Simon Wiesenthal: 1908-2005
Simon Wiesenthal, a Holocaust survivor known for his work bringing Nazi war criminals to justice, passed away last week in Vienna at the age of 96. He is destined be remembered as one of the giant figures of the past century.
After surviving personally intense suffering through the period of Nazi persecution, Simon Wiesenthal spent much of the rest of his life fighting tirelessly, and often successfully, to bring many Nazi war criminals to justice. His relentlessly committed labors were of almost singular importance in creating an empathic world focus upon the atrocities committed by the Nazis, as he fought to recover or maintain our memories of the six million Jewish people and other minority persons who were murdered during the Holocaust.
Further, the Simon Wiesenthal (Memorial) Centers that he was intrumental in establishing throughout the world serve as powerfully evocative means for the narrative induction of subsequent generations into the master narrative of the plight of the violently destructive tragedy murderously inflicted upon the Jewish people by the Third Reich. Fearing that the memory of this European catastrophe of genocide might fade from collective memory and be repeated, Weisenthal continuously emphasized and turned our thoughts to the memorably striking phrase “Lest We Forget.” The master narrative of Shoah or the Holocaust necessary leads to feelings of melancholia, rather than to mourning and “working-through” in the collective memory of this murderous event. However, this is an especially unique sense of melancholia that provides an invaluable adaptive and soothing function as “restorative nostalgia,” which is of singular importance in enabling the recollection of the enriched experiences and times that existed for many Jewish people before the Nazi’s tragic mass infliction of genocidal disaster.
Simon Wiensenthal made sure that the world will never forget the Holocaust. We will never forget, and we will never forget Wiensenthal’s monumental service to humanity.