VIENNA (Mar. 27)
A book by a Dutch journalist supporting Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal in his feud with Chancellor Bruno Kreisky has been denounced by Kreisky’s Social Democratic Party as an “anti-Austrian pamphlet” that mingles “the author’s opinion with fabrication and facts”. The book, by Martin Van Amerongen, was published here under the title, “Kreisky and His Unmastered Past”. Its original title was “Conspiracy Against Simon Wiesenthal”.
It deals with the dispute between Kreisky and Wiesenthal over the Chancellor’s support of Friedrich Peter, leader of the right-wing Freedom Party, against charges by Wiesenthal that he participated in war crimes against Jews and others while a member of the Nazi SS 1st Infantry Brigade during World War II. Wiesenthal disclosed in 1975 that Peter’s brigade, along with others, killed 400,000 persons, mostly Jews, in southern Russia and the Ukraine between September and November, 1942.
Kreisky, who is Jewish, accused Wiesenthal of making “unqualified charges” against Peter and said he failed to present any valid evidence that Peter was himself involved in war crimes. The Freedom Party holds ten of 183 seats in the Austrian parliament.
Van Amerongen, who said the purpose of his book was to give Wiesenthal moral support, was assailed in the Socialist Party organ Arbeiter-Zeitung for his personal attack on Kreisky. The Dutch writer claimed that Kreisky abandoned the Jewish community in 1932 and condoned anti-Semitism in order to further his political career. He also suggested that Kreisky’s popularity among Austrian voters stemmed from guilt feelings over the persecution of Jews, not anti-Fascist sentiments.