Several hundred friends, relatives and foreign ambassadors gathered at the cemetery in the Mediterranean coastal town of Herzliya for the send-off to the war-criminal hunter who died in Vienna on Tuesday, aged 86.
Many mourners said they had travelled to honour Mr Wiesenthal’s commitment to tracking down and bringing to justice those responsible for the Holocaust.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, who founded the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre, delivered a eulogy to the man he called the first representative of the victims of the unimaginable horrors of the Nazi Holocaust.
“He had the force to sketch the face of the murderers. He was the first representative of the victims of the Shoah. He assumed the job that nobody wanted to do,” he said.
Mr Wiesenthal was known throughout the world for his life-long investigations but incited controversy in an Austria struggling to deal with its own Nazi past.
A survivor of the Nazi death camps, where he lost scores of his relatives, he led a tenacious campaign to bring the killers to justice and ensure the six million Jews who died would never be forgotten.
Wreaths from all over the world were piled up alongside his tomb, the first burial plot on the right of the entrance to the Herzliya graveyard.
Austria’s secretary of state for culture, Franz Morak, mourned the loss of “a great humanist and a peacemaker” and one of the country’s “great sons”.
Among those in attendance were visitors from the United States and a small group of Holocaust survivors.
Also present was 96-year-old Paulina Kodkiewski, who told AFP she had hidden Wiesenthal for a year before he was arrested by the Nazis and deported to the concentration camps.
“That’s the reason why Simon Wiesenthal chose the same first name as me for his daughter”, she said, accompanied by her daughter and grand-daughter.
The Israeli government has come under scrutiny for only sending a junior minister to attend the funeral, bringing into question what Mr Wiesenthal, who lived his entire life in Europe, actually meant to the Jewish state.
Efraim Zuroff, head of the Wiesenthal Centre in Israel, was quoted in the Jerusalem Post newspaper saying Mr Wiesenthal was “totally ignored by the Israeli establishment for decades.”
During his lifetime Mr Wiesenthal helped to track down 1,100 Nazis, including Adolf Eichmann, an architect of Austrian-born Adolf Hitler’s “final solution” to exterminate all Jews.