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Documents Published in Zurich Suggest Waldheim Knew of Deportations by 1942

Photographs of documents showing that Austrian President Kurt Waldheim had to be aware of the deportation of Jews to Nazi concentration camps as early as 1942 were published Sunday in the Zurich newspaper Sonntages-Zeitung.

The documents, which come from the Yugoslavian war archives, also link Waldheim directly with orders to execute Yugoslavian partisan fighters in Banja Luca village in 1942.

In the same edition of the newspaper, Manfred Messerschmitt charges that these documents were suppressed when an international committee of historians named by the Austrian government published the results last January of its yearlong investigation of Waldheim’s wartime activities.

Messerschmitt was a West German member of the panel, which was headed by Swiss military historian Hans-Rudolph Kurz.

The report was submitted to the Austrian government. Only extracts were released to the public.

Messerschmitt, in an interview in the Swiss newspaper, deplored the fact that the Vienna government has failed so far to publish the full report.

“We were promised by the government that all our protocols will be made public. We worked hard for our findings, and now it is just put away in a drawer. It is a scandal.” he said.

Messerschmitt said the commission intends to publish the full report on its own if the Austrian government fails to do so.

The report, made public nearly six months ago, does not exonerate Waldheim’s conduct. But it found no evidence that he was directly involved in deportations, executions and atrocities committed by the Wehrmacht unit he served in as an intelligence officer.

The report found, however, that Waldheim must have had knowledge of these occurrences. It criticized him for taking no steps to stop them or even protest.

DOCUMENT REPORTS EXECUTIONS

One photograph published here Sunday is of a document dated Aug. 11, 1942. It comes from the Third Croatian Mountain Brigade, Nazi collaborators who were fighting alongside the German army against Yugoslavian partisans.

The report was addressed to the Croatian police Luca, a village of about 200, and referred to various events, including the execution of seven partisans on Aug. 6, 1942, in Prijedor, by Croatian soldiers and German police.

The police got their orders from Section 1B of the Wehrmacht. Waldheim represented its general headquarters.

Another document refers to 58 Jews of Austro-Hungarian origin who sought refuge in Yugoslavia, hid in Banja Luca and were sent to the concentration camp in Jasenovac, where tens of thousands of Yugoslav Jews were murdered.

On July 31, 1942, the Banja Luca police reported the transfer of 160 Jews to the Strau Gradosku concentration camp.

Messerschmitt observed that Banja Luca was such a small place that it was impossible Waldheim had no knowledge of these deportations.

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