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Simon Wiesenthal: The Life and Legendsby Tom Segev
Synopses & Reviews
This first fully documented biography of Simon Wiesenthal, the legendary Nazi hunter, is also a brilliant character study of a man whose life was part invention but wholly dedicated to ensuring both that the Nazis be held responsible for their crimes and that the destruction of European Jewry never be forgotten.
Like most Jews in Eastern Europe on the eve of Hitler’s invasion of Poland, twenty-four-year-old Simon Wiesenthal did not grasp the nature of the Nazi threat. But six years later, when a skeletal Wiesenthal was liberated from the concentration camp at Mauthausen, he fully fathomed the crimes of the Nazis. Within days he had assembled a list of nearly 150 Nazi war criminals, the first of dozens of such lists he would make over a lifetime as a Nazi hunter. A hero in the eyes of many, Wiesenthal was also attacked for his unrelenting pursuit of the past, when others preferred to forget.
For this new biography, rich in newsworthy revelations, historian and journalist Tom Segev has obtained access to Wiesenthal’s private papers and to sixteen archives, including records of the U.S., Israeli, Polish, and East German secret services. Segev is able to reveal the intriguing secrets of Wiesenthal’s life, including his stunning role in the capture of Adolf Eichmann, his relationship with Israel’s Mossad, his controversial investigative techniques, his unlikely friendships with Kurt Waldheim and Albert Speer, and the nature of his rivalry with Elie Wiesel.
Segev’s challenge in writing this biography was Wiesenthal’s own complicated relationship to truth. Wiesenthal told many versions of his life, his suffering in the camps, and his involvement with the arrest of individual Nazis. Segev shows that in order to gain the information he sought and twist the arms of reluctant government figures, Wiesenthal needed to seem more influential than he really was.
For two generations of Americans, Simon Wiesenthal was a Jewish superhero—depicted on film by Ben Kingsley and Laurence Olivier—and the muse for a Frederick Forsyth thriller. Now Segev demonstrates that the truth of Wiesenthal’s existence is as compelling as the fiction. Simon Wiesenthal is an unforgettable life of one of the great men of the twentieth century.
From the Hardcover edition.
With 16 pages of black-and-white illustrations
Now in paperback, the first fully documented biography of the legendary Polish-born Nazi hunter—a revelatory account of a man whose life, though part invention, was wholly dedicated to ensuring both that the Nazis be held responsible for their crimes and that their destruction of European Jewry never be forgotten.
Within days of being liberated from the Mauthausen concentration camp, Simon Wiesenthal had assembled a list of nearly 150 Nazi war criminals, the first of dozens of such lists he would compile over a lifetime as a Nazi hunter. A hero in the eyes of many, Wiesenthal was also attacked for his unrelenting pursuit of justice for crimes committed in a past that many preferred to forget. With access to Wiesenthal’s private papers and to American, East German, and Israeli government archives, Tom Segev sheds new light on Wiesenthal’s most closely guarded secrets: his true role in the capture of Adolf Eichmann, his connection to Isreal’s Mossad, his controversial investigative techniques, his unlikely friendships with Kurt Waldheim and Albert Speer, his rivalry with Elie Wiesel—making clear that the truth of Wiesenthal’s existence was far more complex and compelling than the legends (often of his own making) that surrounded him.
About the Author
TOM SEGEV, who writes a weekly column for Haaretz, Israel's leading daily newspaper, is the author of six previous books, including The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust and One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate (named one of the ten best books of 2000 by The New York Times Book Review).
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Glass Box
1. “Eichmann Is My Passion”
2. “During That Period, We Never Took Hitler Seriously”
3. “See You on the Soap Shelf”
4. “Who Knows Her? Who Has Seen Her?”
5. “The Duty of an Austrian Patriot”
6. “That’s How I Became a Stamp Collector”
7. “I Hope You’re Not Coming to See Me”
8. “I Always Said He’s in Buenos Aires”
9. “Sleuth with 6 Million Clients”
10. “You May Have Thought He Was Happy, But He Also Cried Sometimes”
11. “A Huge Mass of Rotten Flesh”
12. “Auschwitz Lines”
13. “What Would You Have Done?”
14. “Kreisky Is Going Mad”
15. “Better Than Any Monster”
16. “Mr. Wiesenthal, I Claim, Had Different Relations with the Gestapo from Mine”
17. “It’s Not Easy to Be My Wife”
18. “The Children . . . Were Actually the Same Children”
19. “Only So That Mengele’s Name Would Not Be Forgotten”
20. “As If I Were Already Dead”
22. “We All Made Mistakes in Our Youth”
What Our Readers Are Saying
Biography » Historical