on, Wiesenthal and colleagues at the Center devoted themselves to tracking down and documenting information on Nazi fugitives from justice. The information was then passed on to the relevant authorities. If the authorities failed to act, Wiesenthal often turned to the media to sway public opinion. Simon Wiesenthal is the author of a number of books: two of the most well-known are The Sunflower and The Murderers Among Us. He has received numerous honors, including an honorary knighthood, the Congressional Medal of Freedom, and the French Legion of Honor. In 1977, the Simon Wiesenthal Center was founded in Los Angeles. Today, in conjunction with the associated Museum of Tolerance, it is an internationally recognized center for Holocaust remembrance and the defense of Jewish and human rights.
Simon Wiesenthal died in 2005.