Document Rekindles Waldheim Furor

From Times Wire Services

The World Jewish Congress released a German army document Wednesday that appears to show that Kurt Waldheim, Austria's president-elect, was aware of the slaughter of women, children and other innocents in Greece during World War II.

The document, a captured 1944 intelligence report found in the National Archives, was the first released by the New York-based group since Waldheim, former secretary general of the United Nations, won the Austrian presidency in a June 8 runoff election with 53.9% of the vote.

The group has accused Waldheim of concealing his service with the German army in World War II in parts of the Balkans where war crimes were committed.

Denies War Crimes

Earlier documents had indicated Waldheim's responsibilities included compiling daily intelligence reports, several of which contained clear evidence of his unit's deportation of thousands of Greeks to death camps and of deadly reprisal attacks against Yugoslav partisans.

Waldheim, 67, has acknowledged that he was a third ordnance officer in his Germany army unit but that he merely served as a translator and knew of no war crimes.

This new document, however, bears a "received" stamp from Waldheim's office in Arsalki, Greece, with the initial "W" on it. Dated Jan. 8, 1944, the document is from the German military commander of Greece and describes a series of atrocities by German troops. The unidentified commander reported on the "political repercussions of operations against the bandits"--a term used by the Germans for partisans.

The document cited the following situations:

--In the village of Lyngiades, 82 inhabitants were reported shot, including "42 children under the age of 15." The document also noted that "more than 1,000 Greek citizens were killed without differentiation between guilty and innocent" because the "victims included many women and children."

'Monks Were Shot'

--A historic church set afire by troops, "and the 13 elderly monks in the cloister were shot."

--"The number of villages set afire in the general government of Epirus exceeds 100."

Meanwhile, Austrian Jewish leaders Wednesday accused Waldheim's supporters of exploiting anti-Semitism in his presidential campaign and said they would not let the matter rest.

"Now after the election, to be silent today would be a negation not only of self-respect, but such silence would be damaging to all," said Ivan Hacker, chairman of the Austrian Jewish Community.

Waldheim has denied that his campaign exploited anti-Semitism to gain votes. He said after the election that as president he would stand up for the rights of minorities, especially Jews.

The World Jewish Congress renewed its call for U.S. Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III to act on the recommendation of the Justice Department that Waldheim be banned from the United States for complicity in Nazi war crimes.

The department's Office of Special Investigations is reviewing extensive evidence before Meese makes a decision, which is not expected for a few weeks, officials said.

Diplomatic Status

Waldheim's new status as Austrian president-elect, however, means he now is accorded diplomatic status and will be allowed to enter the United States even if Meese places him on the immigration "watch list."

Meanwhile, more than 100 members of the House on Wednesday called on President Reagan to ignore diplomatically Waldheim's July 8 inauguration.

In a letter to Reagan, 79 Democrats and 32 Republicans criticized Waldheim for "misrepresentation" of his World War II record and urged the president not to attend the inauguration nor to send an official U.S. representative.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
67°