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New Documents on Waldheim

The European Jewish Congress made public Sunday new documents and a filmed interview that appeared to link Kurt Waldheim directly with war crimes and atrocities against Jews.

At the same time, the EJC called on Yugoslavia and any other countries which might have information relevant to Waldheim’s war-time activities to open their files to independent investigators. The EJC held a two-day meeting here, marking the 50th anniversary of the World Jewish Congress. It was attended by 135 delegates from 20 countries.

One of the new documents made public was a United Nations file based on information supplied by Yugoslavia which described Waldheim, the Austrian Presidential candidate and former United Nations Secretary General as, “wanted for murder” and the “execution of hostages.” The document assigns him an “A” rating, the highest priority at the time for wanted war criminals.

ACCOUNT BY ISRAELI WITNESSES

An Israeli film director, Michael Tal, screened interviews with two Israeli witnesses who said they had seen Waldheim participate personally in anti-Jewish commando actions in Greece in 1944.

One witness, Yehoshua Matza of Beersheba, said he saw a man “looking strikingly like Waldheim” beat Jewish prisoners while stealing their money and valuables. Matza and the other witness said the incident occurred in the Larissa camp in northern Greece on March 25, 1944.

The EJC plenary approved a resolution calling on the UN “to establish an appropriate and effective procedure for (the future) election of the world’s highest civil servant to prevent a similar situation from ever occurring again.” Waldheim served two terms as UN Secretary General, from 1972 to 1981.

POSITION OF AUSTRIAN, GERMAN DELEGATIONS

The EJC overwhelmingly backed the position taken by WJC leaders in New York to uncover Waldheim’s war-time activities. But the Austrian and German delegates expressed regret that there had been no prior consultation on the subject. Werner Nachman of West Germany said. “The WJC Executive should have consulted us before going public.”

He added, “European Jewry can best measure the political consequences of the revelations and should have been consulted.” Nachman, president of the West German Jewish community, noted that “We live in Europe and we are the ones who should have had their say.”

He and the Austrian delegate, Paul Grosz, a member of the executive of the Austrian Jewish community, nevertheless supported the WJC’s decision to reveal Waldheim’s past and expressed strong confidence in WJC secretary general Israel Singer.

The EJC session, which concludes Monday, is expected to vote on a resolution calling on the Vatican and on the Catholic Church in Poland to reconsider plans to build a Carmelite convent at the site of the Auschwitz death camp. Chief Rabbi Moses Rosen of Rumania, who is scheduled to meet with Pope John Paul II in Rome on Thursday, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he plans to raise this issue with the Pontiff. He said the meeting was scheduled at the Vatican’s initiative.

The delegates paid tribute to the late Yehuda Hellman, executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who died last week.

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