domingo, 1 de fevereiro de 2009
SIMON WIESENTHAL-FRAUDULENT NAZI HUNTER.
UK & Euro-Asian News
The head Nazi-hunter's trail of lies
Guy WaltersThe Sunday TimesSun, 19 Jul 2009 05:21 UTC
Simon Wiesenthal, famed for his pursuit of justice, caught fewer war criminals than he claimed and fabricated much of his own Holocaust story Since the early 1960s Simon Wiesenthal's name has become synonymous with Nazi hunting. His standing is that of a secular saint. Nominated four times for the Nobel peace prize, the recipient of a British honorary knighthood, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the French Légion d'honneur and at least 53 other distinctions, he was often credited with some 1,100 Nazi "scalps". He is remembered, above all, for his efforts to track down Adolf Eichmann, one of the most notorious war criminals. His reputation is built on sand, however. He was a liar - and a bad one at that. From the end of the second world war to the end of his life in 2005, he would lie repeatedly about his supposed hunt for Eichmann as well as his other Nazi-hunting exploits. He would also concoct outrageous stories about his war years and make false claims about his academic career. There are so many inconsistencies between his three main memoirs and between those memoirs and contemporaneous documents, that it is impossible to establish a reliable narrative from them. Wiesenthal's scant regard for the truth makes it possible to doubt everything he ever wrote or said. Some may feel I am too harsh on him and that I run a professional danger in seemingly allying myself with a vile host of neo-Nazis, revisionists, Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites. I belong firmly outside any of these squalid camps and it is my intention to wrestle criticism of Wiesenthal away from their clutches. His figure is a complex and important one. If there was a motive for his duplicity, it may well have been rooted in good intentions. For his untruths are not the only shocking discoveries I have made researching the escape of Nazi war criminals. I found a lack of political will for hunting them. Many could have been brought to justice had governments allocated even comparatively meagre resources to their pursuit. It is partly thanks to Wiesenthal that the Holocaust has been remembered and properly recorded and this is perhaps his greatest legacy. He did bring some Nazis to justice; but it was in nothing like the quantity that is claimed and Eichmann was certainly not among them. There is no space here, however, for my forensic examination of his claims as a Nazi hunter. I will confine myself to some famous episodes before and during the war that are at the heart of the Wiesenthal myth. He was born in 1908 in Buczacz, Galicia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and now in Ukraine. After the first world war, Buczacz changed hands frequently between Poles, Ukrainians and Soviet forces. In 1920 the 11-year-old Wiesenthal was attacked with a sabre by a mounted Ukrainian who slashed his right thigh to the bone. Wiesenthal regarded the scar as part of a long line of evidence that he was protected from violent death by an "unseen power" that wanted him kept alive for a purpose. His background was ideal for any aspiring fabulist. Like many from Galicia, Wiesenthal would have spent his childhood immersed in the Polish literary genre of tall stories told over the dinner table. In a place such as Buczacz in the 1920s, truth was a relatively elastic concept. At 19 he enrolled as an architectural student at the Czech Technical University in Prague, where he found his metier as a raconteur and appeared as a stand-up comedian. His studies went less well. Although most biographies - including that on the Simon Wiesenthal Center's website - say he graduated, he did not complete his degree. Some biographies say he gained a diploma as an architectural engineer at Lvov polytechnic in Poland, but the Lvov state archives have no record of his having studied there and his name is absent from Poland's pre-war catalogue of architects and builders. He claimed fraudulently throughout his life that he did have a diploma; his letterheads proudly display it. Similarly, there are large discrepancies in his dramatic stories of the second world war. He was in Lvov when it fell to the Nazis in 1941. He claimed he and a Jewish friend called Gross were arrested at 4pm on Sunday July 6, one of the few dates that remain constant in his ever-shifting life story. Whenever he is so specific, however, he is usually lying. Frogmarched to prison, they were put in a line of some 40 other Jews in a courtyard. Ukrainian auxiliary police started shooting each man in the neck, working their way down the line towards Wiesenthal. He was saved by a peal of church bells signifying evening mass. Incredibly, the Ukrainians halted their execution to go to worship. The survivors were led to the cells, where Wiesenthal claims he fell asleep. He was woken by a Ukrainian friend in the auxiliary police who saved him and Gross by telling them to pretend they were Russian spies. They were brutally questioned - Wiesenthal lost two teeth - but were freed after cleaning the commandant's office. The story of this sensational escape - one of the most famous of Wiesenthal's war and one that has helped to establish the notion of his divine mission - is in all likelihood a complete fabrication. Certainly the Ukrainians carried out brutal pogroms in Lvov in early July 1941; but there was then a pause and they did not start again until July 25. According to testimony Wiesenthal gave to American war crimes investigators after the war, he was actually arrested on July 13 and managed to escape "through a bribe". By subsequently placing his arrest on July 6, his story fitted the timing of the pogroms. By the end of the year Wiesenthal was in Janowska, a concentration camp outside Lvov. Given the task of painting Soviet railway engines with Nazi insignia, he made friends with Adolf Kohlrautz, the German senior inspector at the workshop, who was secretly anti-Nazi. On April 20, 1943, Wiesenthal was apparently selected for a mass execution again. The SS at Janowska picked him among some Jews to be shot in a grim celebration of Hitler's 54th birthday. They silently walked towards a huge sandpit, 6ft deep and 1,500ft long. A few dead bodies were visible in it. Forced to undress, they were herded in single file down a barbed-wire corridor known as the hose to be shot one by one at the edge of the pit. A whistle interrupted the gunshots, followed by a shout of "Wiesenthal!" An SS man called Koller ran forward and told Wiesenthal to follow him. "I staggered like a drunk," Wiesenthal recalled. "Koller slapped my face twice and brought me back to earth. I was walking back through the hose, naked. Behind me, the sounds of shooting resumed but they were over long before I had reached the camp." Back at the workshop he found a beaming Kohlrautz, who had convinced the camp commander it was essential to keep Wiesenthal alive to paint a poster that would feature a swastika and the words "We Thank Our Führer". On October 2, 1943, according to Wiesenthal, Kohlrautz warned him that the camp and its prisoners were shortly to be liquidated. The German gave him and a friend passes to visit a stationery shop in town, accompanied by a Ukrainian guard. They managed to escape out the back while the Ukrainian waited at the front. Yet again he had seemingly cheated death in a miraculous fashion. But we only have his word for it. According to Wiesenthal, Kohlrautz was killed in the battle for Berlin in April 1945. He also told a biographer, however, that Kohlrautz was killed on the Russian front in 1944. And in an affidavit made in August 1954 about his wartime persecutions, he neglects to include the story at all. In both this document and in his testimony to the Americans in May 