The Simon Wiesenthal Centre (SWC) is an international Jewish human rights organization with a membership of 400,000 that fights for human rights. Established in 1977, headquartered in Los Angeles, it draws the lessons of the Holocaust to the analysis of contemporary issues of intolerance. The Centre holds NGO status at the UN, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the Organization of American States.
The European office of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, headquartered in Paris, actively promotes and supports the Centre’s mission in Europe by combating antisemitism, Holocaust denial, extremism and neo-Nazi activities. The European office raises these issues with government officials, media and communities across Europe.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre - Europe (SWC Europe):
- Controls and combats the rise of neo-Nazi activities in Europe by alerting government officials, the media and local authorities to these incidents. Its actions have led, among other things, to the banning of neo-Nazi rallies in Spain, the cancellation of Holocaust denial conferences in France, the closure of the bank accounts of a Swedish neo-Nazi group, as well as distributors in Spain, and the denunciation of neo-Nazi paramilitary training camps and arms supplies in Portugal.
- Plays an active role in researching and denouncing boycotts of Israel, and premeditated omissions of the State of Israel in publications, guides, catalogues and maps. L’Oréal, KPMG Comptabilité, the Michelin Guide, a shipping company in France, and a chemical laboratory in Great Britain were thus denounced.
- Organizes and participates in conferences across Europe on topics such as xenophobia and antisemitism in Russia, fascism, Holocaust denial, Jewish-Muslim relations, the search for Nazi gold and looted works of art. Co-sponsors of these conferences include UNESCO, the German government, Oxford University and the Carnegie Foundation.
- Maintains surveillance of Europe’s concentration camps to ensure the memory of the Holocaust and the protection of the sanctity of these places. In recent years, this has involved protesting to the Polish government against the establishment of a nightclub in Auschwitz, the obligation to remove panels from an exhibition entitled “Israel Nazism” at the Theresienstadt Memorial Museum, the installation of a commemorative plaque to the works of Natzweiler-Struthof mentioning that Jewish victims perished there, and the exerting of pressure on the Phillip Morris firm to cancel its plans to set up a cigarette factory in Auschwitz.
Observed and attended various trials of Nazi war criminals in Europe, including those of Paul Touvier in France and Erich Priebke in Italy.
- Disseminates educational material in schools and universities on the occasion of conferences, and was the recipient of the European Parliament Medal for the organization of the competition between the European Union and Unesco: “50 years after the Holocaust, lessons for Europe.”
- Controls antisemitism and Holocaust denial in books, newspapers and other publications. Following protests by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Japanese antisemitic books were removed from the sale of a shop in Paris; interviews were held with the Red Cross to condemn revisionist articles of the Palestinian Red Crescent; the President of the German Red Cross Blood Transfusion Centre resigned after the publication of a Holocaust denial newsletter, and the Bulgarian authorities removed the antisemitic text: “Freemasons, Jews and Revolutions; how do Satan’s forces prepare for the end of mankind?”
- Regularly addresses various organizations on issues that the Wiesenthal Centre deals with, such as “Antisemitism in the Arab Media” at the Amman Institute of Diplomacy, “Online Hate” in the Knesset, and “Religious Intolerance in Europe Today” at the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
- Sponsors “SOS-Vérité et Sécurité,” the National Bureau of Vigilance against Antisemitism (BNVCA), which helps victims of antisemitism in France through a toll-free number: (+33) 1 45 08 88 55.
- Accompanies the applicants before the Commission for the Compensation of Victims of Spoliation, the CIVS (known as the Drai Commission), during the process of their claims against French banks for the return of accounts looted during the Vichy regime. The Centre’s researchers work within the CIVS according to an agreement signed with the Office of the French Prime Minister, following the Franco-American agreement of Washington, D.C., of 18 January 2001.