Shalom Life | April 19, 2015

Jewish Hall of Fame: Simon Wiesenthal

The Holocaust survivor, author, and Nazi hunter will forever be remembered for his contributions to the Jewish community

By: Caitlin Marceau

Published: December 3rd, 2014 in News » World

Jewish Hall of Fame: Simon Wiesenthal

Since the dawn of time, Jewish people have contributed greatly to various fields, from sports to entertainment to politics to porn. With our Breakthrough Jew feature, we recognize those who are up and comers in these various industries, identifying those great innovators and leaders in the contemporary world who are making a mark on society that will last a lifetime.

With the Jewish Hall of Fame, we recognize the remarkable advancements members of our community have made on today's society. These are people who have truly changed the world, and have earned the respect and praise of the members of today's younger generation.

ShalomLife’s Jewish Hall of Fame is our ongoing tribute to the greatest Jews who have ever lived; be sure to catch us weekly with our latest inductees, and tweet us @ShalomLife with your suggestions.

Check out last week's inductee into the Hall of Fame here.

Hall of Fame Member: Simon Wiesenthal

Born: December 31st, 1908, in Buczacz, Galicia.

Died: September 20th, 2005, in Vienna, Austria.

When naming people whose work have helped shape the world, Simon Wiesenthal’s name may not be one that often comes to mind. However this author, Nazi hunter, Holocaust survivor, and activist is certainly an individual whose contribution to society will long be remembered and commended.

Wiesenthal was born in Buczacz, Galicia, formerly a part of the Austro-Hungarian empire but now recognized as Buchach, Ukraine. Born to a Jewish family, they often suffered persecution and anti-Semitism in the years following the first World War, which his father fought and died in as a member of the Austrian Army. He was even injured by an occupying soldier when he was young, which resulted in permanent scarring.

From 1928 until 1932, Wiesenthal studied architectural engineering at the Czech Technical University in Prague. He’d originally wanted to attend Lviv Polytechnic, but was turned away when their Jewish quota was full. In the late 30’s, Wiesenthal married his high school girlfriend, Cyla Muller, and established his own practice.

Several years later, the area became occupied by the Soviet Union, and Wiesenthal was forced to give up his business and work in a bedspring factory. He, and his wife, were supposed to be sent to Siberia during this time, but managed to bribe his way out of deportation. Unfortunately, this same area was soon under German occupation, and in 1941 both Wiesenthal and Muller were sent to work at the German Eastern Railway plants. Because Muller was able to pass as Polish, she was smuggled out of the labour camp.

During the Second World War, Wiesenthal was relocated to several different camps while imprisoned by the Nazis. He managed to escape, but was soon recaptured. He also attempted suicide twice during this time, but was kept alive. In 1944 he was transferred to Janowska camp, then then Mauthausen in Austria. It was this final camp that he would be released from in 1945 by a U.S. battalion. Severely malnourished after his ordeal, Wiesenthal eventually recovered and was reunited with his wife by the end of the year.

Upon his release from the Mauthausen camp, he dedicated the remainder of his life to hunting down Nazi war criminals, as well as educating people on the horrors of the Holocaust. Between 1947 and 1954, he ran the Jewish Documentation Center in Linz. He’s also credited with playing a key role in the arrest of Adolf Eichmann in 1961, one of the designers of “the final solution,” as well as the arrest of death camp commander Franz Stangl amongst others. Perhaps the most notable man caught with Wiesenthal’s help is Karl Silberbauer, notorious for arresting Anne Frank. He then went on to direct the Jewish Documentation Center in Vienna, and then founding the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles in 1977.

Wiesenthal also used his personal experiences to fuel his literary success. In 1967, he published the book entitled The Murderers Among Us: The Wiesenthal Memoirs, and The Sunflower: On The Possibilities And Limits Of Forgiveness two years later, and Justice Not Vengeance: Recollections in 1989. He was also an activist who sought greater involvement by the government to help capture, and prosecute, Nazi war criminals, as well as his continual fight to expose the horrible truth of what happened during the Holocaust in order to keep something like this from ever happening again.

Wiesenthal has received the Luxembourg Medals of Freedom, the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor, and the Grand Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. In addition to dozens of honors and accolades, Wiesenthal was knighted by the Queen in 2004, but sadly passed away the following year.

Hamas to Gazans: Kidnap More Israelis Hamas to Gazans: Kidnap More Israelis TrendingLong Island Students Caught Wearing Incredibly anti-Semitic Shirts While Drinking Underage Long Island Students Caught Wearing Incredibly anti-Semitic Shirts While Drinking Underage Trending400 Torontonians Join Jews From Across the Globe in Poland on March of the Living 400 Torontonians Join Jews From Across the Globe in Poland on March of the Living Trending
 

Netanyahu, Amy Schumer, Sarah Koenig and Others Make TIME's 100 Most Influential People

April 17, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Netanyahu, Amy Schumer, Sarah Koenig and Others Make TIME's 100 Most Influential People

Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Diane von Furstenberg, Kevin Hart, Lorne Michaels, and many more make the 12th annual list

Read More

Israeli Defense Firm Creates System to Detect Terror Tunnels

April 17, 2015 | By JNS.org
Israeli Defense Firm Creates System to Detect Terror Tunnels

Elbit Systems developed the new tunnel-detection system together with the Israeli Defense Ministry and other partners in Israel

Read More

Rabbis, Mental Health Professionals Holding Conference to Support Young LGBT Jews

April 17, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Rabbis, Mental Health Professionals Holding Conference to Support Young LGBT Jews

Conference to be held in Israel this Sunday will bring Orthodox rabbinical community, and the therapeutic community, together in support of LGBT teens

Read More

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s Trip to Israel Cost Them $1 Million

April 17, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s Trip to Israel Cost Them $1 Million

Mind you, they were only there for a couple days

Read More

Hamas to Gazans: Kidnap More Israelis

April 17, 2015 | By JNS.org
Hamas to Gazans: Kidnap More Israelis

"Our men, our women, our children [should] always think of kidnapping your soldiers and settlers, wherever they may be"

Read More

You Could Be The Next Goldstar Beer Taste Tester. Seriously.

April 17, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
You Could Be The Next Goldstar Beer Taste Tester. Seriously.

The company is need of a new chief beer tester, and is turning to the Israeli public for help

Read More

The Kosher Switch May Not Be So Kosher After All

April 17, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
The Kosher Switch May Not Be So Kosher After All

Marketed as a way to keep kosher during the Shabbat, many rabbinical sources fear the Kosher Switch may rely on a Jewish loophole to keep "kosher"

Read More

David Blatt Has NBA's Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

April 17, 2015 | By Bob Jacob/Cleveland Jewish News/JNS.org
David Blatt Has NBA's Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

"It's a great time to be in the city of Cleveland," says the Israeli Head Coach, whose team squares off against the Celtics on Sunday

Read More

More Headlines