1945, he mentions Kohlrautz without saying the German saved his life. From this point in Wiesenthal's war it is impossible to establish a reliable train of events. With at least four wildly different accounts of his activities between October 1943 and the middle of 1944 - including his alleged role as a partisan officer - serious questions must be raised. Some, such as Bruno Kreisky, the former Austrian chancellor, repeatedly accused Wiesenthal in the 1970s and the 1980s of collaborating with the Gestapo. Kreisky's claims were supported by unsubstantiated evidence from the Polish and Soviet governments. Wiesenthal took him to court and won. Whatever the truth, by November 1944 Wiesenthal was in Gross-Rosen, a camp near Wroclaw. He told Hella Pick, his biographer, that he was forced to work barefoot in the camp quarry and soon learnt that the team of 100 prisoners assigned to the work kommando shrank by one each day. After a few days he felt sure his turn was about to come. "My executioner was behind me," he recalled, "poised to smash my head with a rock. I turned around and the man, surprised, dropped his stone. It crushed my toe. I screamed." Wiesenthal's quick reactions and yell apparently saved his life because there was some form of inspection that day - he thought it may have been by the Red Cross - and so he was stretchered away to the first-aid station. His toe was cut off without anaesthesia while two men held him still. The following day, Wiesenthal said, he was in agony. "The doctor came back and saw that I had a septic blister on the sole of my foot. So they cut it open and the gangrene spurted all over the room." Yet again, one of Wiesenthal's "miracles" is open to doubt. First, the story appears in no other memoir or statement. Secondly, if the Red Cross really was inspecting Gross-Rosen that day, then the SS would have temporarily halted any executions. As it was, the Red Cross was not allowed access to concentration camps at that time. Thirdly, the medical consequences seem entirely implausible. Soon afterwards, according to Wiesenthal's account, he managed to walk 170 miles west to Chemnitz after Gross-Rosen was evacuated. Walking on a gangrenous foot with a recently amputated toe would have been hellish. Instead of a shoe, he had the sleeve of an old coat wrapped around his foot with some wire. For a walking stick he had a broomstick. Of the 6,000 prisoners who marched out, only 4,800 arrived in Chemnitz. With his infected foot, Wiesenthal was lucky to be among them. From Chemnitz, the prisoners ended up at Mauthausen camp near Linz in Austria. Wiesenthal arrived there on the frozen night of February 15, 1945. In The Murderers Among Us, he tells how he and a fellow prisoner, Prince Radziwill, linked arms to make the last four miles uphill to the camp. The effort was too great and they collapsed in the snow. An SS man fired a shot that landed between them. As the two men did not get up, they were left for dead in the sub-zero temperature. When lorries arrived to collect those who had died on the march, the unconscious Wiesenthal and Radziwill were so frozen that they were thrown onto a pile of corpses. At the crematorium, however, the prisoners unloading them realised they were alive. They were given a cold shower to thaw out and Wiesenthal was taken to Block VI, the "death block" for the mortally ill. In 1961, when Wiesenthal was interviewed for the Yad Vashem archive by the Israeli journalist Haim Maas about his war years, Wiesenthal mentioned that the infection from his foot had now turned blue-green and had spread right up to his knee. He lay in the death block for three months until the end of the war. Too weak to get out of bed, he claimed he survived - incredibly - on 200 calories a day, along with the occasional piece of bread or sausage smuggled to him by a friendly Pole. Mauthausen was liberated on May 5, 1945. Despite weighing just 100lb, Wiesenthal struggled outside to greet the American tanks. "I don't know how I managed to get up and walk," he recalled. If he was able to walk, his severely infected leg must have been cured during the previous three months by either amputation or antibiotics. We know the former did not take place, and the latter was emphatically not a common treatment for ailing Jews in Nazi concentration camps. Once again, it appears as though a miracle had taken place. The rapidity of Wiesenthal's recovery is so astonishing that it is doubtful whether he was as ill as he claimed. Just 20 days after the liberation, he wrote to the US camp commander asking whether he could be involved in assisting the US authorities investigating war crimes. Claiming to have been in 13 concentration camps - he had in fact been in no more than six - Wiesenthal supplied a list of 91 names of those who he felt were responsible for "incalculable sufferings". According to most accounts, Wiesenthal asked if he could join the American war crimes investigators, but they refused, telling him he was not well enough. After he had gained some weight, he returned and was assigned to a captain with whom Wiesenthal claimed to have captured his first "scalp", a snivelling SS guard called Schmidt. "There were many others in the weeks that followed," Wiesenthal later wrote. "You didn't have to go far. You almost stumbled over them." A curriculum vitae Wiesenthal completed after the war does not mention his work for the Americans but lists his occupation as the vice-chairman of the Jewish Central Committee for the US zone, based in Linz. Its task was to draw up lists of survivors that other survivors could consult in their hunt for relatives. For at least a year after the war, Wiesenthal's other task was to lobby hard for his fellow Jews; he became president of the Paris-based International Concentration Camp Organisation. He also forged contacts with the Brichah, which smuggled Jews out of Europe to Palestine. It was not until February 1947 that he formed the organisation that would make him famous, the Jewish Historical Documentation Centre in Linz. Its aim was to collate information on the final solution with a view to securing the indictments of war criminals. Wiesenthal claimed to have started it because of an anti-Semitic remark made by an American officer, which made him realise that the allies would never hunt down the Nazis to the extent that was required. Sadly, he was to be proved right. He and his band of 30 volunteers travelled around the displaced persons' camps, collecting evidence on the atrocities from former concentration camp inmates. In all, Wiesenthal's team compiled 3,289 questionnaires, which is a far more impressive feat than anything the allies achieved. Wiesenthal died in 2005 at the age of 96 and was buried in Israel. The tributes and eulogies were many and fulsome and at the time it would have been churlish to have detracted from the many positive aspects of the role he played. He was at heart a showman and when he found a role as the world's head Nazi hunter, he played it well. As with so many popular performances, it was impossible for the critics to tell the public that the Great Wiesenthal Show was little more than an illusion. Ultimately, it was an illusion mounted for a good cause. Extracted from Hunting Evil by Guy Walters, to be published by Transworld on July 30
Simon Wiesenthal: Fraudulent 'Nazi Hunter'
By Mark Weber
For more than 40 years, Simon Wiesenthal has been tracking hundreds of "Nazi criminals" from his "Jewish Documentation Center" in Vienna. For his work as the world's most prominent "Nazi hunter," he has been awarded several honorary degrees and numerous medals, including Germany's highest decoration. In a formal White House ceremony in August 1980, a teary-eyed President Carter presented him with a special gold medal awarded by the US Congress. President Reagan praised him in November 1988 as one of the "true heroes" of this century.
