WASHINGTON (Jun. 4)
Backed by two members of the House of Representatives, some 40 Jewish students from across the country assembled outside the Justice Department Wednesday to “blow the whistle” on Austrian Presidential candidate Kurt Waldheim.
In a demonstration planned tentatively a month ago by the North American Jewish Students Network, Reps. Stephen Solarz (D. NY) and Charles Schumer (D. NY) joined the protestors in accusing Attorney General Edwin Meese of footdragging in its investigation of Waldheim’s war-time activities. The former United Nations Secretary General is regarded as a frontrunner in a run-off election on June 8 for the Austrian presidency.
“The time has come to blow the whistle on Kurt Waldheim,” declared Ayall Schanzer, a University of Maryland student and Network’s National chairman here. Responding to the cue, the students drew their pocket whistles and shrieked away at the walls of the Justice Department.
ENLARGED PHOTO AT DEMONSTRATION
Behind them stood an enlarged copy of a recently-discovered 1943 photograph in which Waldheim is shown standing with Nazi officers at an airstrip in Podgorica, Yugoslavia, now known as Titograd.
Waldheim had long maintained that his war-time activities had ended in 1941, after he was wounded on the Eastern Front. Numerous revelations, primarily by the World Jewish Congress, have since been made which suggest he may have had a significant role in the massacres of Yugoslav partisans and possibly in the deportations of Jews from Salonika.
The Justice Department inquiry was undertaken following a recommendation by Neal Sher, head of the Department’s Office of Special Investigations, that the former Secretary General be placed on the “watch list” of individuals barred from entering the United States because of his role in the Wehrmacht.
The recommendation followed the discovery that Waldheim had been branded a war criminal by the United Nations War Crimes Commission and was wanted by the Yugoslav government following the war.
NO DECISION UNTIL AFTER JUNE 8
But the Justice Department has indicated that it probably would not reach a decision on Sher’s recommendation until after the Austrian elections. “The argument has been made that if the Attorney General makes a decision in the next few days, before the Austrian Presidential election, it would be interpreted as an effort on the part of the United States to influence the outcome of that election and would therefore be an interference in the internal affairs of Austria,” Solarz observed.
Schumer called the delay in reaching a decision “frightening.” Noting that Sher’s recommendation was made three weeks ago he lambasted the Justice Department for the “delay, excuse and special treatment” that he maintained has characterized the inquiry on Waldheim.
Solarz also observed that “in the history of the Department of Justice, never before has a recommendation by the Office of Special Investigations… not been upheld by the Attorney General, and never before in the history of the Justice Department has it taken so long for the attorney general to make a decision as it has taken Mr. Meese in this case.”
“Let me suggest that it would be just as much an interference in the internal affairs of Austria if the Attorney General should postpone making a decision as it would be for him to make it,” he declared.