VIENNA (Nov. 24)
Kurt Waldheim, as an intelligence officer in the German army in the Balkans during World War II, sat in on the planning meetings held by his commanding general, Alexander Loehr, and therefore must have known about atrocities against civilians and the deportation of Greek Jews.
That is the conclusion reached by Swiss journalist Hans Peter Born in his just published book “Fuer Die Richtigkeit — Kurt Waldheim” (Getting It Straight — Kurt Waldheim), named for the sign-off Waldheim used to indicate he had proofread and checked documents. The book drew a strong protest Monday from the office of Waldheim, now president of Austria.
Loehr was hanged as a war criminal in 1947 for atrocities committed against Yugoslavian civilians and partisans. According to Born, Loehr did not make his decisions behind closed doors. A large circle of his officers, Waldheim among them, would be present. Sometimes certain actions were protested and were not carried out. But in all of his research, Born could find no protest emanating from Waldheim.
Born, an editor of the Swiss weekly Weltwoshe, said he could not accept Waldheim’s claim that his job was simply to forward decisions made by other officers. He concluded that Waldheim knew about the deportations of Jews, especially from the Greek islands of Rhodes and Corfu, which were arranged and coordinated by his unit.
Born said that while it is hard to prove the direct involvement of Waldheim in the deportations, a moral co-responsibility should be assumed. He said Waldheim participated personally in the interrogation of captured Allied commandos.
The book is expected to heat up the debate over Waldheim’s Nazi past, which is currently under investigation by an international commission of military historians funded by the Austrian government.
The panel is expected to submit its preliminary report some time this winter and some of Waldheim’s supporters are said to be increasingly nervous over its possible contents. The World Jewish Congress has dismissed the commission as a “whitewash.”
Meanwhile, Waldheim’s secretary issued a news release Monday responding to Born’s book. It repeats the denial that Waldheim was ever in any way involved in the deportation of Jews, that he was an influential consultant to Loehr or that he interrogated prisoners of war.