This living legend was portrayed in flattering terms by the late Laurence Oliver in the 1978 film fantasy "The Boys From Brazil," and by Ben Kingsley in the 1989 HBO made-for-television movie "Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story." One of world's most prominent Holocaust organizations bears his name: the Simon Wiesenthal Center of Los Angeles.
Wiesenthal's reputation as a moral authority is undeserved. The man whom The Washington Post has called the "Holocaust's Avenging Angel"  has a little known but well-documented record of reckless disregard for truth. He has lied about his own wartime experiences, misrepresented his postwar "Nazi-hunting" achievements, and has spread vile falsehoods about alleged German atrocities.
Szymon (Simon) Wiesenthal was born on December 31, 1908, in Buczacz, a town in the province of Galicia (now Buchach in Ukraine) in what was then the eastern fringe of the Austro-Hungarian empire. His father was a prosperous wholesale sugar merchant.
In spite of all that has been written about him, just what Wiesenthal did during the war years under German occupation remains unclear. He has given conflicting stories in three separate accounts of his wartime activities. The first was given under oath during a two day interrogation session in May 1948 conducted by an official of the US Nuremberg war crimes commission.  The second is a summary of his life provided by Wiesenthal as part of a January 1949 "Application for Assistance" to the International Refugee Committee.  And the third account is given in his autobiography, The Murderers Among Us, first published in 1967. 
Soviet Engineer or Factory Mechanic?
In his 1948 interrogation, Wiesenthal declared that "between 1939 and 1941" he was a "Soviet chief engineer working in Lvov and Odessa."  Consistent with that, he stated in his 1949 declaration that from December 1939 to April 1940 he worked as an architect in the Black Sea port of Odessa. But according to his autobiography, he spent the period between mid-September 1939 and June 1941 in Soviet-ruled Lvov, where he worked "as a mechanic in a factory that produced bedsprings." 
After the Germans took control of Galicia province in June 1941, Wiesenthal was interned for a time in the Janowska concentration camp near Lvov, from where he was transferred a few months later to a camp affiliated with the repair works (OAW) in Lvov of the Ostbahn ("Eastern Railroad") of German-ruled Poland. Wiesenthal reported in his autobiography that he worked there "as a technician and draftsman," that he was rather well treated, and that his immediate superior, who was "secretly anti-Nazi," even permitted him to own two pistols. He had his own office in a "small wooden hut," and enjoyed "relative freedom and was permitted to walk all over the yards." 
The next segment of Wiesenthal's life -- from October 1943 to June 1944 -- is the most obscure, and his accounts of this period are contradictory. During his 1948 interrogation, Wiesenthal said that he fled from the Janowska camp in Lvov and joined a "partisan group which operated in the Tarnopol-Kamenopodolsk area."  He said that "I was a partisan from October 6, 1943, until the middle of February 1944," and declared that his unit fought against Ukrainian forces, both of the SS "Galicia" division and of the independent UPA partisan force. 
Wiesenthal said that he held the rank of lieutenant and then major, and was responsible for building bunkers and fortification lines. Although he was not explicit, he suggested that this (supposed) partisan unit was part of the Armia Ludowa ("Peoples Army"), the Polish Communist military force established and controlled by the Soviets. 
He said that he and other partisans slipped into Lvov in February 1944, where they were "hidden by friends of the A.L. ['People's Army'] group." On June 13, 1944, his group was captured by the German Secret Field Police. (Although Jewish partisans caught in hiding were often shot, Wiesenthal reports that he was somehow spared.) Wiesenthal told much the same story in his 1949 statement. He said that he fled from internment in early October 1943 and then "fought against the Germans as a partisan in the forest" for eight months -- from October 2, 1943, to March 1944. After that, he was "in hiding" in Lvov from March to June 1944.
Wiesenthal tells a totally different story in his 1967 autobiography. He reports there that after escaping from the Ostbahn Repair Works on Oct. 2, 1943, he lived in hiding in the houses of various friends until June 13, 1944, when he was discovered by Polish and German police and returned to a concentration camp. He makes no mention of any partisan membership or activity. 
According to both his 1948 interrogation and his 1967 autobiography, he tried to commit suicide on June 15, 1944, by cutting his wrists. Remarkably, though, he was saved from death by German SS doctors and recovered in an SS hospital.  He remained in the Lvov concentration camp "with double rations" for a time, and then, he reports in his autobiography, he was transferred to various work camps. He spent the remaining chaotic months, until the end of the war, in different camps until he was liberated from Mauthausen (in Austria) by American forces on May 5, 1945. 
Did Wiesenthal invent a past as a heroic wartime partisan? Or did he later try to suppress his record as a Communist fighter? Or is the true story altogether different -- and too shameful to admit?
