The Simon Wiesenthal Center said Monday that Kurt Waldheim’s doctoral thesis, written in 1944 at the University of Vienna, shows that he was sympathetic with Adolf Hitler’s goal of absorbing other European countries and creating a continent-wide reich ruled by Berlin.
Waldheim, the former U.N. secretary general who is seeking the Austrian presidency, has been accused of concealing a Nazi past. The World Jewish Congress has charged Waldheim with complicity in atrocities against Yugoslav partisans and Greek Jews while he served in the German Wehrmacht in 1942-43.
While conceding that he did not detail his German military service in his official biography, Waldheim has denied knowledge of any atrocities and said he was never a Nazi. The Austrian presidential election is scheduled for May 4.
In testimony prepared for delivery today to the House subcommittee on human rights, Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Los Angeles-based Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, will say that its examination of Waldheim’s thesis proves that he was “sympathetic with (the) idea of a greater reich and a Germany that included Austria and the other European countries.” The thesis “extols and endorses the greater reich concept,” Hier will say.
The subject of the thesis was Konstantin Frantz, a 19th-Century German philosopher who, according to Hier, was a notorious anti-Semite.
Hier said Waldheim did not cite any of Frantz’s anti-Semitic references in his thesis. But, Hier said, “there is no criticism of Frantz in the Waldheim thesis, only appreciative and laudatory statements and the recognition that Frantz was too early . . . and the true realization of Frantz’s idea was to be realized later, . . . meaning the Third Reich.”
The Wiesenthal Center, which was founded in 1978 to study the Holocaust, charged that Waldheim’s scholarly thinking was summed up by the last lines of his thesis, which quoted Friedrich Gentz, a political figure in Europe during the Congress of Vienna in 1815. While Gentz publicly courted the favor of Jews, the center charged, he was secretly an anti-Semite.
“Europe fell through Germany; through Germany, it must rise again,” the thesis concluded.
Hier said the Wiesenthal Center’s researchers examined the titles of 37 theses submitted in 1944 to the faculty of law at the University of Vienna. Other topics included issues of lumber production, the role of the Danube in European policy, and a report on old Bulgarian villages.
‘All Kinds of Topics’
“It was not necessary to write about Nazi topics,” Hier said. “There are all kinds of topics.”
The rabbi said that Waldheim’s choice of Frantz for his dissertation topic runs counter to the anti-Nazi beliefs Waldheim claimed in his autobiography.
Hier said neither Waldheim’s name nor the topic of his dissertation were contained in a comprehensive two-volume listing of theses at the University of Vienna published in 1954.