VIENNA (May. 19)
A leading Austrian news weekly reported Monday that President Kurt Waldheim blamed “a lobby on the East Coast of America” for influencing the U.S. Justice Department to bar him from entry into the United States.
According to the magazine, Profil, Waldheim made the charge, seen here as a veiled allusion to influential American Jews, in a speech he delivered recently to a small gathering of Austrian war veterans. Waldheim was placed on the Justice Department’s “Watch List” of inadmissable foreigners because of evidence of his complicity in Nazi atrocities in the Balkans during World War II.
After telling the veterans that he was denied due process by the Americans and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, the Austrian President was quoted in Profil as saying:
“There is a lobby on the East Coast of America which is monstrously brutal, reckless and has just one wish — to take revenge, revenge for my work as Secretary General of the United Nations, where I objectively and consequently made politics in the interest of the population of the whole world.
“These politics might not have been liked by certain gentlemen, like the lobby which initiated this action. They might feel satisfaction that they succeeded in applying force, immense pressure on the Administration. But the consequences will not be as they expected. They do not see that we are ready to take that challenge. They will be astonished.”
Waldheim may have been referring to his intention to file suit for libel in the U.S. According to Profil, the major political parties here are consulting informally about a non-partisan successor to replace Waldheim in the near future.
DIFFERENCES ON WHETHER WALDHEIM SHOULD RESIGN
Meanwhile, the Organization of Jewish University Students called Monday for Waldheim’s resignation. A spokesman for the group, Martin Engelberg, said Waldheim’s recent attempts to show he has no problems with Jews or his own past lacked credibility.
The Jewish students’ demand, however, was contrary to the position of the Austrian Jewish community whose president, Paul Grosz, said last week that Waldheim’s resignation was not wanted, nor would it be the right solution to the problem because it might create the impression that his downfall was brought about by the Jews.
WALDHEIM DENOUNCES NAZI REGIME
In a television address Saturday, Waldheim denounced the Nazi regime for its misdeeds and atrocities. He said the Austrian army had been absorbed into the German army in 1938 and “like hundreds of other Austrians,” he had been transferred from the Austrian army into the German forces, “not on my own free will.”
He added, “When we were forcibly pulled into the war by a regime we rejected, we could not yet see the horrible consequences of the Nazi regime. Too late we understood the historic tragedy with all its human cruelties. The misdeeds committed are not to be justified…”