World mourns Simon Wiesenthal, Nazi hunter
Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, who died in Vienna aged 96, was lauded across the world as a "tenacious" fighter who kept alive the cause of justice for victims of the Holocaust.
A Holocaust survivor who lost scores of relatives to the World War II Nazi death camps, Wiesenthal was "the conscience of the world," according to Aver Shalev, the director of Israel's Holocaust memorial, said in Jerusalem.
"The Jewish people and all of humanity owe a lot to him because he acted systematically and very strongly ... He will be remembered as a symbol for the Jewish and human conscience, the need to protect moral values," Shalev said.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said Wiesenthal was "engaged in action when others remained silent".
"Simon Wiesenthal was dedicated to justice in trying to give back the victims of the Holocaust their visage and dignity," Schroeder said. He had "largely contributed to the fact that Germany, like all democratic states, has become conscious of the need to assure the foundations of freedom, human dignity, tolerance and mutual respect, constantly and attentively."
Paul Spiegel, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said Wiesenthal "battled for justice with the most profound faith in humanity. He wanted not revenge but justice, and that the millions of victims of Nazi terror should never be forgotten."
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said Wiesenthal's efforts had helped the UN's own attempts to promote tolerance and fight anti-semitism,
"He sent an important message to the world that there should be no impunity for genocide and crimes against humanity," Annan said.
Wiesenthal helped bring more than 1,100 Nazi criminals to justice including Adolf Eichmann, the mastermind of Hitler's "Final Solution," who was tracked down by Israeli agents in Argentina in 1960.
Israeli President Moshe Katsav, on a visit to Latvia, said "was the biggest fighter of our generation. He represented the morality of humanity."
The Anne Frank Foundation, which honours the memory of a young German Jewish girl whose diary of her family's two years in hiding from the Nazis is one of the most compelling accounts of Nazi terror, praised Wiesenthal for helping to track down the Gestapo officer who finally arrested them in Amsterdam in 1944.
"He is the one who, after a search of many years, found Karl Joseph Silberbauer," the foundation said.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, said Wiesenthal, who trained as an architect, pursued fugitive Nazis with "sheer tenacity."
"He lost 89 members of his family, in the Holocaust," Hier told AFP. "I wondered how he could go on.
"He was doing it for his grandchildren, because if not, tomorrow murderers would take inspiration from the Nazis."
The Polish former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa said Wiesenthal's passing was "a huge loss which has robbed the world of another honest man."
"Even from heaven, he will continue to bring justice to the perpetrators of evil," Walesa told AFP.
Czech former president Vaclav Havel said Wiesenthal "taught us never to forget."
One of the leaders of the 1943 uprising in Warsaw's Jewish ghetto, Marek Edelman, urged the world not to let the good work of Wiesenthal die with him.
French President Jacques Chirac praised Wiesenthal as an "untiring fighter for justice and law," while French historian Marc Knobel, who worked with Wiesenthal, described him as a frail old man with a mighty spirit.
"He was a little, frail, fragile man with poor health, who spoke German with a little voice and a strong (eastern European) accent," said Knobel, of the French Jewish Council.
But despite his physical frailties, "he had a perspicacity, a tenacity and a courage that was exemplary," Knobel said.
Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel said, "We have lost an indefatigable fighter against forgetting," he said.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Wiesenthal "will forever be rightly credited with ensuring justice was done for some of the worst crimes in history".
In Hungary, Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany said "all of humanity is poorer" for the loss.
"The Holocaust took everything he held most dear, his family. But he gave the generation of survivors that thing without which they could not have lived in peace -- a belief in justice," Gyurcsany said.
The grand rabbi of Russia, Berl Lazare, said Wiesenthal was motivated not by revenge but by the search for justice and truth. "That's what he did, right up to the last day," he said.
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Wiesenthal was a man of "unyielding courage and determination."
Terry Davis, secretary general of the Council of Europe, called Wiesenthal "a soldier of justice, which is indispensable to our freedom, stability and peace. It was people like him who helped us to build Europe as we know it today."