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Key Waldheim Document Missing; New Charge That He Saw Executions

February 7, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Austrian President Kurt Waldheim allegedly attended the execution to 104 Albanians by the Nazis 1944, according to new charges reported Friday in two Yugostav newspapers.

Meanwhile, a German historian researching Waldheim’s military record could not locate in Yugoslavia a document said to link Waldheim to deportations of Yugoslav civilians to labor and death camps.

While Waldheim’s office denied the new charges, the president conceded in an interview Friday with a Vienna daily that the document indicating he was aware of the deportations, which the German magazine Der Spiegel published last week, may be correct, although he does not remember anything.

The new charge comes from Hakif Bajrami, director of the archives in Kosovo, the southernmost province of Yugoslavia, with a predominantly Albanian population. According to Bajrami, Waldheim attended the execution while the Germans were retreating from the Balkans.

Bajrami said he had documents supporting his charges, but did not produce any. He also refused to cooperate with an international commission of historians convened by Austria to research Waldheim’s military past.

Last Thursday, the man who had supplied Der Spiegel with what he said was a copy of the document linking Waldheim to the deportation of more than 4,000 civilians from the Bosnian town of Kozara, among them Jews, said that he does not know where the original document is filed.

Historian commission member Walter Messerschmidt went to Yugoslavia last week to see the missing document. He urged the Yugoslav government via diplomatic mail Thursday to help find it. So far, no answer has been received.

Waldheim told the Austrian newspaper Kurier in an interview Friday that the document published in Der Spiegel may be valid.

“It has been so long, and frankly, I do not remember anything,” he said.

The president stressed that according to the documentation about his war service compiled in an official Austrian “white book,” he had only supply tasks in the army And, Waldheim added, in every war prisoners and refugees must be transported.

According to Yugoslav historians, more than 60,000 persons died after the German army literally emptied the area around Kozara in summer 1942, as an answer to partisan actions.

Those deported included mainly women, children and older people. Many were slaughtered in Croatian camps, where neck-slashing was common as a sport-like competition among Ustasha men. A smaller number was transported to German forced labor camps in Norway.

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