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I Have Never Forgotten You: The Life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A reviewer

    “I Have Never Forgotten You – The Life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal” skillfully combines archive footage with interviews in a moving tribute to the charismatic, controversial Simon Wiesenthal who sacrificed much during his life to bring some justice to the victims of the Holocaust. The documentary mainly sticks to a chronological approach to its subject who is often known under the simplistic name of “Nazi hunter.” The documentary contains some disturbing images that should not deter viewers to face the ugly side of human history. To some people, Wiesenthal was seen as too “obsessed” with bringing the worst criminals of the Holocaust to justice. To others, Wiesenthal was a man who made a promise to himself and the other victims of this ignominious genocide that they would not be forgotten. Wiesenthal described himself as a researcher, not a hero, who was interested in the truth, not revenge. Wiesenthal sticks to the facts while he and his team were painstakingly building a case against the worst Nazi criminals. To his credit, Wiesenthal also made clear that he and his helpers were not at war with the children of Nazis like Adolf Eichmann, no matter what their parents did to them. In addition, Wiesenthal did not make differences among the victims of the Holocaust, being Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, or other “undesirables” in the eyes of the Nazis and their collaborators. The documentary clearly shows that Wiesenthal and his few helpers were largely fighting a lonely battle against injustice until the successful prosecution and trial of Eichmann, the zealous executioner of the Endlösung or “Final Solution,” in Israel in 1961 C.E. After the trials of the remaining top henchman of Adolf Hitler in Nuremberg in 1945 – 46 C.E., high point of the post-war “Denazification” campaign, and the advent of the Cold War, the victorious allies quickly lost much interest in prosecuting the worst Nazis. The allies found jobs for “useful” Nazis in the name of Realpolitik. The documentary also highlights how former members of the S.S. founded O.D.E.S.S.A (Organization Der Ehemaligen SS Angehörigen) in 1947 to facilitate the evasion of former Nazis out of Germany and Austria who had good reasons to fear human justice. The documentary also covers the foundation of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in 1977, whose documentary division, Moriah Films, produced “I Have Never Forgotten You – The Life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal.” Simon Wiesenthal Center is a multifaceted, international Jewish human rights organization. To its credit, the documentary does not hesitate to highlight less flattering aspects of Wiesenthal’s personality. Despite his undeniable achievements, Wiesenthal was a controversial man. Here follow a few examples covered in the documentary. Wiesenthal’s quest for justice had a heavy toll on his wife, Cyla, who also miraculously survived the Shoah, and on their only child, Paulinka. To her credit, Cyla stood by her husband's campaign to catch the worst Nazi criminals. Wiesenthal originally never thought that the prosecution of Nazi criminals would become a consuming and dangerous life pursuit. Furthermore, the documentary also addresses the controversy that Wiesenthal was sometimes claiming too much credit for bringing some Nazi criminals to justice. In addition, the documentary covers the “Kurt Waldheim affair” in which Wiesenthal was severely criticized for defending Waldheim who had knowledge of, but was not personally involved in the WWII crimes in the Balkans. Perhaps more importantly, “I Have Never Forgotten You – The Life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal” is a warning to humanity that the Holocaust was not the last ignominy in the lamentable catalog of human abuses. Cambodia, Rwanda, former Yugoslavia, and Sudan are just a few remin

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