Simon Wiesenthal, a Holocaust survivor who spent much of his life hunting down Nazi war criminals, died Tuesday in the Austrian capital of Vienna at the age of 96.
Wiesenthal died in his sleep at his home, said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.
"Simon Wiesenthal was the conscience of the Holocaust," Hier said. "When the Holocaust ended in 1945 and the whole world went home to forget, he alone remained behind to remember. He did not forget.
"He became the permanent representative of the victims, determined to bring the perpetrators of the history's greatest crime to justice."
Between 1933 and 1945, the Nazis are believed to have killed at least 11 million civilians including six million Jews in central and eastern Europe.
When asked why he chose to track down Nazis who had escaped trial, Wiesenthal said: "When history looks back, I want people to know the Nazis weren't able to kill millions of people and get away with it," reports CTV.
According to Forbes, Wiesenthal helped bring more than 1,100 Nazi criminals to justice including Adolf Eichmann, the mastermind of Hitler's 'Final Solution,' who was tracked down by Israeli agents in Argentina in 1960.
Israeli President Moshe Katsav, on a visit to Latvia, said Wiesenthal was a fighter who had left the world a better place.
'Simon Wiesenthal was the biggest fighter of our generation. He represented the morality of humanity; he represented the free world, the democratic world,' Katsav said.
The Anne Frank Foundation, which honours the memory of a young German Jewish girl whose diary of her family's two years in hiding from the Nazis is one of the most compelling accounts of Nazi terror, praised Wiesenthal for helping to track down the Gestapo officer who finally arrested them in Amsterdam in 1944.
"He is the one who, after a search of many years, found Karl Joseph Silberbauer... Simon Wiesenthal devoted his life to hunting down Nazis," the foundation said in a statement.