Amazon's new thriller Hunters is loosely based on the true story of Nazi-hunters in the '70s. However, there is still the question of whether Al Pacino's character in Hunters, Meyer Offerman, is actually based on a real person.
Creator David Weil told IndieWire that Hunters is "a love letter to my grandmother," who was a Holocaust survivor, "a quest to don that vigilante cape with the [current] rise of anti-Semitism and xenophobia.” It blends fantasy and the history of real Nazi-hunters who were hired by the U.S. government to take on Nazis “in the courts, through legal action.” There was also a real Jewish avengers group called Nakam, which means "revenge" in Hebrew, that actually did hunt down and kill Nazis, according to The Guardian.
While Hunters doesn't claim to be about any one specific group or person, some have questioned whether Pacino's Meyer Offerman, a rich Holocaust survivor who leads this vigilante group, was inspired by Simon Wiesenthal, a real life Nazi hunter who brought justice to his tormentors by prosecuting them in court.
Wiesenthal, a Holocaust survivor who was imprisoned in five concentration camps, dedicated his life to memorializing the 6 million Jews who were murdered during World War II. After he was freed in 1945, he gave a list of names of Nazi officials to the U.S. government and helped gather evidence for the first trials against war criminals. From then on, Wiesenthal continued to search for Nazis that he could prosecute. Wiesenthal wasn't interested in vengeance, instead, he said that he wanted to make sure that Nazi crimes were "brought to light so the new generation knows about them, so it should not happen again," per The New York Times. His work made him the most famous Nazi hunter in history.
While Wiesenthal practiced non-violence, Meyer certainly does not. He works outside of the law, uses all kinds of violent means to stop Nazis living in America from starting a Fourth Reich. (The New York Times referred to Pacino's character "as much Professor X as Wiesenthal.")
That may be why the Simon Wiesenthal Center has refuted any connection between Wiesenthal and the Amazon series executive produced by Jordan Peele. “If Pacino is supposed to be Simon Wiesenthal, that does not come through," a statement from Mark Weitzman, an official for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, read.
In an interview with The Times Of Israel, Weitzman pointed out that unlike Pacino's character Wiesenthal did not have a Yiddish accent, "did not speak in terms of mitzvot" or the commandments of the Torah, and did not take justice into his own hands. Instead, he took legal action to enact his revenge. Yet, Esquire pointed out that the show does take place in the years when Wiesenthal was active in his hunt.
As of now, the creators of Hunters have not said whether Wiesenthal was a direct influence on the show. But, Weitzman did tell The Times Of Israel, he does think Wiesenthal would have liked the idea of a series shining a light on the crimes committed during the Holocaust. “He’d be very amused,” Weitzman said.