Simon Wiesenthal Screws "Life Magazine" and Three Young Germans

Published: 1984-10-01

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In 1946 IBIS VERLAG of Linz and Vienna, Austria, published a book put together by Simon Wiesenthal titled KZ Mauthausen, which allegedly describes how it was to be interned in Mauthausen concentration camp.

On page 64 of KZ Mauthausen there is a reproduction of a drawing signed by "S. Wiesenthal" depicting three camp prisoners, dressed in striped camp uniforms, who have been executed by German SS. The three victims are shown hanging from their execution posts in grotesque and pathetic poses, and it breaks your heart to imagine what Simon Wiesenthal must have suffered being forced to observe such events while being helpless to stop them.

Now for the amusing part.

In the 11 June 1945 issue of Life Magazine there are several pages of photo-journalism showing three youthful German soldiers being executed as spies by the American military. The German youths had been caught behind American lines wearing American uniforms, were court martialed and condemned to death, as they must have known they would be if they were discovered.

On page 48 there are three photos, each showing one of the German youths (aged 21,18, and 23) being tied to their execution posts, white targets pinned to their hearts. According to Life, they refused the ministrations of an American chaplain, and they sang patriotic German songs together until the bullets exploded in their chests.

It's going to give you an odd feeling to see on the same page with these gruesome photographs an advertisement featuring a cartoon of a cheerful Bing Crosby saying "I'll be a glad dad… when my four little shavers give me Personna Blades on Father's Day."

Then on page 50 there are three more photos showing the three young German soldiers, dead now, hanging from the posts to which they are tied, having assumed, with a coincidence that is really too wonderful to believe, the exact poses of the three executed Mauthausen camp inmates drawn from "memory" by Simon Wiesenthal and published a year later in his book KZ Mauthausen.

In order to make his drawing more "accurate," Simon had to change the American military garb worn by the Germans when they were executed to the striped clothing worn by camp inmates. Other than that he was content to copy the Life photographs and simply change the captions.

It is not difficult to conclude, holding the pictures in my hand, that. while the three "Nazi" youths behaved courageously and died honorably, Simon Wiesenthal, taking here his first step out into the world as a renowned "Holocaust Survivor," being 35 years old at the time, began his career by fraudulently exploiting the deaths of men who appear to have been his betters. And as you will learn, there is no evidence that his character has improved with age.

The 11 June 1945 issue of Life is available at public libraries. If you have trouble locating a copy of KZ Mauthausen, get in touch with me and I will be able to help you with it.

That is, if any of you think there is a story there.

Additional information about this document
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Author(s): Bradley R. Smith
Title: Simon Wiesenthal Screws "Life Magazine" and Three Young Germans
Sources: Prima Facie, no. 1, October 1984, pp. 1-3
Published: 1984-10-01
First posted on CODOH: July 7, 2012, 7 p.m.
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