Paris, 5 April 2022
As part of the conference on “Nazis and Nazi Sympathizers in South America after 1945,” the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute sponsored a public event on “Legacies of Simon Wiesenthal: Wiesenthal Center and Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies - Looking Back, Moving Forward,” which featured Dr Efraim Zuroff, SWC’s chief Nazi-hunter and Director of its Israel Office and Eastern European Affairs, and Dr Shimon Samuels, Director of its Paris Office and International Relations.
Left to right: Shimon Samuels (SWC), Brigitte Bailer (DOW), Alexia Weiss (WINA), Efraim Zuroff (SWC).
Samuels, as the first to enter the Nazi archives of Argentina in February 1992, spoke of the missing documents on Eichmann and other war criminals. He also recounted the capture and extradition from Bariloche, Argentina – and the trial in Rome – of Erich Priebke. As an SS officer, Priebke was responsible for the arrest and execution of 335 innocent civilians – including 75 Jews – at the Ardeatine Caves, outside Rome. This retaliation massacre for the killing of 33 Nazi troops by the Italian Resistance was ordered directly by Hitler – 10 Italians were to be murdered for each Nazi killed. Priebke had selected the victims and admitted to personally shooting two of them. He served a prison sentence that ended in his lawyer’s apartment, dying at the age of 100.
Zuroff presented a survey of the activities of his office, especially focusing on its assistance in providing survivors to testify in the ongoing belated trials in Germany, as well as the efforts being invested in combatting Holocaust distortion in post-Communist Eastern Europe. He also shared memories of his cooperation with Simon Wiesenthal, and he emphasized the Nazi-hunter’s parallel role as an educator devoted to perpetuating the memory of the Holocaust, and his concern in that regard for future generations.