LONDON (Jun. 2)
The election of Kurt Waldheim to the office of President of Austria “would be an act of symbolic amnesty for the Holocaust,” Edgar Bronfman, president of the World Jewish Congress, charged in a speech here Monday night. He described the former United Nations Secretary General as an “amoral and unrepentant liar.”
The occasion for Bronfman’s remarks was a reception marking the 20th anniversary of the London-based Institute of Jewish Affairs. It coincides with the release by the WJC of a 95-page report detailing its findings about Waldheim’s “hidden years” — the years of his service as a Wermacht intelligence officer in the Balkans which he omitted from his memoires and concealed for 40 years.
The WJC has compiled evidence linking the Austrian Presidential candidate with Nazi atrocities against Yugoslavian partisans and civilians and the deportation of Greek Jews. The evidence has been corroborated from other sources such as the files of the United Nations War Crimes Commission. Nevertheless, Waldheim remains the front-runner in the Austrian run-off elections next Sunday. During the elections on May 4, he came within four-tenths of a percentage point of winning half the vote and thereby avoiding a run-off.
Bronfman stated that Waldheim represents a “fresh assault on the conscience of mankind” in which “we are asked to believe that in a titanic struggle that took the lives of millions of people, there was no distinction between aggressors and victims.” The WJC president assailed the “selective moral amnesia” which Waldheim symbolized and by which “we are urged to believe that events and horrors that should never be forgotten no longer matter.”
He condemned “the rising overtones, innuendos, euphemisms and threats that have risen in the wake of the (Waldheim) disclosures,” warning that they “make it clear that the danger of a repetition of the horrors of nearly a half-century ago are all too real.” He was referring to an anti-Semitic backlash in Austria.