Did Wiesenthal voluntarily work for his wartime oppressors? That's the accusation leveled by Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, himself of Jewish ancestry and leader for many years of his country's Socialist Party. During an interview with foreign journalists in 1975, Kreisky charged Wiesenthal with using "Mafia methods," rejected his pretense of "moral authority," and suggested that he was an agent for the German authorities. Some of his more pertinent remarks, which appeared in Austria's leading news magazine Profil, include: 
I really know Mr. Wiesenthal only from secret reports, and they are bad, very nasty. I say this as Federal Chancellor ... And I say that Mr. Wiesenthal had a different relationship with the Gestapo than I did. Yes, and this can be proven. I can't say more [now]. Everything else, I'll say in court.
My relationship with the Gestapo is unambiguous. I was their prisoner, their inmate, and I was interrogated. His relationship was a different one, I can say, and this will come out clearly. It's bad enough what I've already said here. But he can't clear himself by charging me with defaming his honor in the press, as he might wish. It's not that simple, because that would mean a big court case ... A man like this doesn't have the right to pretend to be a moral authority. That's what I say. He doesn't have the right ...
Whether a man who, in my view, is an agent, yes, that's right, and who uses Mafia methods ... Such a man has to go ...
He is no gentleman, and I would say, to make this clear, so that he won't become a moral authority, because he is not ... He shouldn't pretend to be a moral authority ...
I say that Mr. Wiesenthal lived in that time in the Nazi sphere of influence without being persecuted. Right? And he lived openly without being persecuted, right? Is that clear? And you perhaps know, if you know what was going on, that no one could risk that.
He wasn't a "submarine" ... that is, submerged and in hiding, but instead, he was completely in the open without having to, well, ever risk persecution. I think that's enough. There were so many opportunities to be an agent. He didn't have to be a Gestapo agent. There were many other services.
In response to these damning words, Wiesenthal began efforts to bring a lawsuit against the Chancellor. Eventually, though, both Wiesenthal and Kreisky backed away from a major legal clash.
Before he became famous as a "Nazi hunter," he made a name for himself as a propagandist. In 1946 Wiesenthal published KZ Mauthausen, an 85-page work that consists mainly of his own amateurish sketches purporting to represent the horrors of the Mauthausen concentration camp. One drawing depicts three inmates who had been bound to posts and brutally put to death by the Germans. 
The sketch is completely phony. It was copied -- with some minor alterations -- from photographs that appeared in Life magazine in 1945, which graphically record the firing-squad execution in December 1944 of three German soldiers who had been caught operating as spies behind the lines during the "Battle of the Bulge."  The source of the Wiesenthal drawing is instantly obvious to anyone who compares it with the Life photos. 
The irresponsible character of this book is also shown by Wiesenthal's extensive citation therein of the supposed "death bed confession" of Mauthausen Commandant Franz Ziereis, according to which four million were gassed to death with carbon monoxide at the nearby Hartheim satellite camp.  This claim is totally absurd, and no serious Holocaust historian still accepts it.  Also according to the Ziereis "confession" cited by Wiesenthal, the Germans supposedly killed another ten million people in Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.  In fact, this fraudulent "confession" was obtained by torture. 
Years later, Wiesenthal was still lying about Mauthausen. In a 1983 interview with the daily newspaper USA Today, he said of his experience in Mauthausen: "I was one of 34 prisoners alive out of 150,000 who had been put there."  This is a blatant falsehood. The years have apparently not been kind to Wiesenthal's memory, because in his own autobiography he wrote that "almost 3,000 prisoners died in Mauthausen after the Americans liberated us on May 5, 1945."  Another former inmate, Evelyn Le Chene, reported in her standard work about Mauthausen that there were 64,000 inmates in the camp when it was liberated in May 1945.  And according to the Encyclopaedia Judaica, at least 212,000 inmates survived internment in the Mauthausen camp complex. 
After the war Wiesenthal worked for the US Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner of the CIA) and the US Army's Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC). He was also vice chairman of the Jewish Central Committee in the US occupation zone of Austria. 
Wiesenthal has given circulation and credence to one of the most scurrilous Holocaust stories, the charge that the Germans manufactured soap from the corpses of murdered Jews. According to this tale, the letters "RIF" in bars of German-made soap allegedly stood for "Pure Jewish Fat" ("Rein judisches Fett"). In reality, the initials stood for "National Center for Industrial Fat Provisioning" ("Reichstelle fur industrielle Fettversorgung"). 
Wiesenthal promoted the "human soap" legend in articles published in 1946 in the Austrian Jewish community paper Der Neue Weg ("The New Path"). In an article entitled "RIF," he wrote: "The terrible words 'transport for soap' were first heard at the end of 1942. It was in the [Polish] General Government, and the factory was in Galicia, in Belzec. From April 1942 until May 1943, 900,000 Jews were used as raw material in this factory." After the corpses were turned into various raw materials, Wiesenthal wrote, "The rest, the residual fat stuff, was used for soap production."
He continued: "After 1942 people in the General Government knew quite well what the RIF soap meant. The civilized world may not believe the joy with which the Nazis and their women in the General Government thought of this soap. In each piece of soap they saw a Jew who had been magically put there, and had thus been prevented from growing into a second Freud, Ehrlich or Einstein." 
In another imaginative article published in 1946 entitled "Belzec Soap Factory," Wiesenthal alleged that masses of Jews were exterminated in electrocution showers: 
The people, pressed together and driven on by the SS, Latvians and Ukrainians, go through the open door into the "bath." Five hundred persons could fit at a time. The floor of the "bath chamber" was made of metal and shower heads hung from the ceiling. When the room was full, the SS turned on the 5,000 volts of electric current in the metal plate. At the same time water poured from the shower heads. A short scream and the execution was over. An SS chief physician named Schmidt determined through a peep hole that the victims were dead. The second door was opened and the "corpse commando" came in and quickly removed the dead. It was ready for the next 500.
Today no serious historian accepts the stories that Jewish corpses were manufactured into bars of soap or that Jews were electrocuted to death at Belzec (or anywhere).
Wiesenthal's imaginative view of history is not limited to the twentieth century. In his 1973 book Sails of Hope, he argued that Christopher Columbus was a secret Jew, and that his famous voyage to the western hemisphere in 1492 was actually a search for a new homeland for Europe's Jews. 
Wiesenthal is not always wrong, of course. In 1975 and again in 1993 he publicly acknowledged that "there were no extermination camps on German soil."  He thus implicitly conceded that the claims made at the postwar Nuremberg Tribunal and elsewhere that Buchenwald, Dachau and other camps in Germany proper were "extermination camps" are not true.
