History: Kurt Waldheim, From the Nazi Student Federation to UN Secretary General and President of Austria


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In 1987 the US Justice Department declared Kurt Waldheim a dangerous agent; forever forbidding his re-entry onto US soil.

The aristocratic poseur, Waldheim, was the grandson of a Czech blacksmith surnamed Vaclavik. Kurt’s father, Walter, migrated to Austria where Christian-Social Party (CSP) activism landed him the plum-gig of school inspector. CSP-founder and Vienna Mayor, Karl Lueger, pioneered electoral anti-Semitism; blaming “Jewish financiers” for every problem.

Hitler “learned anti-Semitism from Lueger.” (1) After Walter’s CSP superior explained the limitations of “Vaclavik,” Walter choose the uber-German: Waldheim (“woods-home”). (2) When Kurt turned 18, Walter planted him in the 1st Dragoons of Stockerau – a regiment stocked with scions of ancient noble houses. (3)

In 1933 Chancellor Dollfuss transformed CSP into the Fatherland Front. Militias swarmed Austria. In 1934 a Corporate State, blessed by Archbishop Innitzer, suspended parliament and banned opposition parties. Among the banned were pan-German Austro-Nazis who retained support, especially on campuses where they distributed German-printed magazines. Austrian clerico-fascists opposed pan-Germanism out of hostility toward Protestantism. Nazis assassinated Dollfuss, July 1934.

In 1938 Hitler demanded Austria lift employment bans on Nazis. Fatherland Front responded with a huge rally. Nazis counter-demoed and held larger rallies days later celebrating the release of imprisoned compatriots.

Meanwhile, Waldheim attended Boltzmangasse Consular Academy and University of Vienna’s Law College. He met his bride on campus. Like her father, she forsook Catholicism in obedience to Hitler. (4)

In March 1938 Hitler annexed Austria. 250,000 packed Heldenplatz to hear him. 500,000 lined Ringstrasse to catch a glimpse. Innitzer promised support. By mid-July, 30,000 Austrians were political prisoners.

Walter was detained for CSP activities, then forced to retire. Gestapo visited Waldheim’s home; as did Storm Troopers (SA) who painted “priest-lover” on its walls. Kurt joined the Nazi Student Federation, and the Vienna SA with whom he trashed 43 of Vienna’s 44 synagogues on Kristallnacht. (5)

In 1938 the Army drafted Waldheim straight into commando training before dispatching him to Sudetenland. In November he returned to Vienna; resuming SA activism. In 1939 he joined the 45th Infantry with whom he occupied France.

In late-1941 the 45th aided an assault on Moscow. Waldheim witnessed civilian clearances. Bravery at Brest-Litovsk yielded promotions, three medals (including an Iron Cross), and praise from (later-hanged) General von Pannwitz. (6) A thigh-wound returned Waldheim to Austria in December. (7)

In March 1942 Waldheim signed-up with the 12th Army in Yugoslavia. (8) On March 19, the 12th decreed:

“The most minor case of rebellion, resistance or concealment of arms must be treated immediately by the strongest deterrent methods… It is better to liquidate 50 suspects than have one soldier killed.” (9)

During one operation, wherein Staff Officer Waldheim won citations, ratios were:

“100 Serbs to be executed for every German killed, 50 Serbs for every German wounded.” (10)

In May, Waldheim entered Kozara – a contested railway and mining area – with Battle Group West. By September, amidst rape and robbery, 4,735 suspected insurgents had been executed and 70,000 civilians shipped to camps. (11) Waldheim managed casualty stats and detainee transport. His name appears on a “list of honour” parchment commemorating distinguished service in Kozara. (12)

In November 1942 Waldheim received leave to complete his doctorate. (13) His thesis, The Concept of Reich according to Konstantin Frantz, re-purposes Catholicism’s purple prose about “the body of Christ” by replacing that phrase with “the Third Reich.” (14)

