How Some Famous Stamp Collectors Got Started
However, one collector mentioned in the piece, Simon Wiesenthal, hunter of Nazi war criminals, is not so well known for his philatelic passion.
According to Hornadge, "Wiesenthal was near death in the infamous Mauthausen concentration camp when it was captured by the American army in May 1945. After expert medical treatment, Wiesenthal recovered some of his physical strength and joined the War Crimes Office of the American army. But the mental stress he had gone through in the camp played such havoc with his mind that he suffered from insomnia and by 1948 was close to a complete nervous breakdown. The doctor whom he consulted realised that Wiesenthal needed an interest strong enough to expunge the torturing memories of Mauthausen. He recommended stamp collecting."
Hornadge goes on to say, " Until that time, Wiesenthal had no interest in philately, but he realised the soundness of the doctor’s advice and decided to take up collecting to quieten his nerves."
Wiesenthal is quoted as saying, "“I don’t wish to serve as a publicity agent for stamp dealers, but I must admit that the new hobby really diverted me and put my mind at rest. I bought some catalogues, magnifying glasses, a pair of tweezers etc. and spent my evenings bent over the stamps which caught increasingly my imagination. It made me forget the events of the preceding day. It became a passion with me.”
Shown above, 2010 Israeli stamp commemorating the life of Simon Wiesenthal.
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