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Friday, February 20, 2004
Simon Wiesenthal knighted
Holocaust survivor is honoured for a life's
work, reports Sean O'Neill
SIMON Wiesenthal, the
Holocaust survivor who has devoted his life to
bringing Nazi war criminals to justice, was awarded
an honorary knighthood by the Queen
The Foreign Office said the award was made "in
recognition of a lifetime of service to
Mr Wiesenthal, 95, uncovered the evidence that
led to the execution of Adolf Eichmann, who
supervised the implementation of Hitler's Final
Solution. He also tracked down Karl
Silberbauer, the Gestapo officer who arrested
Frank, the schoolgirl whose diary became
his age, Mr Wiesenthal still works, attending the
sparsely-furnished rooms from which he and a staff
of three run the Jewish Documentation Centre in
His mission is aided by the
network of Simon
Wiesenthal centres in the United States, Europe and
The honorary KBE is intended to recognise the
value of Mr Wiesenthal's work to Jewish communities
from Austria, Germany and central Europe, who made
their post-war homes in Britain
Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary,
[Straw (right) with friend] said:
"Mr Wiesenthal has been untiring in his service to
the Jewish communities in the UK and elsewhere by
helping to right at least some of the awful wrongs
of the Holocaust.
"If there is one name which symbolises this
vital coming to terms with the past it is Simon
Mr Wiesenthal was born in Buczacz in the Ukraine
in December 1908 and became an architect in Lvov
after training at Prague University.
He married his wife, Cyla, in 1936 and lived
happily until 1939 when the Nazi-Soviet pact saw
the Red Army invade Lvov and begin a persecution of
the Jewish community. When the Nazis arrived in
1941, his family was sent to a concentration camp
and then into forced labour.
Mr Wiesenthal believes that 89 members of his and
his wife's extended families died in the genocide.
Mrs Wiesenthal survived, with the help of the
Polish resistance, because her blonde hair allowed
her to pass herself off as an Aryan.
ONLY the meanest spirit
could possibly see Jack Straw's
award of the knighthood in our helpless
Queen's name as a cynical move designed to
attract back to the Labour party the votes
that might otherwise flock to the Jewish
chief of the opposition Conservative
The real reason
is quite clearly to boost the Labour
party's depleted election coffers, which
are traditionally dependent on slush funds
from Israel brought back by Blair's bagman
Lord Levy from Israel. Hence
Tony Blair's mealy mouthed refusal
-- most recently at Question Time in
Parliament last week -- to suggest that
Israel too, after Iraq and Libya, should
have her weapons of mass destruction
brought under United Nations control.
Yes, what goes around
comes around: in this case under that
useful phrase, Instrumentalisation of the
Which means dining out
on it, M'lud.
She was separated from
her husband, who was found barely alive when
American troops liberated Mauthausen camp in
Austria in May 1945.
As soon as his health was restored, Mr
Wiesenthal began gathering evidence on Nazi
atrocities to help the US army's war crimes
investigators. Late in 1945 he was reunited with
In the 1950s the Cold War dampened the Allies'
enthusiasm for Nazi-hunting. Mr Wiesenthal passed
his files to the Israeli authorities, save for one.
He doggedly pursued tip-offs that Eichmann
was in Argentina, leading to the Gestapo
technocrat's arrest, trial and execution.
Silberbauer was found working as a police
inspector in Austria. Franz Strangl, [sic:
Stangl] commandant of Treblinka
camp, was traced to Brazil after three years of
investigative work and imprisoned in West Germany
Mr Wiesenthal was a consultant on the 1978 film
The Boys from Brazil in which Sir
Laurence Olivier played a character styled
on the Nazi-hunter.
Mr Wiesenthal's reputation brought him constant
death threats and hate mail and in 1982 a bomb
exploded at the front door of his home.
It has also gained him recognition from
governments around the world, including the United
States Congressional Gold Medal and the Legion
Mr Wiesenthal was unavailable for comment
yesterday but his achievements might be summed up
by a remark he made 10 years ago: "The only value
of nearly five decades of my work is a warning to
the murderers of tomorrow that they will never
rest."© Copyright of
Telegraph Group Limited 2004.
dossier on the Wiesenthal Center and its