Holocaust Center in Honor of Wiesenthal to Be Built in Vienna

The $17.1 million research center is expected to be completed by 2010, will receive heavy contributions from Austrian government.

Officials at the University of Vienna announced Monday they plan to build a new Holocaust research center in honor of the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal.

The $17.1 million center, to be called the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies, is targeted to be completed by 2009 or 2010, project leader Anton Pelinka said during an evening presentation.

"The institute will give a worthy framework to the archives and legacy of Simon Wiesenthal," Pelinka told reporters. He said Wiesenthal, who died last September at age 96, had wanted the records he amassed over decades of sleuthing around the world to be preserved in the Austrian capital.

Officials said the 3,000-square-meter center will house some 8,000 documents, including files from the country's World War II resistance movement. "This will put Austria on the map of international Holocaust research" and efforts to stamp out racism and anti-Semitism, Pelinka said.

Wiesenthal, who survived five Nazi concentration camps and seven other prisons, devoted his life to tracking down suspected Nazi war criminals and became a voice for the 6 million Jews who perished as victims of Hitler's "Final Solution." He died in Vienna on September 20 and was buried in Israel.

Organizers said the city of Vienna and the government of Austria would contribute heavily to the construction of the center, and that a location would be selected as early as February.

Wiesenthal, who lost 89 relatives during the war, weighed just 99 pounds when a U.S. Army armored unit liberated him and other inmates at Mauthausen in May 1945.

Enlisted by the Americans to research war criminals, the architect pursued the mission long after Allied forces lost interest.

Wiesenthal spent more than 50 years hunting Nazi war criminals, speaking out against neo-Nazism and racism, and remembering the Jewish experience as a lesson for humanity. He estimated he helped bring some 1,100 Nazi war criminals to justice.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which was established in his name to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, is based in Los Angeles.