The Holocaust survivor who helped bring war criminals to justice has shuffled off this mortal coil.
Wiesenthal, who died Tuesday in his sleep at his Vienna home at age 96, was driven by his memories of the Holocaust to fight for justice for its victims, dedicating himself to tracking down Nazi war criminals and to being a voice for the 6 million Jews who perished.
“I think he’ll be remembered as the conscience of the Holocaust. In a way he became the permanent representative of the victims of the Holocaust, determined to bring the perpetrators of the greatest crime to justice,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.
Expressing sadness, President Bush said history will always remember him because he “relentlessly pursued those responsible for some of the most horrific crimes against humanity the world has ever known.”
This man was a true hero.
Wiesenthal lost 89 relatives during the war. He survived five Nazi concentration camps and seven other prisons, weighing just 99 pounds when a U.S. Army armored unit liberated him and other inmates at Mauthausen in May 1945.
Enlisted by the Americans to research war criminals, the architect pursued the mission long after Allied forces lost interest.
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. He estimated he helped bring some 1,100 Nazi war criminals 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.
A true hero.