VIENNA (Jul. 13)
Tuviah Friedman, director of the Nazi war crimes documentation center in Haifa, said in a radio interview Tuesday that charges against Kurt Waldheim are unfair, and that the World Jewish Congress should apologize to the Austrian president for linking him to Nazi atrocities.
“The World Jewish Congress made one of the most important Nazi murderers out of him and almost equated him with Eichmann, Globochik and Kaltenbrunner,” Friendman said.
“It is high time to apologize for these attacks, “he said.
Friedman, a historian who has defended Waldheim in the past, called on the Jewish community of Vienna to rally behind their president, whom he described as “an intellectual, a very decent man and everything but an anti-Semite.”
The Jewish community council here reacted angrily to Friedman’s remarks.
Edmund Reiss, the council’s deputy president, said, “He is only a private person. We, the Austrian Jews, have a different moral approach to this matter. We never accused Waldheim of war crimes.
“But not having committed war crimes is no qualification yet for the presidency here.”
Other Jewish community officials called Friedman’s ideas “unacceptable,” and accused him of seeking the limelight. The 24 council members voted unanimously to reject his arguments.
Friedman, the chief Nazi-hunter who captured Adolf Eichmann in 1960, arrived here Monday and met with Waldheim on Tuesday.
In the radio interview, Friedman reiterated his previous statements that he had checked every document available to him, and on the basis of the evidence had to consider Waldheim guiltless of crimes against Jews.
Friedman referred to the WJC as “a group of 50 officials” who have no right to decide about Jewish matters in Austria.