Simon Wiesenthal (second from the right) giving testimony at Yad Vashem 24/10/1960
Simon Wiesenthal during a visit to Yad Vashem 1985
20 September 2005
Yad Vashem has learned with sadness of the passing of Simon Wiesenthal, in Vienna. Wiesenthal dedicated his life to bringing Nazi criminals to justice and to ensuring that the memory of the Holocaust will never fade.
The symbol of “Nazi-Hunting,” Wiesenthal began his mission immediately after the war ended, and did not rest until his final days. Through his tireless efforts, many Nazi war criminals were prevented from escaping their due punishment, compelled instead to face the force of international law. He was unique in an environment that did not do enough to bring the guilty to justice.
Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate, Avner Shalev expressed “deep appreciation for Wiesenthal's activities, on behalf of the Jewish People,” and said his contributions should be recognized world-wide. “In his determination to expose the crimes of Nazis, Wiesenthal was the world’s conscience, determined to document the full extent of Nazi war crimes, and hold those responsible accountable for their actions. Yad Vashem mourns this tremendous loss to the Jewish and international community,” Shalev said.
In 1955, Wiesenthal gave Yad Vashem material from the Jewish Historical Documentation Center in Linz, Austria, which he closed, consisting of close to a thousand files containing tens of thousands of pages.
The archives that he handed over to Yad Vashem include original Nazi documents and copies signed by Wiesenthal referring to Nazi policies, planning of the Jewish legislation and bringing it to action, and planning and implementation of the “Final Solution”.
The archive also contains lists of war criminals and information cards of criminals organized according to concentration camps and to locations where the crimes were perpetrated, and correspondence with Jewish organizations and committees regarding war criminals and their capture. Additionally, the archive contains original material on the lives of survivors in DP camps, on migration and settling of Jewish survivors in Austria after the war, the establishment of the Jewish community in Vienna and the task of commemorating the Holocaust.
In October 1960 Wiesenthal gave Yad Vashem a written personal testimony, and in December 1986 he gave Yad Vashem audio testimony.