Kurt Waldheim, the former U.N. chief with a Nazi past, died in Vienna at 88.Austrian media reported that Waldheim died of heart failure Thursday with family members at his bedside. He was hospitalized late last month with an infection. Waldheim served as secretary-general of the United Nations for a decade beginning in 1972, and was elected Austrian president in 1986. His political career was overshadowed by revelations that he had served in a unit of the Nazi armed forces that committed war crimes in the Balkans in the summer of 1942. The revelations led Washington to deny him entry to the United States. Waldheim maintained that he had not committed war crimes.The World Jewish Congress, which was central in exposing Waldheim’s past, objected to a personal meeting in February between Waldheim and current U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, saying it appeared inappropriate considering Waldheim is shunned by most of the diplomatic community. Austrian President Heinz Fischer issued a statement expressing his “deepest condolences,” and officials lowered the flag flying outside his office to half-staff.
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