New center for Holocaust studies to carry on Wiesenthal's legacy in Vienna

Center, expected to open by 2008, will bring researchers to Vienna for projects on the Holocaust, genocide.

Several groups plan to open a center for Holocaust studies in Vienna to carry on the legacy of Austrian Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, who died last week, an official of a Jewish group said Tuesday. The Vienna Wisenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies, expected to be fully operating by 2008, will bring guest researchers to the Austrian capital for projects related to the Holocaust and other cases of genocide, said Ingo Zechner, an official with the Jewish Community in Vienna, one of the groups behind the project. The center also will be hold the archive of documents Wiesenthal gathered during his decades of work to track down Nazi war criminals. "Wiesenthal didn't want his archives to only be stored somewhere, but that they be used in research and that they be used for information efforts. He wanted his documents to be available to the public so that future generations can benefit from them," Zechner said. Wiesenthal, who died a week ago at age 96 in his Vienna home, helped find hundreds of war criminals, including one-time SS leader Adolf Eichmann, who organized the killing of millions of Jews. The center will be housed in a downtown Vienna building owned by the Jewish Community and will contribute to efforts to make the capital a center for Holocaust research, Zechner said. It also will train teachers in Holocaust education and organize public events such as exhibits to raise awareness. The city of Vienna has promised to support the center financially, and the government of Austria has said it will make a decision on state financial support in November, Zechner said. Groups such as the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance and the Vienna University's Institute for Contemporary History are involved in creating the new center. Anton Pelinka, dean of the center, said it was a "sad coincidence" that talks with officials began the same week Wiesenthal died. "The meetings had been set for weeks," he said in a statement.