'Fabrications' About Eichmann
In more than 40 years of "Nazi hunting," Wiesenthal's role in locating and capturing Adolf Eichmann is often considered his greatest achievement.  (Eichmann headed the wartime SS Jewish affairs department. He was kidnapped by Israeli agents in Argentina in May 1960 and hanged in Jerusalem after a trial that received worldwide media attention.)
But Isser Harel, the Israeli official who headed the team that seized Eichmann, has declared unequivocally that Wiesenthal had "absolutely nothing" to do with the capture. (Harel is a former head of both the Mossad and Shin Bet, Israel's foreign and domestic security agencies.) 
Wiesenthal not only "had no role whatsoever" in the apprehension, said Harel, but in fact he endangered the entire Eichmann operation. In a 278-page manuscript, Harel carefully refuted every claim by Wiesenthal about his supposed role in identifying and capturing Eichmann. Claims by Wiesenthal and his many friends about his supposedly crucial role in capturing the former SS officer, said Harel, have no foundation in fact. Many specific assertions and incidents described in two books by Wiesenthal, said the Israeli official, are "complete fabrications." 
"Wiesenthal's reports and statements at that period prove beyond any doubt that he had no notion of Eichmann's whereabouts," said Harel.  (For example, just before Eichmann's capture in Argentina, Wiesenthal was placing him in Japan and Saudi Arabia.) 
Characterizing Wiesenthal as a rank opportunist, Harel summed up: "All the information supplied by Wiesenthal before and in anticipation of the [Eichmann] operation was utterly worthless, and sometimes even misleading and of negative value." 
Reckless Charges in Walus Case
One of Wiesenthal's most spectacular cases involved a Polish-born Chicago man named Frank Walus. In a letter dated December 10, 1974, he charged that Walus "delivered Jews to the Gestapo" in Czestochowa and Kielce in Poland during the war. This letter prompted a US government investigation and legal action.  The Washington Post dealt with the case in a 1981 article entitled "The Nazi Who Never Was: How a witch hunt by judge, press and investigators branded an innocent man a war criminal." The lengthy piece, which was copyrighted by the American Bar Association, reported: 
In January 1977, the United States government accused a Chicagoan named Frank Walus of having committed atrocities in Poland during World War II.
In the following years, this retired factory worker went into debt in order to raise more than $60,000 to defend himself. He sat in a courtroom while eleven Jewish survivors of the Nazi occupation of Poland testified that they saw him murder children, an old woman, a young woman, a hunchback and others ...
Overwhelming evidence shows that Walus was not a Nazi War criminal, that he was not even in Poland during World War II.
... In an atmosphere of hatred and loathing verging on hysteria, the government persecuted an innocent man. In 1974, Simon Wiesenthal, the famous "Nazi hunter" of Vienna, denounced Walus as "a Pole in Chicago who performed duties with the Gestapo in the ghettos of Czestochowa and Kielce and handed over a number of Jews to the Gestapo."
The Chicago weekly newspaper Reader also reported on the case in a detailed 1981 article headlined: "The Persecution of Frank Walus: To Catch a Nazi: The U.S. government wanted a war criminal. So, with the help of Simon Wiesenthal, the Israeli police, the local press and Judge Julius Hoffman, they invented one."  The article stated:
... It is logical to assume that the "reports received by Wiesenthal [against Walus] actually were rumors... In other words, Simon Wiesenthal had no evidence against Walus. He denounced him anyway.
While [Judge] Hoffman had the Walus case under advisement, Holocaust aired on television. During the same period, in April 1978, Simon Wiesenthal came to Chicago, where he gave interviews taking credit for the Walus case. "How Nazi-Hunter Helped Find Walus," was the Sun-Times headline on a story by Bob Olmstead. Wiesenthal told Sun-Times Abe Peck that he "has never had a case of mistaken identity." "I know there are thousands of people who wait for my mistake," he said.
It was only after an exhausting legal battle that the man who was vilified and physically attacked as "the butcher of Kielce" was finally able to prove that he had spent the war years as a peaceful farm laborer in Germany. Frank Walus died in August 1994, a broken and bitterly disappointed man.
Wiesenthal's recklessness in the Walus case should have been enough to permanently discredit him as a reliable investigator. But his Teflon reputation survived even this.
Wrong about Mengele
Much of the Wiesenthal myth is based on his hunt for Joseph Mengele, the wartime physician at Auschwitz known as the "Angel of Death." Time and time again, Wiesenthal claimed to be close on Mengele's heels. Wiesenthal reported that his informants had "seen" or "just missed" the elusive physician in Peru, Chile, Brazil, Spain, Greece, and half a dozen locations in Paraguay. 
One of the closest shaves came in the summer of 1960. Wiesenthal reported that Mengele had been hiding out on a small Greek island, from where he escaped by just a few hours. Wiesenthal continued to peddle this story, complete with precise details, even after a reporter whom he had hired to check it out informed him that the tale was false from beginning to end. 
According to another Wiesenthal report, Mengele arranged for the murder in 1960 of one of his former victims, a woman he had supposedly sterilized in Auschwitz. After spotting her, and her distinctive camp tattoo, at a hotel in Argentina where he was staying, Mengele allegedly arranged to have her killed because he feared that she would expose him. It turned out that the woman was never in a concentration camp, had no tattoo, had never met Mengele, and her death was a simple mountaineering accident. 
Mengele regularly dined at the finest restaurants in Asuncion, the Paraguayan capital, Wiesenthal said in 1977, and supposedly drove around the city with a bevy of armed guards in his black Mercedes Benz. 
Wiesenthal announced in 1985 that he was "100 percent sure" that Mengele had been hiding out in Paraguay until at least June 1984, and charged that the Mengele family in Germany knew exactly where. As it turned out, Wiesenthal was completely wrong. It was later definitively established that Mengele had died in 1979 in Brazil, where he had been living for years in anonymous poverty. 
