VIENNA (May. 4)
Foreign Minister Alois Mock announced Monday that Austria will set up a commission of historians to investigate the wartime activities of President Kurt Waldheim.
Waldheim himself intends to take legal action in response to allegations of his complicity in Nazi persecutions and atrocities. The allegations were the basis of the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision, announced a week ago, to bar Waldheim from entry into the United States.
It is “time to respond to these slanders through legal channels,” Waldheim said on a radio interview Monday, but he did not specify what type of legal action he was considering.
Mock, who is Vice Chancellor and head of the conservative People’s Party which ran Waldheim as its Presidential candidate last year, said the commission would be established after consultations with the President. He said it would comprise Austrian historians but could include foreign scholars approved by Waldheim. Mock also said that the “White Book” Waldheim commissioned to set straight details of his war record has been completed. He said it and the documents used to incriminate Waldheim, which the Austrian government has requested from Washington, would be made widely available.
Waldheim, who served for 10 years as United Nations Secretary General, has admitted to falsifying his military service record in his official autobiography. He claimed he was discharged from the German army in 1941 for a disability when actually he served as an intelligence officer in the Balkans. He has vehemently denied any involvement in atrocities against civilians or resistance fighters. But documents discovered in the archives of the United Nations War Crimes Commission state otherwise.
WIESENTHAL WELCOMES PANEL PROPOSAL
Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal said Monday that he welcomed the idea that a panel of historians would investigate Waldheim’s past but said it would have to be an international panel, not exclusively Austrian, if it was to have credibility.
Any conclusions the panel drew would have to be binding for both sides, said Wiesenthal, who previously said there appeared to be no concrete evidence to link Waldheim with war crimes. If Waldheim was shown to have been involved, he would have to resign, and if not, the United States would have to remove him from the so-called “Watch List” barring his entry as a private citizen, Wiesenthal said.