Austria: Showdown with a Shadowy Past

The Waldheim controversy boils over as the election nears

Speaking before television cameras in Vienna's ornate Hofburg Palace, Austrian President Rudolf Kirchschläger was at pains to select his words carefully. His aim: to render a balanced judgment for his 7 million countrymen about accusations that Presidential Candidate Kurt Waldheim, the former United Nations Secretary-General, had knowingly falsified his World War II record and was involved in Nazi atrocities.

Kirchschläger, who was once a judge, had closeted himself for ten days with more than 500 pages of documents from the U.N., the Yugoslav government and the World Jewish Congress that detailed Waldheim's activities as a lieutenant in the German army from...

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