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Simon Wiesenthal

Simon Wiesenthal (born December 31, 1908 in Buczacz, Austria-Hungary, in an area which is now part of the Ukraine) is best known for gathering information on Nazi war criminals so that they can be brought to trial.

Wiesenthal himself is a survivor of the Holocaust: He was interned in several concentration camps, but was liberated by American forces in 1945. After the war, he established the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Holocaust memorial agency named after himself, as well as a documentation center dedicated to tracking down Nazi war criminals.

He and his Vienna-based Jewish Documentation Center were instrumental in the capture and conviction of the main engineer of the Endlösung, Adolf Eichmann. Wiesenthal also helped find the Gestapo officer responsible for the arrest of Anne Frank: his confession helped falsify revisionist claims that the Anne Frank diary was a forgery.

In the 1970s he got caught up in Austrian politics when he pointed out that several ministers in Bruno Kreisky's newly formed Socialist government had been Nazis while Austria was part of the Third Reich. Kreisky, himself Jewish, attacked Wiesenthal as a Nestbeschmutzer (someone who dirties their own nest).

In April 2003, Wiesenthal announced his retirement, saying that he had found the mass murderers he had been looking for: "I have survived them all. If there were any left, they'd be too old and weak to stand trial today. My work is done." According to Wiesenthal, the only Austrian war criminal still alive is Alois Brunner, Eichmann's right-hand man, who is said to be hiding in Syria.

The character of Yakov Liebermann in Ira Levin's novel The Boys from Brazil is modelled on Wiesenthal, and Wiesenthal makes an appearance as a minor character in Frederick Forsyth's The Odessa File, providing information to a German journalist attempting to track down a Nazi war criminal.

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