On 18 December, I had the privilege to interview Racheli Kreisberg, the granddaughter of Simon Wiesenthal.
Anyone who has an interest in history, specifically Holocaust history, will know who Simon Wiesenthal is, but in case there are a few people who don’t know.
Simon Wiesenthal was born on the 31st of December 1908, in Buczacz (nowadays in Ukraine). He graduated from the gymnasium in 1928 and completed his architecture studies at the Czech Technical University in Prague in 1932.
He survived the Janowska concentration camp, the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp, the Gross-Rosen concentration camp, a death march to Chemnitz, Buchenwald, and the Mauthausen concentration camp.
In May 1945, Wiesenthal, just barely having survived the hardships, was liberated by a US Army unit. Severely malnourished, he weighed less than 45kg by this time. He recovered and was reunited with his wife Cyla by the end of 1945. 89 members of both their extended families were murdered during the Holocaust.
Immediately after the liberation, Simon Wiesenthal started to assist the War Crimes Section of the US Army and later worked for the Army’s Office of Strategic Services and Counter-Intelligence Corps. He headed the Jewish Central Committee of the US Zone of Austria and was also involved with the Bricha, the clandestine immigration of Holocaust survivors from Europe to Mandate Palestine.
Simon Wiesenthal dedicated his life to tracking down former Nazis and their collaborators. He established the Jewish Documentation Center in Linz (1947–1954), with the purpose to assemble evidence of Nazi war crimes.
Simon Wiesenthal started searching for Adolf Eichmann shortly after the war when it had become clear that he was the architect of the final solution, i.e. to annihilate the Jewish People. Simon Wiesenthal was several times very close to catching Adolf Eichmann; however, the latter managed to escape or avoid attending events at which he was expected. In the mid-1950s, Simon Wiesenthal donated his entire archive to Yad Vashem, except for the Eichmann file. He was instrumental in providing the Israeli Mossad with an early picture of Adolf Eichmann. In addition, Simon Wiesenthal provided evidence that Adolf Eichmann lived in Buenos Aires under the name of Ricardo Clement. Eichmann was captured by Mossad on the 11th of May 1960. He was sentenced to death and hung on the night of the 1st of June 1962; his body was incinerated and his ashes were scattered outside Israel’s territorial seawater.
In the interview with Racheli, we briefly discussed her grandfather but focused more on her work for The Simon Wiesenthal Genealogy Geolocation Initiative (SWIGGI). It links genealogy and geolocation data in a novel way. They currently have the country of the Netherlands, the cities Lodz and Vienna and the Shtetls Skala Podolska, Nadworna and Solotwina. SWIGGI shows all the residents of a given house and links residents to their family trees. Simon Wiesenthal’s Holocaust Memorial pages are developed for Holocaust victims.
There are links below, and I urge you to look at them. If possible, please consider givIng a donation to this very noble and well-worthy cause.