Israel's ambassador to Paraguay from 1968 to 1972, Benjamin (Benno) Varon, remarked in 1983 on the Mengele campaign: "Wiesenthal makes periodic statements that he is about to catch him, perhaps since Wiesenthal must raise funds for his activities and the name Mengele is always good for a plug." Wiesenthal "failed miserably" in the Mengele case, the diplomat said on another occasion.  In the Mengele case, former Mossad chief Harel remarked, "Wiesenthal's folly borders on the criminal." 
In truth, the bulging Mengele file in Wiesenthal's Vienna "Documentation Center" was such a jumble of useless information that, in the words of the London Times, it "only sustained his self-confirmatory myths and gave scant satisfaction to those who apparently needed a definitive answer to Mengele's fate." 
In the considered view of Gerald Posner and John Ware, coauthors of Mengele: The Complete Story, Wiesenthal spent years assiduously cultivating a mythical "self-image of a tireless, dogged sleuth, pitted against the omnipotent and sinister might of Mengele and a vast Nazi network." Because of his "knack of playing to the gallery," Posner and Ware concluded, Wiesenthal "ultimately compromised his credibility." 
'Incompetence and Arrogance'
Eli Rosenbaum, an official with the US government's "Nazi hunting" Office of Special Investigations and an investigator for the World Jewish Congress, took aim at Wiesenthal's carefully cultivated "Nazi hunter" reputation in a detailed 1993 book, Betrayal.  For example, Rosenbaum mentioned, Wiesenthal "had all these reports placing Mengele in almost every country in Latin America except the one he was in -- namely, Brazil." 
Wiesenthal, wrote Rosenbaum, has been a "pathetically ineffective" investigator who had "gone far beyond the buffoonery and false boasts in prior years." Much of his illustrious career, Rosenbaum said, has been characterized by "incompetence and arrogance." 
Bruno Kreisky once summed up his attitude towards the "Nazi hunter" in these words: 
The engineer Wiesenthal, or whatever else his title is, hates me because he knows that I despise his activity. The Wiesenthal group is a quasi-political Mafia that works against Austria with disgraceful methods. Wiesenthal is known as someone who isn't very careful about the truth, who is not very selective about his methods and who uses tricks. He pretends to be the "Eichmann hunter," even though everyone knows that this was the work of a secret service, and that Wiesenthal only takes credit for that.
'Commercializing' the Holocaust
The Los Angeles Wiesenthal Center pays the Vienna "Nazi Hunter" $75,000 a year for the use of his name, the director of Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust center said in 1988.
Both the Center and Wiesenthal "commercialize" and "trivialize" the Holocaust, the director added.
Wiesenthal "threw out" the figure of "11 million who were murdered in the Holocaust -- six million Jews and five million non-Jews," said the Yad Vashem official. When asked why he gave these figures, Wiesenthal replied: "The gentiles will not pay attention if we do not mention their victims, too." Wiesenthal "chose 'five million (gentiles)' because he wanted a 'diplomatic' number, one that told of a large number of gentile victims but in no way was larger than that of Jews ..." 
"What Wiesenthal and the Los Angeles Center that bears his name do is to trivialize the Holocaust," commented The Jewish Press, a weekly that claims to be the largest-circulation English-language Jewish community paper in America.
In recent years Wiesenthal has been concerned about the growing impact of Holocaust revisionism. In "A Message from Simon Wiesenthal" published by the Center that bears his name, he said: "Today, when I see the rise of antisemitism here in Europe ... the popularity of Le Pen, of David Duke, of the Holocaust revisionists, then I am convinced more than ever about the need for our new [Wiesenthal Center] Beit Hashoah-Museum of Tolerance" in Los Angeles. 
Wiesenthal is often asked why he does not forgive those who persecuted Jews half a century ago. His stock answer is that although he has the right to forgive for himself, he does not have the right to forgive on behalf of others.  On the basis of this sophistical logic, though, neither does he have the right to accuse and track down anyone in the name of others. Wiesenthal has never confined his "hunt" to those who victimized him personally.
'Driven by Hatred'
It is difficult to say just what drives this remarkable man. Is it a craving for fame and praise? Or is he trying to live down a shameful episode from his past?
Wiesenthal clearly enjoys the praise he receives. "He is a man of considerable ego, proud of testimonials and honorary degrees," the Los Angeles Times has reported.  Bruno Kreisky has given a simpler explanation. He said that Wiesenthal is "driven by hatred." 
In light of his well-documented record of deceit, lies and incompetence, the extravagant praise heaped upon this contemptible man is a sorry reflection of the venal corruptibility and unprincipled self-deception of our age.
Quoted in: M. Weber, "'Nazi Hunter' Caught Lying," The Spotlight (Washington, DC), Oct. 26, 1981, p. 9.
Interrogation of S. Wiesenthal on May 27 and 28, 1948, conducted by Curt Ponger of the Interrogation Branch of the Evidence Division of the Office (U.S.) Chief of Counsel for War Crimes. Interrogation No. 2820. On file at the National Archives (Washington, DC), "Records of the U.S. Nürnberg War Crimes Trials Interrogations, 1946-49," Record Group 238, microfilm M-1019, roll 79, frames 460-469 and 470-476. Also cited in: "New Documents Raise New Doubts About Simon Wiesenthal's War Years," The Journal of Historical Review, Winter 1988-89 (Vol. 8, No. 4), pp. 489-503.
PCIRO (International Refugee Organization, Austria) "Application for Assistance" filled out and signed by Wiesenthal. Dated Jan. 16,1949. (This was a trial exhibit in the Walus court case. Photocopy in author's possession.)
Simon Wiesenthal, The Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Memoirs. Edited by Joseph Wechsberg. (New York: McGraw Hill, 1967)
Interrogation of S. Wiesenthal, May 27, 1948, pp. 1-2.
The Murderers Among Us, p. 27.
The Murderers Among Us, pp. 29-35. This account is not inconsistent with his 1948 and 1949 statements; See also: Simon Wiesenthal, Justice Not Vengeance (New York: Grove Weidenfeld: 1989), pp. 7-9.
