Journalist--author of WW II history books--accuses Simon Wiesenthal of fabricating 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. ...


comments powered by Disqus