CREDOS: Pursuing truth — III

He was dogged in his obsession to find as much as possible to track [Nazis] down. And then he alerted the Israelis or alerted the US government to the whereabouts of these people.

In some cases he was accused of embellishing [his success], especially with respect to [the Nazi concentration camp doctor Josef] Mengele, who may have died years before. He continued to manufacture new sightings of Mengele, and many people assumed that that was because it was a great way to raise money for the Jewish Documentation Center. Every time he reported new leads on Mengele, he could expect that more people would contribute to his efforts. Similarly, he exaggerated his role in the tracking down of [Third Reich official and S.S. Obersturmbannführer] Adolf Eichmann. I think it’s pretty clear that early on, he tipped off the Israelis [about Eichmann’s whereabouts]. But the work was really done by the Mossad.

He wasn’t involved in the planning phases like a true hunter. So I think that what’s really important about him is not to inflate the physical prowess or the wily, clever hunting dimension. It’s really to say that here was a guy who dedicated his life to a certain kind of moral truth. And the way he preserved that truth was to create a documentation center and to create an incredible Rolodex of people who were constantly on the lookout for information about a hit-list of all the Nazis who had escaped prosecution [at the war-crimes tribunals] in Nuremberg. —