Laura and I are saddened by the death of Simon Wiesenthal, a tireless and passionate advocate who devoted his life to tracking down Nazi killers and promoting freedom. Simon Wiesenthal lost 89 relatives in the Holocaust, yet he survived the death camps himself. He gathered intelligence to be used in war crimes trials and also passed on important information that led to the conviction of Adolf Eichmann. Throughout his long career, he relentlessly pursued those responsible for some of the most horrific crimes against humanity the world has ever known. Simon Wiesenthal fought for justice, and history will always remember him.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the International Human Rights NGO named in Mr. Wiesenthal’s honor said of him:
"Simon Wiesenthal was the conscience of the Holocaust. When the Holocaust ended in 1945 and the whole world went home to forget, he alone remained behind to remember. He did not forget.
He became the permanent representative of the victims, determined to bring the perpetrators of the history’s greatest crime to justice. There was no press conference, and no president, prime minister, or world leader that announced his appointment. He just took the job. It was a job no one else wanted.
The task was overwhelming. The cause had few friends. The Allies were already focused on the Cold War, the survivors were rebuilding their shattered lives and Simon Wiesenthal was all alone, combining the role of both prosecutor and detective at the same time. Overcoming the world’s indifference and apathy, Simon Wiesenthal helped bring over 1,100 Nazi War Criminals before the bar of Justice."
For me personally, I remember visiting the Wiesenthal Center in 1992 while on the USY on Wheels program and then again in 1993 at USY International Convention in Los Angeles. I also have fond memories of sitting on my bed one Shabbat afternoon at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin in 1997 and reading The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness. No other man has made such an impact on this world by fighting hate and promoting tolerance. May his memory be for a blessing and may his legacy be eternal.