Nazi-Hunter Wiesenthal Worked for Israel
Biography counters belief that Israel didn't actively go after Nazis
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2010 7:29 AM CDT
Visitors to the Museum of Tolerance view photos of Simon Wiesenthal, who was responsible for bringing more than 1,100 Nazi war criminals to trial.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Simon Wiesenthal wasn't the one-man Nazi-hunting organization he was seen as, but a longtime agent of the Israeli secret service—who, contrary to what has long been believed, played an active role in locating Nazis, according to a new biography. Author Tom Segev, whose Simon Wiesenthal: The Life and Legends hits shelves this week, says he interviewed the Holocaust survivor's Mossad handlers after discovering their names in his private papers, the New York Times reports.

Israel worked with Wiesenthal, an Austrian, from the earliest days of its creation, Segev says. He was provided with an Israeli passport and a monthly salary and tasked with finding Nazi war criminals and reporting on the activities of former Nazis in Arab countries. Segev says his findings call for a rethink of the view that Israel took little interest in tracking down Nazis before Adolf Eichmann's capture in 1960, or afterward. His book describes a failed attempt by Wiesenthal, working with Israeli agents, to capture Eichmann in Austria in 1949.