Returning to Yugoslavia, March 1943, Waldheim served as Senior Staff Officer for General Loehr’s village-erasing Operation Schwarz, which killed 16,000 in May, mostly in blind reprisals. (15)

The Army then made Waldheim liaison to General Vecchiarelli, head of Italy’s army in Greece; entrusting Waldheim with all intel on Greek operations. (16) German Generals wanted all men in turbulent eastern Greece detained. Vecchiarelli wouldn’t sign-off. On August 7, Waldheim recommended deporting male civilians to slave-camps. On August 20, he received orders approving his recommendation and expeditiously forwarded them. (17)

After Italy’s September 1943 surrender Waldheim proposed enslaving Vecchiarelli’s 158,000 troops; specifying the number of trains needed. He claimed Italians aided the resistance – based on personal “interrogations.”

Operation Case Axis conned Vecchiarelli into handing over his heavy weapons on the promise his troops could keep their rifles and go home. Germans surreptitiously snatched rifles as they herded Italians onto trains. When trains left stations, Italians were fully disarmed. After one rebellion 4,000 Italians were machine-gunned. (18)

In December 1943 Waldheim became Oberleutnant-3 (O3) for the 300,000-troop Army Group E. The Wehrmacht’s best-informed men, O3s were in charge of office staff, maps and files. O3s updated higher and adjacent formations through daily reports and special briefings. O3s initialed each report. A December 19, 1943 report bearing Waldheim’s “W” recounts:

  • burning a monastery, shooting 13 monks;
  • leveling a village, shooting 82 inhabitants (half under the age of 15);
  • placing 128 people from Sparta, including all school-teachers, before a firing squad. (19)

In August 11, 1944, Waldheim reported on an area of Crete where 2 days later 2 villages were razed and 20 suspects shot. On August 15 he reported “mopping-up” nearby areas where no resistance had been met. Twelve officers were convicted of war crimes related to these operations. (20)

With Germans withdrawing from Yugoslavia, October 1944, Waldheim feared partisans along the escape route. On October 13, he conducted aerial surveillance over 3 villages. On October 14, German soldiers torched these villages; executing 114 inhabitants. The later-hanged Captain in charge testified that he was following orders recommended and elaborated by Oberleutnant-3 Waldheim. The overall operation resulted in 739 suspects shot, 13 rifles recovered. (21)

Waldheim watched General Loehr surrender to Yugoslav partisans in May 1945. Loehr broke his word; bolting to the British to re-surrender. They returned him, to be executed. Waldheim surfaced in an American P.O.W. camp where:

“…the deal was struck which allowed the young Oberleutnant to begin a new life. In exchange for information (and he had plenty to offer!), he was authorized to return to Vienna and act as though nothing had happened since 1942.” (22)

In 1947 Yugoslavia presented Waldheim’s file to a London-based, British-chaired UN War Crimes Commission which typically rejected 75% of Yugoslav requests. Commissioners quickly approved prosecuting Waldheim for “putting hostages to death and murder.” They heard from 10 British and US veterans who witnessed Waldheim in P.O.W. camps. One remembered the “swine Waldheim” overseeing the tossing of British soldiers’ corpses from the back of a truck like “sacks of manure.” US officials presented 19 “interrogation” reports signed by Waldheim. (23)

Yugoslavia presented 244 Wehrmacht documents connecting Waldheim to crimes, plus testimony from 3 German officers confirming Waldheim’s job was: “to offer suggestions for reprisals, the fate of prisoners of war and imprisoned civilians.” Accusations centered on the razing of 13 villages, and massacres in several more, for which: “orders were planned in detail with the cooperation of the (intelligence) unit at the army corps headquarters, and in particular with the collaboration of Lieutenant Waldheim.” (24)

Dissolving the War Crimes Commission in 1948 suspended 36,000 prosecutions.

