Simon Wiesenthal

Q & A

September 16, 1990

Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal, 81, a concentration-camp survivor, was responsible for finding Adolf Eichmann, as well as the SS officer who arrested Anne Frank. In "Justice Not Vengeance" (Grove Weidenfeld), he tells his life story.

Q: Why have you devoted your life to bringing Nazis to justice?

A: When I was liberated, I didn't know that my wife was alive. I thought I had no one left in the world and that there was no reason for me to live. Then I learned about the War Crimes Office. It was a chance for me to help. I went to them day after day asking them to let me join. They asked me what my weight was. It was 90 pounds, but I lied and told them it was 120. Two weeks after my liberation, they accepted me. I felt it was my duty as a survivor. I felt I should do something for the future. Because, if not, history can repeat itself. So I'll continue. We recently brought a man to trial, 48 years after his crimes. He was arrested 9,000 miles from the place where the crimes were committed.

Q: What do you say to the people who say, "The war is over; forget it"?

A: If a man slapped you on the face 20 years ago, you will never forget it and you may never forgive him. But we are asked to forgive for the millions who were killed. Everyone has the right to forgive crimes against himself, but no one is authorized to forgive for the crimes against others. I was recently told, "Mr. Wiesenthal, you're an old man looking for other old men." I said, "Only half is true. I am old, but I'm looking for murderers who have become old."

Q: Why do you continue to live in Vienna, a city that has such bitter memories for you?

A: I feel it's my duty to do my work in this place. It's not so easy

for me, you can believe me. But I'm doing it because I feel I should.

Q: Are you surprised that the neo-Nazi movement continues around the world?

A: No. A part of the Nazi spirit survived Hitler.

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