SIMON WIESENTHAL



When I Was Old Enough I Learned About My Uncle…

Some time back I remembered a conversation with my uncle, tell me a story about his triumph over the evils in this world in Europe and then the Pacific during World War II and the aftermath, the Holocaust.  As a child I saw the tattoos on my cousins arms like they tag cattle, I never knew how he was involved.   I live in Tampa Bay and we have a Holocaust museam in downtown St. Petersburg…

Quite a secret since obviously there were people who would have killed him.  He died and the family met for the funeral.  I was living in Florida and I flew with my mother to NY for the funeral.  Cars were lined up block after block and the funeral home was packed.  It took up both sides of Queens Boulevard and somehow I knew this was more important than just the loss of a relative.  Many of the owners of the great garment houses in NYC were in attendance…in those days clothes were made in factories here…

We knew something different,  when we met a man at his funeral, to whom we were introduced. And I did not have my cameras. I was told leave them home.  My uncle began to appear as an important man in the community, only we knew little.  He never mentioned it to family, again for safety. 

My uncle owned several businesses in the garment center and quite a unique import business from both the Philippines and Japan.  In those days most clothing was made in the garment center of Manhattan. He was a world trader.  And a sharp business man.  

My aunt went to Europe to the prestigious fashion shows, saw what she liked, bought some, brought them home, made a few changes and weeks later the knock-offs came to the states faster than the originals but at lower prices for the masses.  It was a 60 million dollar business.  In those days K-Mart was big for the average consumer and they were one of his best customers.


Characteristics…
In her memoirs Justice Ruth Ginsburg remarked her mother worked in that garment center.  Our family came from that same area in the Ukraine…  At the same time she immigrated to the United States.  I was introduced to a distinguished gentleman who came from overseas, traveled from AUSTRIA to offer the eulogy for my uncle.  His eulogy explained things I soon put it all together…

He spoke of being on this earth is a blessing from God, and one day you will meet God and he will ask of your credentials, the most important question…“ He will ask you what did you do for your fellow man, or your people”.  Then he told me what my Uncle did, and the reason he traveled half way around the world to speak at his funeral. It was a deal they had made years ago

A very long conversation with the man ensued, I then knew who he was and of his journey, I learned of the role my uncle and his brother in law had played all these years in his support … from the garment center and who had been brought to justice… It changed my whole life… I had an exclusive with  ― Simon Wiesenthal  -  The Nazi Hunter. And  I wasn’t even a reporter yet, but it was a trigger.  There are two kinds of people in this world…those you meet and those you remember.


Mr. Simon Wiesenthal From The Eulogy… 
  “ For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing.  Humor is the weapon of unarmed people: it helps people who are oppressed to smile at the situation that pains them.  God must have been on leave during the Holocaust.  

When the Germans first came to my city in Galicia, half the population was Jewish: one hundred fifty- thousand Jews. When the Germans were gone, five hundred were alive. ... Many times I was thinking that everything in life has a price, so to stay alive must also have a price.   And my price was always that, if I lived, I must be deputy for many people who are not alive.

The words are we will “ NEVER FORGET”  Many people believe “Never forget!” was first used this way in referring to the Holocaust. We can't confirm that, but we have found an example of that usage from soon after World War II. As part of Allied de-Nazification efforts, an exhibition entitled “Never Forget” opened on Sept. 14, 1946, in Vienna.