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Last Updated: Friday, 18 April, 2003, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
Nazi hunter Wiesenthal to retire
Simon Wiesenthal
Wiesenthal himself survived the Nazi concentration camps
Renowned Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal says he is to retire after spending most of his life tracking down perpetrators of the Holocaust.

Mr Wiesenthal, himself imprisoned in several Nazi concentration camps during World War II, is credited for bringing several high-profile members of the Nazi leadership to justice.

But in an interview with an Austrian magazine Mr Wiesenthal, who is now 94, said he felt that his work was complete.

"My job is done," he told Format magazine.

"I found the mass murderers I was looking for. I survived all of them.

"Those whom I didn't look for are too old and sick today to be pursued legally."

Long career

Mr Wiesenthal said that despite his long career he felt that some people did not appreciate the gravity of the Nazi regime's crimes.

Adolf Eichmann
Wiesenthal's information led to Nazi criminal Eichmann being captured

"It is very difficult to get the public to really understand the crimes of these people," he said.

"Still I have to bother with people and groups that claim that the Holocaust never happened."

Mr Wiesenthal spent decades chasing more than 1,000 Nazi war criminals responsible for some of the most appalling atrocities of the 20th Century.

Born in the town of Buczacz in what is now Ukraine, he found himself in the middle of the Nazi occupation in 1941.

Despite successfully smuggling his wife to safety he was soon shipped off to a succession of concentration camps.

He survived the infamous Mauthausen death camp, but later learned that a total of 89 members of his family had been killed by the Nazis.

Notable captures

At the end of the war, Mr Wiesenthal began the painstaking task of poring over hundreds of thousands of documents for the US Army's war crimes unit until interest in capturing Nazi war criminals waned.

In the 1950s, he was instrumental in finding Adolf Hitler's associate Adolf Eichmann living under an assumed name in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Eichmann had supervised much of the "Final Solution", the horrific plan that sent millions of European Jews to their deaths.

His capture by Israeli agents - and his subsequent trial and execution in 1961 - encouraged Mr Wiesenthal, who opened the Jewish Documentation Center in Vienna, devoted exclusively to information on war criminals.

Information from his centre also led to the capture of, among others, Karl Silberbauer, the Gestapo police officer who had arrested the teenage diarist Anne Frank and her family.

And in 1977 the Simon Wiesenthal Center was established as an international Jewish human rights organisation in Los Angeles, California.

"The only value of nearly five decades of my work is a warning to the murderers of tomorrow, that they will never rest," he told the Washington Post newspaper in 1994.


SEE ALSO:
Simon Wiesenthal: Nazi-hunter
28 Dec 99  |  UK News


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