Thursday, June 28, 2007

Former U.N. chief Waldheim had admitted major powers knew he was Nazi even while he was UN leader

June 14, 2007
MSNBC: VIENNA, Austria - Kurt Waldheim, a former United Nations secretary-general and Austrian president who became tainted by revelations that he hid his past in Nazi Germany's officer corps, died Thursday aged 88.

The Austrian presidency and a Waldheim family spokesman revealed his death, saying it came after a short illness. The domestic APA news agency said he had died of heart failure, quoting Waldheim's son-in-law.

Waldheim admitted concealing his service with Hitler's Wehrmacht in the Balkans but always denied knowing of Nazi war crimes committed there at the time, including deportations of thousands of Greek Jews.

A significant number of top Nazis were Austrian, including Adolf Hitler.

"If my life story has contributed to a new approach to history (in Austria), then it is positive — of course at the price of damage to me personally," Waldheim said in an interview with Austrian daily Der Standard in January 2006.

He said the intelligence services of major powers certainly knew about his past when he was UN leader in 1971-82, but that his economy with the truth was in retrospect "certainly a mistake," while reiterating that he was fundamentally innocent.
Until 1986, Waldheim was largely seen as a somewhat aloof, bland statesman without skeletons in his closet, a man who had served a decade as U.N. secretary-general after a career in Austria's diplomatic service dating back to 1945.

During Austria's 1986 presidential election, newsmagazine Profil published his old military registration card with stamps suggesting he had belonged to the Nazi Brownshirts, Hitler's paramilitary street force, before World War II.

Profil said it had also found evidence Waldheim had served in the Balkans in 1942-45, much of this under General Alexander Lohr, who was executed for war crimes in 1947.

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