Thursday, June 14, 2007

Obituary: Kurt Waldheim 1918-2007

We learned earlier today that Kurt Waldheim died. Best known as UN Secretary General for eleven years starting from 1971, Herr Waldheim later was elected President of Austria. But for most of the latter part of his life, he was dogged by some very serious allegations -- namely, he was part of a Nazi army unit that sent thousands of Greeks and Yugoslavs to their deaths. Waldheim was forced to concede he was in active duty when his official biography had indicated he was medically discharged -- but the damage was done.

Did he or didn't he? Thousands of men and women served in the Nazi armed services but that did not make every single one complicit in the Holocaust. There were war criminals who were prosecuted and there are quite a few still at large for the atrocities commited sixty years ago. But to suggest everyone who speaks German should be deported would be the wrong kind of retribution.

If he didn't commit any war crimes then he should have been left alone and suffered a grievous wrong. On the other hand, he was far less than honest about his war record and in that sense he did deserve to be censured. We may never know the whole story now ... and that leaves the families of the victims he allegedly killed with even more questions.

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1 comment:

C-Nuck said...

Kurt Waldheim was a blemish on the United Nations.

He should have but never faced the justice that was due him as a Nazi officer.