A new biography of Simon Weisenthal reveals that the famed Nazi hunter may have had some heretofore-unknown friends in high places. According to author Tom Segev, who was granted unprecedented access, Wiesenthal was not just a crusading individual acting alone — he was on the payroll of Mossad.
An article in The New York Times details Segev’s discovery, which was based on interviews with people who claimed to be Wiesenthal’s Mossad handlers. The book reveals Wiesenthal’s code name (Theocrat) and suggests that the oft-held view that Israel was not a major player in tracking down Nazis needs to be re-evaluated.
The article details one story in the book, which placed Wiesenthal in Austria in 1948, as part of a mostly unknown attempt to capture Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann. Another Israeli agent botched the mission by sharing stories of Israel’s war on independence with Austrian barflies. Eichmann got word that Israelis were around town and fled. (He was finally apprehended in Argentina in 1960.)
The book, Simon Weisenthal: The Life and Legends, will be released in the United States this week.