Simon Wiesenthal was born in 1908 in Galicia, then a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (the present-day Ukraine). He is celebrated today for his unstinting work in bringing to justice the Nazi war criminals associated with the atrocities of WWII.
He studied architecture and worked in his profession until the Russian army’s occupation in 1939, an event which saw the start of the purging of the local Jewish population. Having survived this, he then witnessed the Nazi takeover of the city in 1941 and was ultimately imprisoned in thirteen different labor and concentration camps, until his liberation from the Mauthausen camp in 1945.
Untiring, for many years, against all odds, and almost without any support or financial means, he persevered. A co-founder of the Jewish Documentation Center in Linz, Austria, his painstaking gathering and documenting of evidence brought notable successes. Thanks to his efforts more than 1,100 war criminals, among them Karl Silberbauer, the man who arrested Anne Frank, were brought to justice. He was most famously involved in the case which led to the capture of Adolf Eichmann, the officer behind the mass deportations of Europe's Jews for the "Final Solution".
Wiesenthal also fought unremittingly to keep alive the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust and through his work, writing and lectures, he continued over the years to highlight injustices and anti-Semitism and dealt with the moral questions of humanity against a background of inhumanity.
Wiesenthal fought relentlessly for public awareness of the Holocaust and against anti-Semitism and prejudice. He wrote articles, books, gave lectures and spoke out against injustice towards minorities. As he became well known, and his efforts were appreciated worldwide, he was able, to some extent, to restore the shaken honor and dignity of Holocaust survivors.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center was inaugurated in his honor and he also received, amongst others, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal, France's Légion d'honneur, decorations from the Austrian and French resistance movements, the Dutch and Luxembourg Freedom Medals and an Honorary Knighthood of the British Empire for a "lifetime of service to humanity", which also recognized the work of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Simon Wiesenthal died in 2005 at the age of 96 at his home in Vienna and was buried in Israel.
The Property of the late Simon Wiesenthal