Death of Wiesenthal: 'No sell-by date for justice'

The lesson to be learnt from the life of Holocaust survivor and indefatigable Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal is that “justice does not have a sell-by date”, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) said on Wednesday.

“It has to be striven for unceasingly, no matter how great the passage of time,” said Michael Bagraim, the national chairperson of the SAJBD.

Wiesenthal (96) died at his home in Vienna, Austria, on Tuesday after a long illness.

He was “the conscience of the Holocaust”, said Rabbi Marvin Hier, who founded the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre in 1977.

Bagraim said Wiesenthal did not emerge from the death camps broken and bitter.

“Rather, he had a burning motivation to work towards a world where such things would never be allowed to happen again.”

Bagraim said Wiesenthal was “an iconic figure in the fight against anti-Semitism for over half a century”.

“His life will be a lasting source of inspiration for all those committed to eradicating racial prejudice and injustice.”

The SAJBD deeply regrets his passing, he said.

Wiesenthal lost 89 members of his and his wife Cyla’s families in the Holocaust, which claimed the lives of six million Jews.

He lived by the maxim “there is no freedom without justice”, and tracked down more than 1 000 Nazi war criminals who were brought to justice.

Jewish officials in Vienna said a funeral ceremony would be held there on Wednesday, and then Wiesenthal’s remains would be flown to Israel, for burial the next day.—Sapa, Sapa-AFP

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