Simon Wiesenthal, Who Helped Hunt Nazis After War, Dies at 96

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Simon Wiesenthal, the death camp survivor who dedicated the rest of his life to tracking down fugitive Nazi war criminals, died today at his home in Vienna. He was 96. His death was announced by Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.

After hairbreadth escapes from death, two suicide attempts and his liberation by American forces in Austria in 1945, Mr. Wiesenthal abandoned his profession as an architectural engineer and took on a new calling: memorializing the six million of his fellow Jews and perhaps five million other noncombatants who were systematically murdered by the Nazis, and bringing their killers to justice.

His results were checkered: claims that he flushed out nearly 1,100 war criminals were sometimes wrong or disputed. But his role as a stubborn sleuth on the trail of history's archfiends helped keep the spotlight on a hideous past that he said too much of the world was disposed to forget.

"To young people here, I am the last," he told an interviewer in Vienna in 1993. "I'm the one who can still speak. After me, it's history."

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