Simon Wiesenthal   Letter 10   14-Aug-1997   Prisoner with two pistols
August 14, 1997

Simon Wiesenthal
Jewish Documentation Center
Salztorgasse 6
1010 Vienna

Dear Mr. Wiesenthal:

As I have already pointed out in my letter to you of December 15, 1994, your biographies acknowledge that you have been accused of surviving the war by working for the Nazis (as, for example, in Simon Wiesenthal, Justice Not Vengeance, 1989, p. 7).  I have never seen what the evidence is that your accusers are relying on, but I must say that your biographies, rather than dispelling such suspicions, serve more to encourage them.

In the present letter, I wish to resume that theme.

Specifically, in The Murderers Among Us, your biographer, Joseph Wechsberg, reports that while you were a prisoner in a forced-labor camp, your German superior, Kohlrautz, "went so far as to allow Wiesenthal to hide two pistols, which he had obtained by clandestine means, in Kohlrautz's desk" (The Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Memoirs, edited and with an introductory profile by Joseph Wechsberg, McGraw Hill, New York, 1967, p. 31).

I trust that you will be able to offer some explanation of how it is possible for a Jewish prisoner in a forced-labor camp to be allowed by his German superior to keep two pistols; but to me, the image is totally baffling.  Why would a German allow a Jewish prisoner to keep two pistols?  To my mind, a pistol is an instrument used to apply lethal force it has no other use.  So, who was it that you contemplated applying lethal force to?  Certainly not to the Germans surely if there had been any possibility of that, then no German would have allowed you to keep two pistols.  Surely you had in mind the possibility of applying lethal force to somebody other than the Germans.  Who then?  And why?  And under what circumstances?  You report working as a sign painter in a railway yard, and as a technician, and as a draftsman but why would a sign painter or a technician or a draftsman need, and why would he be allowed to keep, two pistols?

Unless you clarify this question for your readers, Mr. Wiesenthal, they may tend to the view that pistols would be allowed to a guard, or an informer, or a trusted collaborator, but not to a sign painter.  And they may tend also to the view that the lethal force would be applied to the prisoners the Ukrainians, the Poles, the Jews.

Sincerely yours,

Lubomyr Prytulak