Austrian de-Nazification confronted 500,000 Austro-Nazis. Early de-Nazification involved dismissals, internments even death sentences. By mid-1946 committees generally white-washed suspects. Parties authorized to award de-Nazification certificates, bartered. Waldheim secured certificates from the Socialist and People’s parties. Inquiries into Kurt’s past ceased November 1945 when Foreign Affairs hired him. His War Crimes’ file read “whereabouts unknown.” His work address was public record. (25) Amnesty took effect, 1948.

Waldheim led Austria’s inaugural UN delegation in 1955. He also served as Ambassador to Czechoslovakia and Foreign Minister before unsuccessfully running for President. In 1971, Waldheim became the first person to campaign for the UN Secretary-Generalship. Soviets and Americans vetoed each other’s candidates. Britain abstained. Waldheim’s dark-horse victory had Le Monde wondering whether:

“…Waldheim might have been involved in the enigmatic Nazi International which at the fall of the Third Reich, had ordered its members to infiltrate the machinery of the state and occupy important positions while awaiting better days.” (26)


Secretary-General Waldheim stamped his tenure with an “insistence on unconditional loyalty to a personality whose requirements were equated with those of the UN.” (27) As UN’s Head of Protocol Waldheim’s daughter populated the Secretariat with a camarilla “whose oracular pronouncements connoted absolute knowledge.” (28)

Waldheim “loved the red carpet, the salvos salutes.” He loved flying his favourite toilet paper round the world by diplomatic pouch. A labor lawyer, hired by UN staff, likened Waldheim’s Secretariat to “the court of King Henry VIII.” (29)

Previous S-Gs lived humbly on their own dime. Waldheim crashed into No. 3 Sutton Place; cluttering it with Louis XV sofas, Saxe porcelain and English lace. A philanthropist covered the rent. The UN bought furnishings. Museums donated paintings. Waldheim shipped an antique clock gifted by Mexico to his Austrian address – at UN expense. He shipped gems from the Shah into his pocket. (30)

Waldheim initiated:

  • a spike in UN executive salaries;
  • ex gratia payments, amounting on occasion to several hundred thousand dollars;and,
  • “the corrupt sale of certain profitable posts.” (31)

Charter be-damned, Waldheim let nations top-up “their” UN officials’ salaries. By 1981 scores of UN officials earned more than the US President. Unsurprisingly, despite the: “operational and administrative chaos into which the organization would sink under Waldheim…(in) higher levels of the UN Secretariat he had more defenders that critics.” (32)

Some found Waldheim “a scheming, ambitious, duplicitous egomaniac ready to do anything for advantage or public acclaim.” Others found him: “dull”, “conceited” and “unimaginative.” Astute observers saw:

  • “an unexceptional but well-trained valet”
  • “an obsequious vacuous neuter”
  • “a creepy maitre’d.” (33)

Waldheim couldn’t stand the sight of a short German:

“Even when he was Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, he wanted at all costs to restrict entry into the diplomatic corps to very tall people.” (34)

If Waldheim learned an employee had tickets to an evening event; that employee worked late. As well,

“There’s not a waiter in a New York cafe who ever saw him leave a penny as a tip.” (35)


One scholar believes:

“Waldheim was a US intelligence asset who expected to be – and always was – protected by his friends in the American intelligence community.” (36)

Others thought he was KGB, considering:

  • As Foreign Minister he slammed the door on Czechs fleeing the 1968 invasion. (37)
  • As S-G he wouldn’t appeal to North Vietnam on behalf of refugees; the International Herald Tribune reporting:

“Waldheim said he had no intention of resigning because of criticism directed against him. ‘The criticism comes from the West exclusively’ he said ‘From no other part of the world. On the contrary, the rest of the world seems satisfied.” (38)

  • He condemned Israel’s 1976 Entebbe rescue op as “a serious violation of the national sovereignty of a United Nations member state.” (39)
  • He did nothing for Alicja Wesolowska and 20 other imprisoned UN workers. Poland sentenced Wesolowska to 7-years for work she did on UN assignment. Waldheim wouldn’t impose “Western standards” onto Poland. (40)
  • He banned Gulag Archipelago from bookstores on UN premises. (41)

Moreover, Waldheim marginalized Anglos within the UN.

