WASHINGTON (Apr. 21)
Kurt Waldheim’s son asserted here Monday that his father was never a Nazi and was never involved in Nazi atrocities during World War II or in attempts to cover up such atrocities. “I know very well my father has a clear conscience,” Gerhard Waldheim, an Austrian banker, told a press conference at the National Press Club.
The World Jewish Congress has presented documentary evidence that Waldheim, a former Secretary General of the United Nations, participated in the deportation of Jews from Salonika in Greece and the execution of partisans in Yugoslavia.
The younger Waldheim, who was born in 1948, charged that there were “other issues” behind the WJC charges, which he called “baseless.” He did not explain his charge except to say that his father, who is the Austrian Peoples Party candidate for President, is the last of the generation who participated in World War II who will be seeking office and so this is the last time the issue of Nazi participation could be raised.
The younger Waldheim, a Harvard Business School graduate, sought to refute the charges against his father, repeating the assertions already made publicly by the elder Waldheim.
“Most of all, I want to dispel the grossly false charge that my father has changed his story repeatedly as fresh information has surfaced,” Waldheim said. “His only ‘changes’ have been to add supplemental information to prove false the ‘when did you stop beating your wife’ accusations that have been continuously thrown at him.”
Waldheim said his father’s only interest during the war was to see it end and to prepare for the subsequent peace. He said his father would be saddened if he was elected president in a backlash against Jews. He said the senior Waldheim wants to have Austria come to terms with that period.
At the outset of his comments, Waldheim noted that “having been born in 1948, I am of a new generation in my country, Austria, a country, by the way, that is the principal country to receive Jews leaving the Soviet Union … and remains a point of return to freedom for Soviet Jews.”
He added that his father had been “Foreign Minister of Austria and supported this cause.”