Holocaust Survivors' Network
Nazi-hunter Wiesenthal laid to rest in Israel
No members of the Israeli Cabinet attended the funeral
-- a situation that did not go unnoticed...
"There's a lot of people who should have been here,"
said Shevach Weiss, a Holocaust survivor who heads the board of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem
By Steven Gutkin,
September 24, 2005
HERZLIYA, Israel -- Simon Wiesenthal, who spent half a century tirelessly tracking down Nazis hiding throughout the world, was laid to rest yesterday in Israel, the nation that sprang from the ashes of the Holocaust.
Several hundred dignitaries, Holocaust survivors, and admirers gathered at the funeral for the man one diplomat praised as ''the conscience of the Western world."
''Every [Holocaust] survivor in the world walked a little taller and felt a little more secure because Simon Wiesenthal was out there defending their honor and the honor of their loved ones who perished," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.
Wiesenthal, who died Tuesday in his sleep at his Vienna home at the age of 96, lost 89 family members in the Holocaust, survived a dozen Nazi camps, and weighed less than 100 pounds when he was liberated in 1945.
Speaker after speaker at the funeral saluted the man who, by his own count, helped bring more than 1,000 Nazi war criminals to justice, giving voice to the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust. ''For decades," said Gene Cretz, deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, ''Simon Wiesenthal served as the conscience of the Western world."
Hier described how Wiesenthal ran after the cattle car that took his mother to her death.
''She never heard his desperate cries, the cries of a loving son," Hier said, adding that at their last meeting he told the Nazi hunter, ''Because of your life's work, the whole world has heard you."
Rabbi Michael Melchior, Israel's deputy minister for education, said Wiesenthal ''taught an entire generation that you learn from the past and use your knowledge to build the past, so that there will be hope in the future, hope for the Jewish nation and for all humanity."
No members of the Israeli Cabinet attended the funeral, with Melchior the highest-ranking official there -- a situation that did not go unnoticed. ''There's a lot of people who should have been here," said Shevach Weiss, a Holocaust survivor who heads the board of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.
© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company