In the sixties, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) debated micro-state membership. The USA thought it impractical and undemocratic to give tiny islands equal status with qualitatively larger countries. They unsuccessfully proposed admitting micro-states as “associate members.”

In the seventies, Waldheim welcomed: Vanuatu, Cape Verde, Comoros, Djibouti, Dominica, Fiji, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Sao Tome-Principe, Seychelles, Bahamas, Suriname, Saint Vincent, Antigua, Belize and a dozen more. He cast aside merit-based hiring in favour of geographical considerations; and based the number of senior positions given to a country on the support that country gave him. One Western Ambassador described life under Waldheim as:

“You try to get as many posts as possible for your own nationals. This is wrong, but everyone does it.” (42)

After the Human Rights Commission quit New York for Geneva, campaigns against Israel, Rhodesia and South Africa conjured an anti-Anglosphere, European-led, micro-state cargo-cult within the UN.

The UN’s emergence as a global ecofascist command centre overlaps Waldheim’s tenure (1972-81); albeit imperfectly. Change became him.

The 1965 World Population Conference explicitly connected overpopulation to foreign aid whilst prepping the 1967 launch of the crypto-eugenicist, UN Trust Fund for Population Activities.

In 1968:

  • UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) urged action to stop the: “accelerating impairment of the quality of the human environment caused by such factors as air and water pollution, erosion, and other forms of soil deterioration, secondary effects of biocides, waste and noise.” (43)
  • UNESCO held a conference titled: Scientific Basis for the Rational Use and Conservation of the Resources of the Biosphere.
  • UNGA declared: “the relationship between man and his environment was undergoing profound changes” (44) and endorsed the global environmentalist mega-conference – Stockholm, 1972.

Waldheim chaired said Stockholm Conference. The 900-word Stockholm Declaration repeats “environment” 24 times on top of references to “biosphere,” “Earth,” “planet” and “surroundings.” It calls for a global program of enviro-education and enviro-activism. Within months United Nations Environment Programme appeared. (Waldheim wanted UNEP’s HQ in Geneva and was miffed by the choice of Nairobi.)

Also, under Waldheim’s watch:

  • UNESCO initiated “Man and the Environment” and “Man and the Biosphere” programs.
  • ECOSOC held the first official UN population conference. Thoroughly conflating overpopulation with environmental destruction, participants concocted a rebranded UN Population Fund leading a recharged fertility-suppression drive.
  • UNESCO-UNEP’s Tbilisi Declaration pronounced a “environmental education” crusade.

Waldheim’s Secretariat was “dense with irreproachable statements on global peril.” (45) His Under-Secretary quipped: “the worst way to make an argument is by reason and good information. You must appeal to emotions and to their fears of being made to appear ridiculous.” (46)

Waldheim helped initiate the “ozone-hole” campaign.

  • 1976: UNEP focusses on the ozone layer.
  • 1977: a newly-minted, UN-led, Coordinating Committee on the Ozone Layer prompts World Meteorological Organization (WMO) into monitoring ozone.
  • 1981: UNEP announces plans for a global convention on ozone-hole prevention.

Waldheim played a crucial role in launching “climate change.”

  • 1978: Waldheim opens the UNGA with:

“Nations will have to change from a pattern of energy consumption dominated by oil to a more energy saving pattern of growth, relying on more diversified sources of energy… considerable efforts will be needed to harmonize the interests of producers, processors, users, poorer consumers and environmentalists… we must find ways to ensure sustainable supplies of energy… We need to deal vigorously with the area of energy, which is a major challenge, and to launch a coordinated and imaginative effort by the world community in this field. I stand ready to lend all necessary assistance.” (47)

  • 1979: UNEP, WMO and the (UN-integrated) International Council of Scientific Unions, hold a World Climate Conference.
  • 1980: a follow-up conference, focussing on CO2, calls for a UN climate agency.