Interrogation of May 27, 1948, p. 2. In a signed 1945 statement, Wiesenthal wrote:
"... I escaped on October 18, 1943, from the Lemberg [Lvov] hard labor camp where I was kept as a prisoner during my two years of labor at the railroad works... and went into hiding until joining Jewish partisans on November 21, 1943, who operated there. It was while fighting in the partisan ranks against the Nazis that we managed to collect and bury for safekeeping considerable amount of evidence... When the partisans were dispersed by the Germans I fled to Lemberg on February 10, 1944, and again went into hiding. On June 13, 1944, I was found during a house to house search and was immediately sent to the famous Lacki camp, near that city ..." Source: "Curriculum Vitae of Ing. Wiesenthal, Szymon." SHAEF, Subject: War Crimes, July 6, 1945. Records of USAEUR, War Crimes Branch, National Archives (Suitland, Maryland), Records Group 338, Box 534, Folder 000-50-59. Wiesenthal's alleged partisans activities are also recounted in Alan Levy, The Wiesenthal File (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1994), pp. 50-53.
Interrogation of May 28, 1948, pp. 1-2.
Interrogation of May 28, 1948, p. 5.
The Murderers Among Us, pp. 35-37.
The Murderers Among Us, pp. 37-38; Interrogation, May 27, 1948, p. 2, and May 28, 1948, p. 5; A. Levy, The Wiesenthal File (1994), p. 54.
The Murderers Among Us, pp. 39-44; Interrogation, May 27, 1948, pp. 2-3.
Interview with foreign journalists in Vienna, Nov. 10, 1975. Text published in: "War Wiesenthal ein Gestapo-Kollaborateur?," Profil (Vienna), No. 47, Nov. 18, 1975, pp. 16, 22-23; Reprinted in: Robert H. Drechsler, Simon Wiesenthal: Dokumentation (Vienna: 1982), pp. 215-218, 222-223; Quoted in part in A. Levy, The Wiesenthal File (1994), p. 349, and in, S. Wiesenthal, Justice Not Vengeance (New York: 1989), pp. 7, 299. Kreisky was not alone in charging that Wiesenthal had collaborated with the German Gestapo. Wim Van Leer, columnist for the English-language daily Jerusalem Post, stated in May 1986 that a high-level police official in Vienna, citing confidential police records, had told him during the early 1960s that these and other charges against Wiesenthal were true. Source: J. Bushinsky, "Nazi hunter sues over charges of links to Gestapo," Chicago Sun-Times, Jan. 31, 1987.
Simon Wiesenthal, KZ Mauthausen (Linz and Vienna: Ibis-Verlag, 1946). Facsimile reprint in: Robert H. Drechsler, Simon Wiesenthal: Dokumentation (Vienna: 1982), p. 64.
"Firing Squad," Life magazine, US edition, June 11, 1945, p. 50.
M. Weber and K. Stimely, "The Sleight-of-Hand of Simon Wiesenthal," The Journal of Historical Review, Spring 1984 (Vol. 5, No. 1), pp. 120-122; D. National-Zeitung (Munich), May 21, 1993, p. 3.
S. Wiesenthal, KZ Mauthausen (1946). See also facsimile reprint in: Robert H. Drechsler, Simon Wiesenthal: Dokumentation (Vienna: 1982), pp. 42, 46. This "confession" is a somewhat altered version of Nuremberg document NO-1973; A new edition of Wiesenthal's 1946 book has been published under the title Denn sie Wussten, was sie tun: Zeichnungen und Aufzeichnungen aus dem KZ Mauthausen (Vienna: F. Deuticke, 1995). I am grateful to Robert Faurisson for bringing this to my attention. He points out in a July 1995 essay that Wiesenthal has deleted from this new edition both the "death bed confession" of Ziereis as well as his drawing of the three Mauthausen inmates.
According to the Encyclopaedia Judaica ("Mauthausen,", Vol. 11, p. 1138), a grand total of 206,000 persons were inmates of Mauthausen and its satellite camps (including Hartheim) at one time or another.
S. Wiesenthal, KZ Mauthausen (1946). Facsimile reprint in: R. Drechsler, Simon Wiesenthal: Dokumentation, p. 47.
R. Faurisson, "The Gas Chambers: Truth or Lie?," The Journal of Historical Review, Winter 1981, pp. 330, 361. See also: Hans Fritzsche, The Sword in the Scales (London: 1953), p. 185; Gerald Reitlinger, The Final Solution (London: Sphere, pb., 1971), p. 515; M. Weber, "The Nuremberg Trials and the Holocaust," The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1992 (Vol. 12, No. 2), p. 182.
USA Today, April 21, 1983, p. 9A.
The Murderers Among Us, p. 44.
Evelyn Le Chene, Mauthausen: The History of a Death Camp (London: 1971), pp. 166-168 and 190-191.
"Mauthausen", Encyclopaedia Judaica (New York and Jerusalem: 1971), vol. 11, p. 1138.
C. Moritz, ed., Current Biography 1975 (New York: H.W. Wilson, 1975), p. 442; Wiesenthal interrogation of May 27, 1948, p. 3.
Mark Weber, "Jewish Soap," The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1991 (Vol. 11, No. 2), pp. 217-227; See also: Robert Faurisson, "La savon juif," Annales d'Histoire Revisionniste (Paris), No. 1, Printemps 1987, pp. 153-159.
Der Neue Weg (Vienna), No. 17/18, 1946, pp. 4-5. Article entitled "RIF" by "Ing. Wiesenth." (Simon Wiesenthal).
Der Neue Weg (Vienna), Nr. 19/20, 1946, pp. 14-15. Article entitled "Seifenfabrik Belsetz" ("Belzec Soap Factory"), by "Ing. S.Wiesenth."
S. Wiesenthal, Sails of Hope (Macmillan, 1973).
Letters by Wiesenthal in Books and Bookmen (London), April 1975, p. 5, and in Stars and Stripes (European edition), Jan. 24, 1993, p. 14. Facsimile of Stars and Stripes letter in The Journal of Historical Review, May-June 1993, p. 10; In 1986 Wiesenthal lied about his 1975 statement. In a letter dated May 12, 1986, to Prof. John George of Central State University in Edmond, Oklahoma (copy in author's possession), Wiesenthal wrote: "I have never stated that 'there were no extermination camps on German soil.' This quote is false, I could never have said such a thing."
