Kurt Waldheim

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Person.png Kurt Waldheim  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(lawyer, diplomat)
Kurt Waldheim 1971b.jpg
BornKurt Josef Waldheim
Sankt Andrä-Wördern, Austria
Died2007-06-14 (Age 88)
Vienna, Austria
Alma materVienna Consular Academy, University of Vienna
ReligionRoman Catholicism
SpouseElisabeth Waldheim
PartyAustrian People's Party
Austrian politician and diplomat. Waldheim was the fourth Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1972 to 1981, and President of Austria from 1986 to 1992, when he was victim of a Israeli smear campaign.

Employment.png President of Austria

In office
8 July 1986 - 8 July 1992
Succeeded byThomas Klestil

Employment.png Secretary-General of the United Nations

In office
1 January 1972 - 31 December 1981
Preceded byU Thant
Succeeded byJavier Pérez de Cuéllar

Employment.png Austria/Minister of Foreign Affairs

In office
19 January 1968 - 21 April 1970

Kurt Josef Waldheim was an Austrian politician and diplomat. Waldheim was the fourth Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1972 to 1981, and President of Austria from 1986 to 1992. While he was running for the latter office in the 1986 election, documents were discovered that showed his involvement in war crimes. A few years later, the Mossad whistleblower Victor Ostrovsky revealed how these documents had been falsified as part of an Israeli campaign to unseat him because he was perceived too close to the Arab side.

Diplomatic career

After finishing his studies in law at the University of Vienna Waldheim joined the Austrian diplomatic service in 1945. He was First Secretary of the Legation in Paris from 1948, and in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Vienna from 1951 to 1956. In 1956 he was made Ambassador to Canada, returning to the Ministry in 1960, after which he became the Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations in 1964. For two years beginning in 1968, he was the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs for the Austrian People's Party, before going back as Permanent Representative to the U.N. in 1970. Shortly afterwards, he ran and was defeated in the 1971 Austrian presidential elections.

Secretary-General of the United Nations

After losing the presidential election, Waldheim ran for Secretary-General of the United Nations in the 1971 selection, and succeeded U Thant in 1972.

As Secretary-General, Waldheim opened and addressed a number of major international conferences convened under United Nations auspices. These included the third session of the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (Santiago, April 1972), the U.N. Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm, June 1972), the third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea (Caracas, June 1974), the Third World Population Conference (Bucharest, August 1974) and the World Food Conference (Rome, November 1974), and the World Conference on Women, 1975 (Mexico City, June 1975). During the later, UN Resolution 3379, which considered Zionism as a form of racism and equated it with South African Apartheid, was approved by impulse of Arab countries, the Soviet bloc, and Non-Aligned Movement countries.[1] His diplomatic efforts particularly in the Middle East were overshadowed by the diplomacy of then U.S. Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger.[2]

Election and Waldheim Affair

Waldheim had unsuccessfully sought election as President of Austria in 1971, but his second attempt on 8 June 1986 proved successful. During his campaign for the presidency in 1985, what became known internationally as the "Waldheim affair" began. Before the presidential elections, investigative journalist Alfred Worm revealed in the Austrian weekly news magazine Profil that there had been several omissions about Waldheim's life between 1938 and 1945 in his recently published autobiography.[3]

Waldheim had previously claimed to have received a medical discharge after being wounded in winter 1942. His aides at the United Nations even accused the Israeli mission of spreading rumors that he supported the Nazis. Israeli ambassador Yehuda Zvi Blum denied the charges.[4]

A short time later, beginning on 4 March 1986, the World Jewish Congress alleged that Waldheim had lied about his service in the mounted corps of the SA and had concealed his service as a special missions staff officer (Ordonnanzoffizier) for Germany's Army Group E in Yugoslavia and Greece, from 1942 to 1944, based primarily on captured German wartime records held at the United States National Archives in Washington, DC, and in other archives.[5][6][7] The 23 March 1986 public disclosure by the World Jewish Congress that the organization had unearthed the fact that the United Nations War Crimes Commission concluded after the war that Waldheim was implicated in Nazi mass murder and should be arrested arguably transformed the Waldheim affair into the most sensational of all post-war Nazi scandals.[8]

Waldheim called the allegations, which grew in magnitude in the ensuing months, "pure lies and malicious acts".[9] Nevertheless, he admitted that he had known about German reprisals: "Yes, I knew. I was horrified. But what could I do? I had either to continue to serve or be executed."[9] He said that he had never fired a shot or even seen a partisan.[9] His former immediate superior at the time stated that Waldheim had "remained confined to a desk".[9] Former Austrian chancellor Bruno Kreisky, of Jewish origin, denounced the actions of the World Jewish Congress as an "extraordinary infamy",[9] adding that Austrians would not "allow the Jews abroad to ... tell us who should be our President".

Throughout his term as President (1986–1992), Waldheim was officially deemed persona non grata by the United States and, officially or informally, by nearly every other nation in the world outside the Arab world.[10]

Israeli smear campaign

Mossad whistleblower Victor Ostrovsky told how the operation against Waldheim was actually done: Waldheim had been critical of Israels activities in Southern Lebanon. As a result, Israel started a smear campaign, branding him a Nazi. The branding was done by a field unit that entered the UN building on Park Avenue South in New York and placed several incriminating documents that had been removed from other files into Waldheim' file - and the files of a few other individuals - for future use.The falsified documents were then "discovered" by Israel's ambassador to the UN, Benjamin Netanyahu.[11]

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