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Wiesel Believes Mengele’s Fate Secondary to Story of Help He Got

June 14, 1985
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Elie Wiesel, author and chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council believes the fate of Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele — whether he is alive or dead — is a secondary issue compared to the “shocking” fact that “so many organizations, official and unofficial” helped him and other Nazi war criminals escape justice after World War II.

Wiesel offered his first public comment on reports Mengele died in Brazil six years ago in the course of an address at the American Jewish Congress annual dinner here Tuesday where he received the organization’s “Voice of Conscience” award. It was presented by Howard Squadron, honorary chairman of the AJC.

Wiesel noted that “a network of solidarity” was created after the war consisting of social and economic groups and including church organizations which “provided the assistance needed” for Mengele and other war criminals to evade punishment.

“What an irony, what an injustice that the killers managed to get so much help when their victims did not,” Wiesel said. He said he was “ashamed” that the intelligence communities in the West and in the Soviet Union sought out Nazi scientists after the war, sheltered them and treated them as “guests of honor.” He asked, “How is it possible that all morality disappeared, that conscience vanished in those times?”


Referring to another matter, Wiesel disclosed that he has received volumes of anti-Semitic hate mail since he made his public appeal to President Reagan at the White House not to visit the military cemetery in Bitburg, West Germany, where members of the notorious Waffen SS are buried among other

Nevertheless, Wiesel observed, “the tragedy of the Jewish people is beginning to be examined and heard.” He said the Mengele case has provoked extraordinary interest in the U.S. because it represents deeper issues concerning the Nazi era than the fate of Mengele as an individual.

Wiesel declared he does not believe in “collective” guilt. “Only the killers are guilty. Only their accomplices are guilty. Not their children,” he said.

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