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'Distortions' About Josef Mengele Investigation Rebutted

January 19, 1986

This is to clarify the many distortions contained in the letters (Times, Jan. 12) by Mr. and Mrs. Tony van Renterghem and Eva Mozes Kor in reference to the Mengele search and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

First, the Simon Wiesenthal Center did send Mr. and Mrs. van Renterghem to Porto Santo. Their report was carefully analyzed. They were immediately informed of the conclusion of one of the world's foremost intelligence agencies that the man in Porto Santo was not Dr. Josef Mengele. The van Renterghems simply could not accommodate themselves to those facts. They continued to push their theory beyond all reason. Since then, they have tried to tell their story to numerous newspapers and other media throughout the world without much success. On one occasion they told the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Dr. Gerald Margolis, that Time magazine had given them $2,000 to put a hold on their story.

No one in the world would want to have caught up with Josef Mengele more than the Simon Wiesenthal Center or Simon Wiesenthal, but neither of us is prepared to push the Porto Santo connection in the face of the authoritative intelligence conclusions to the contrary.

With reference to the letter of Eva Kor, permit me to state that even the knowledge that she had suffered pain under the Nazi Holocaust does not give her the right to publicly distort the truth. For starters, the Simon Wiesenthal Center was one of the only Jewish organizations in the United States to support the work of CANDLES, specifically, to the tune of $7,500. During the CANDLES "J'Accuse" conference in Jerusalem, the center paid for the following panelists' and delegates' tickets to attend the conference: former Nuremberg chief prosecutor Prof. Telford Taylor; Mark Berkowitz, the president of CANDLES, and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center.

In addition to this, the center funded the videotaping of the entire CANDLES conference so that it would be preserved for posterity. For Mrs. Kor to state that her organization never received any funds from the Simon Wiesenthal Center is a deliberate smear tactic. I might add we have always had a good relationship with the responsible members of CANDLES. For the record I might further add that while Mrs. Kor professes to represent the survivor community, it is of interest to note that during the recent American gathering of Holocaust survivors in Philadelphia, it was Mrs. Kor who rudely interrupted the proceedings, lambasting Mr. Benjamin Mead, the president of the American gathering, Mr. Elie Wiesel, and the entire survivor leadership, using the same irresponsible language and charges that she now levels in her attack against the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

In conclusion, let me state that the center acknowledges the courage of Mr. and Mrs. Tony van Renterghem in having accepted the assignment to go to Porto Santo. But our acknowledgment cannot be misinterpreted as an endorsement of a position that we simply see as untenable, and which runs counter to the facts.

RABBI MARVIN HIER

Dean, Simon Wiesenthal Center

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