Calling evil to account

September 22, 2005

SIMON WIESENTHAL, who dedicated his life to not allowing the world to forget the extraordinary atrocities committed by Nazi Germany, will himself be long remembered for his extraordinary moral courage. He served all of humanity by calling evil to account.

Mr. Wiesenthal, who died Tuesday at 96, somehow survived the horror of years in Nazi death camps (and two suicide attempts) to then summon the strength to pursue the surviving perpetrators of the Holocaust to the ends of the earth - in some cases, for decades.

His singular commitment was even more remarkable in that, with the end of World War II, much of the world seemed to want to forget, rather than seek justice for the 6 million Jews and millions of non-Jews who died in German camps.

Mr. Wiesenthal could not and would not forget. His work brought him worldwide renown and controversy. But it also brought to justice hundreds of former Nazis who had blood on their hands, including Adolf Eichmann, the banal functionary of the Final Solution.

More widely, Mr. Wiesenthal made sure that the Holocaust did not fade from the world's conscience. He once said his work was not so much about the murdering that had taken place but was a "warning to the murderers of tomorrow that they will never rest." With Mr. Wiesenthal's death, it becomes even clearer that that warning has always been up to each of us.

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