SIMON WIESENTHAL was born on this date in the small Ukrainian town of Buczacz. Trained as an architectural engineer, Wiesenthal survived the Nazi concentration camps losing over eighty members of his extended family and dedicated the rest of his life to seeking justice for all those who died by bringing Nazi war criminals to justice. He was later celebrated as a “Nazi-hunter” and portrayed by Laurence Olivier in “The Boys from Brazil,” but for many years, as Cold War governments had forgotten about Nazi atrocities,
Wiesenthal was a veritable prophet in the wilderness, tirelessly working in the memory of all those who had died. He wrote a number of bestselling books including “Murders Among Us,” “Justice, Not Vengeance,” and “The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness.” Through his efforts countless Nazi criminals stood trial. Without Wiesenthal’s activity and vision, there would not have been war crimes hearings about Rwanda, Bosnia, or a permanent War Crimes tribunal in the Hague.
For the sake of this Gay Wisdom listserve, we would point out that Wiesenthal spoke for all those who had lost their lives and was an early outspoken activist for the thousands of homosexuals who died in the holocaust, pointing out that they had all been buried together in mass graves and should all be acknowledged. Wiesenthal died of natural causes in 2005 at the age 96.
Recent events remind us that we are still not out of the woods with respect to facsist politics and that we must all remain as vigilant as Wiesenthal.