Simon Wiesenthal’s 100th Birthday Commemorated with Ceremonial Act

Austrian Press Agency (APA) (01/23/2009)

Muzicant against a one-sided perception of Wiesenthal as ‘Nazi hunter’ – coins and stamps are in the planning

Vienna – The 100th birthday of the late Simon Wiesenthal was honored with a ceremonial act in Vienna. Ariel Muzicant, President of the Israelite Community of Vienna (IKG), expressed his wishes against a one-sided reception of the anniversary: “I have always fought against his being characterized as ‘Nazi hunter.’ In commemoration of his birthday on December 31, plans are being made for a limited edition of a coin and stamp.

“At the beginning I had a rather complex relationship to Simon Wiesenthal,” recalled Muzicant during his welcoming speech at the Vienna Palace of Lower Austria. Very quickly, however one discovered that we were pursuing common goals.

One common goal and special wish, among other things, was to establish a Simon Wiesenthal Institute which was finalized last year with the designation of an appropriate location along with necessary funding, ‘”creating great joy,” said Muzicant.

Israeli journalist Tom Segev, whose biography of Wiesenthal will appear this year in print, gave testimony to Wiesenthal in a lecture entitled, “The Lonely Humanist.” He admitted that for him, Wiesenthal was “a refugee who lost everything in his life except his accent.” The question which was often asked was why Wiesenthal lived, of all things, in Vienna, and the author answered simply: “Because he felt at home here.” What characterized Wiesenthal as humanist was that he never believed in collective guilt but in a “liberal system of law and justice.” He believed, however, also in remorse,” said Segev.