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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 September 2005, 20:32 GMT 21:32 UK
Vienna bids goodbye to Wiesenthal
Simon Wiesenthal in a 1999 file photo
Wiesenthal: Hailed as the 'conscience of the Holocaust'
Hundreds of mourners have attended a memorial service in Austria's capital Vienna for renowned Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, who died on Tuesday.

Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel and Vienna Mayor Michael Haeupl were among those who joined the service at the city's Central Cemetery.

Mr Wiesenthal's body is to be flown to Israel for burial on Friday.

The Holocaust survivor devoted much of his life to tracking down Nazi war criminals, including Adolf Eichmann.

Wiesenthal was not a powerful man, yet he took on the mantle in order to make the world a more just place
Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel
At the simple service, Mr Wiesenthal's coffin was draped in a plain black cloth. Wreaths of flowers, with blue and white ribbons representing Israel, stood nearby.

"Wiesenthal was not a powerful man, yet he took on the mantle in order to make the world a more just place," Mr Schuessel said as he addressed the congregation.

Vienna's Grand Rabbi Paul Chaim Eisenberg also gave a brief address before a cantor said the kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead.

Other guests included the ambassadors of Israel, the UK and the US, as well as Roman Catholic Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn.

Life-long campaign

Earlier, the secretary general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, said Mr Wiesenthal had sent an important message to the world that there should be no impunity for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Simon Wiesenthal, 1973 archive photo

Mr Wiesenthal's death was announced by officials at the US-based Simon Wiesenthal Center.

He died in his sleep at his home, according to Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the centre, which campaigns against anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance.

"Simon Wiesenthal was the conscience of the Holocaust," Mr Hier said.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said: "Simon Wiesenthal's passing saddens us all. He was a champion in the fight to bring to justice the 20th Century's worst criminals who had escaped justice."

Final Solution leader

Mr Wiesenthal, who grew up in Ukraine, was a prisoner in the Mauthausen death camp when it was liberated by US troops in May 1945, but dozens of his family members - including his mother, stepfather and stepbrother - died in the Holocaust.

HAVE YOUR SAY
He is a fine role model of what one person can achieve in the fight against evil
Roger Bradshaw, Bristol, UK

In the 1950s, he helped to track down Eichmann, one of the chief architects of Adolf Hitler's Final Solution aimed at eliminating the Jews, in Argentina.

In 1960, Eichmann was abducted there by Israeli agents and subsequently tried, convicted and executed in Israel.

Six million Jews were murdered in the Nazi death camps of World War II, along with thousands of Gypsies, homosexuals, disabled people and political dissidents.





SEE ALSO:
In pictures: Wiesenthal mourned
21 Sep 05 |  In Pictures
Obituary: Simon Wiesenthal
20 Sep 05 |  Europe
In pictures: Simon Wiesenthal
20 Sep 05 |  In Pictures
Last hunt for old Nazis launched
26 Jan 05 |  Americas


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