Image: Waldheim (2nd from left), SS General Artur Phleps (with briefcase), and others at Podgorica airfield in Montenegro during Case Black, 22 May 1943. This photograph caused much controversy when it was published while Waldheim was running in the 1986 Austrian presidential election. (Licensed under Fair Use)

an Italian officer and three German officers in uniform standing beneath the wing of an aircraft on a grassed airfield

In 1986, Waldheim ran for the Austrian presidency. Nominally independent, support came from the CSP-sequel, and “environmentally sensitive,” People’s Party. Ads depicted Waldheim and wife in heritage costume amidst Alpine idyll. Waldheim self-described as a persecuted anti-Nazi drafted in 1938, wounded in 1941; who studied for the duration of WWII. So reads his autobiography and numerous interviews. As late as February 1986 he denied being in Nazi groups or serving in Yugoslavia. (48)

On March 4, 1986, the New York Times exposed Waldheim. Asked why such allegations appeared across the world press, Waldheim replied: “the international press is dominated by the World Jewish Congress. It’s well known.” (49) Austrian media endorsed this theory, while a top daily editorialized:

“…former National Socialists…consider themselves to have been sufficiently punished and no longer see any reason why they should cover themselves in sackcloth and ashes.” (50)

On the stump Waldheim bellowed, to hysterical applause, that New Yorkers with names like “Steinberg and Rosenbaum” will never “tell the Austrian people how to vote.” (51) Kurt took 54% of the vote.


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  1. Cohen, Bernhard; Rosenzweig Luc; Waldheim; Adama Books, New York, 1987, page 31.
  2. Ibid, 23.
  3. Herzstein, Robert; Waldheim, The Missing Years; Arbor House/William Morrow; New York; 1988 page 57; see also Cohen 55.
  4. Cohen 47-8
  5. Herzstein 52-7; see also Cohen 33-47
  6. Ibid 62-5
  7. Ibid 65
  8. Ibid 66
  9. Cohen 60
  10. Ibid 60-1
  11. Ibid 60-1
  12. Herzstein 75; see also Cohen 60-2
  13. Cohen 62
  14. Ibid 49-51
  15. Herzstein 92 see also Cohen 66
  16. Cohen 66 see also Herzstein 92
  17. Herzstein 95-7 see also Cohen 66
  18. Herzstein 100-1
  19. Cohen 70-5
  20. Ibid 82-4
  21. Ibid 83-8
  22. Ibid 90
  23. Ibid 79-80 and 95
  24. Ibid 85-90
  25. Ibid 90-7
  26. Ibid 115
  27. Hazzard, Shirley; Countenance of Truth: The United Nations and the Waldheim Case; Viking Penguin; New York; 1990, page 46.
  28. Ibid 65 and 123
  29. Ibid 109
  30. Cohen 135-7
  31. Hazzard 51
  32. Ibid 65 and 123
  33. Ibid 127
  34. Cohen 130-1
  35. Ibid 131
  36. Herzstein 257
  37. Hazard 91 see also Cohen 119
  38. Ibid 34 and 91
  39. Ibid 91 see also Cohen 126
  40. Ibid 111
  41. Ibid 90
  42. Ibid 27-8 and 130
  43. Osmancyzk, Edmund; Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Agreements; Routledge, New York, 2003, page 637.
  44. Yearbook of the United Nations; fiftieth anniversary edition; Martinus Nijhoff Publishers; The Hague; 1995, page 256.
  45. Hazzard 78
  46. Ibid 97
  47. Waldheim, Kurt; The Challenge of Peace; Rawson, Wade Publishers, Inc. New York, 1980, pages 138-9.
  48. Cohen 55-6
  49. Ibid 32
  50. Ibid 105
  51. Ibid 148

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