VIENNA (Oct. 13)
Chancellor Bruno Kreisky sharply attacked Simon Wiesenthal’s war crimes documentation center here as “a political mafia that works against Austria’s interests.” Kreisky addressed a press conference yesterday at which he strongly defended Friedrich Peter, head of the right-wing Freedom Party who was accused by Wiesenthal last week of having been a member of the First SS Infantry Brigade in World War II which executed 10,513 people, including 8350 Jews in the Soviet Union in 1942.
“Wiesenthal’s revelation was mainly directed at me.” Kreisky told newsmen. “He is known for not being too exact with the truth and for using tricks. In this case. It is a politician (Peter) who is being murdered,” the Chancellor said.
Wiesenthal told newsmen afterwards that he would sue Kreisky for his statements. “I have told my lawyer to take the necessary steps to take legal action against Kreisky,” he said. He also disclosed that he had received more than 100 threats against his life and 10 bomb threats soon after he made his charges against Peter on Austrian television.
Peter was re-elected to the Austrian Parliament a week ago. His party won 10 of the 183 seats. Kreisky’s Social Democratic Party, however, retained its absolute majority. There had been speculation that had the Socialists failed to retain their majority. Kreisky was prepared to form a coalition government with the Freedom Party, elevating Peter to the office of Vice-Chancellor.
Peter has admitted membership in the SS brigade but rejected charges that he had ever participated in murders or persecution. Wiesenthal himself conceded that there was no evidence that Peter had ever personally executed anyone.