For example, in a letter (dated Sept. 13, 1993), published in The New York Times, Sept. 29, 1993, Wiesenthal boasted: "I succeeded in putting a number of Nazis on trial who had perpetrated horrendous crimes in the Nazi era, including Adolf Eichmann, Franz Stangl, Gustav Wagner,..."
S. Birnbaum, "Wiesenthal's Claim on Eichmann Disputed by Former Mossad Head," Jewish Telegraphic Agency Daily News Bulletin (New York), April 4, 1989. (Dispatch dated April 3).
J. Schachter, "Wiesenthal had no role in Eichmann capture," The Jerusalem Post, May 18, 1991. Facsimile reprint in Christian News, May 27, 1991, p. 19. See also: Ruth Sinai, "Wiesenthal's role in Eichmann's capture disputed," Associated Press, The Orange County Register, Feb. 25, 1990, p. A 26; L. Lagnado, "How Simon Wiesenthal Helped a Secret Nazi," Forward (New York), Sept. 24, 1993, pp. 1, 3.
J. Schachter, The Jerusalem Post, May 18, 1991 (cited above). Facsimile in Christian News, May 27, 1991, p. 19.
Arnold Forster, Square One (New York: 1988), pp. 187-189. (Forster was general counsel of the Anti-Defamation League, a major Zionist organization.)
J. Goldberg, "Top Spy Says Wiesenthal Lied About His Exploits," Forward (New York), Nov. 12, 1993, pp. 1, 4; R. Sinai, "Wiesenthal's role...," The Orange County Register, Feb. 25, 1990 (cited above).
Michael Arndt, "The Wrong Man," The Chicago Tribune Magazine, Dec. 2, 1984, pp. 15-35, esp. p. 23; Charles Ashman and Robert J. Wagman, The Nazi Hunters (New York: Pharos Books, 1988), pp. 193-195.
"The Nazi Who Never Was," The Washington Post, May 10, 1981, pp. B5, B8.
"The Persecution of Frank Walus," Reader (Chicago), Jan. 23, 1981, pp. 19, 30. After Wiesenthal was ultimately proven wrong in a similar case in Canada, the Toronto Sun newspaper commented in an editorial: "It seems that material provided by professional Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal is wrong, but repeated anyway [in the media]." (Quoted by M. Weber in The Journal of Historical Review, Spring 1984, pp. 120-122.)
Gerald L. Posner and John Ware, Mengele: The Complete Story (New York: Dell, 1987), pp. 220-221; Gerald Astor, The 'Last' Nazi: The Life and Times of Dr. Joseph Mengele (Toronto: Paperjacks, 1986), p. 202.
G. Posner and J. Ware, Mengele: The Complete Story (cited above), p. 220.
G. Posner and J. Ware, Mengele (cited above), pp. 179-180; G. Astor, The 'Last' Nazi (cited above), pp. 178-180.
Time magazine, Sept. 26, 1977, pp. 36-38. Cited in: G. Posner and J. Ware, Mengele (cited above), p. 219.
"Hunting the 'Angel of Death'," Newsweek, May 20, 1985, pp. 36-38. See also: M. Weber, "Lessons of the Mengele Affair," Journal of Historical Review, Fall 1985 (Vol. 6, No. 3), p. 382. On Wiesenthal's distortion of truth in the Mermelstein-IHR case, see: M. Weber, "Declaration," Journal of Historical Review, Spring 1982 (Vol. 3, No. 1), pp. 42-43; M. Weber, "Albert Speer and the 'Holocaust,"' Journal of Historical Review, Winter 1984 (Vol. 5, Nos. 2-4), p. 439.
Midstream, Dec. 1983, p. 24. Quoted in: G. Posner and J. Ware, Mengele (cited above), p. 219; Los Angeles Times, Nov. 15, 1985, p. 2.
J. Schachter, "Wiesenthal had no role in Eichmann capture," The Jerusalem Post, May 18, 1991. Facsimile reprint in Christian News, May 27, 1991, p. 19.
Tom Bower in The Times (London), June 14, 1985, p. 14. Quoted in: G. Posner and J. Ware, Mengele (cited above), pp. 222-223.
G. Posner and J. Ware, Mengele (cited above), pp. 222-223.
Betrayal, by Eli M. Rosenbaum, with William Hoffer. Published in 1993 by St. Martin's Press (New York). Reviewed by Jacob Heilbrunn in The New York Times Book Review, Oct. 10, 1993, p. 9.
Quoted in L. Lagnado, "How Simon Wiesenthal...," Forward (New York), Sept. 24, 1993, p. 3.
The New York Times Book Review, Oct. 10, 1993, p. 9; Forward (New York), Sept. 24, 1993, p. 3.
"Was hat Wiesenthal zu verbergen?," D. National-Zeitung (Munich), Nov. 11, 1988, p. 4.
David Sinai, "News We Doubt You've Seen," The Jewish Press (Brooklyn, NY), Dec. 23, 1988. Based on report in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, Dec. 16, 1988.
"A Message from Simon Wiesenthal," Response: The Wiesenthal Center World Report, Winter 1992, p. 11.
Charles Ashman and Robert J. Wagman, The Nazi Hunters (New York: Pharos Books, 1988), p. 286; A. Popkin, "Nazi-Hunter Simon Wiesenthal: 'Information is Our Best Defense'," Washington Jewish Week, Oct. 29, 1987, p. 2.
Quoted in: M. Weber, The Spotlight, Oct. 26, 1981, p. 9.
Quoted in D. National-Zeitung (Munich), July 8, 1988, p. 7, and in, R. Drechsler, Simon Wiesenthal: Dokumentation (Vienna: 1982), p. 199.
From The Journal of Historical Review, July-August 1995 (Vol. 15, No. 4), pages 8-16. This is a revised and updated version of an article that first appeared in the Winter 1989-90 issue of The Journal of Historical Review.
About the author
Mark Weber is director of the Institute for Historical Review. He studied history at the University of Illinois (Chicago), the University of Munich, Portland State University and Indiana University (M.A., 1977). For nine years he served as editor of the IHR's Journal of Historical Review.