On this day: Simon Wiesenthal dies

September 20 1945: The Holocaust survivor turned Nazi-hunter dies at the age of 96

By Jennifer Lipman, September 20, 2010
Simon Wiesenthal

Simon Wiesenthal

Simon Wiesenthal described himself as “the deputy of the dead.”

Born in what was then Austria-Hungary, he spent much of his childhood in Vienna before going to Prague to study architecture.

Several members of his family were murdered by the Nazis and he was separated from his wife Cyla and sent to Mauthausen, where he survived, barely.

After the Holocaust the couple, who had believed each other dead, were reunited and in 1946 he opened the Jewish Documentation Centre in Lin, with the aim of identifying former Nazis and bringing them to justice.

His most famous capture was Adolf Eichmann, the mastermind of the Final Solution, who was tracked down and captured in 1961.

In 997 the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a Jewish human rights organisation named in his honour, opened in Los Angeles.

He died in Vienna and was buried in Israel.

What the JC said: His success in pursuing Nazi war criminals turned him, as he has been called, into the conscience of the Holocaust. His refusal to allow these criminals to escape justice helped pave the way for Europe to examine its past and create a better future.

See more from the JC archives here

Last updated: 9:48am, September 20 2010