Waldheim, Kurt Josef.

Back to all people

- Medals

Waldheim, Kurt Josef, born 21-12-1918 in Sank Andra-Wordern, near Vienna, Austria, the son of a teacher. The family was of Czech descent. His father had changed the surname from Václavík to Waldheim. Kurt Waldheim attended gymnasium, completed his military service and then studied law. Waldheim served in the Austrian Army (1936–37) and attended the Vienna Consular Academy, where he graduated in 1939. Waldheim’s father was active in the Christian Social Party. Waldheim himself was politically unaffiliated during these years at the Academy. Shortly after the German annexation of Austria in 1938, a 20-year old Waldheim applied for membership in the National Socialist German Students’ League (NSDStB),  a division of the Nazi Party in Austria. Shortly thereafter he became a registered member of the mounted corps of the SA. In early 1941 Waldheim was drafted into the Wehrmacht and sent to the Eastern Front where he served as a squad leader. In December 1941 he was wounded  but later returned to service. His further service in the Wehrmacht from 1942 to 1945 was subject of the international dispute in 1985 and 1986. In 1945, Waldheim surrendered to British forces in Carinthia, at which point he said he had fled his command post within Army Group E, where he was serving with the Austrian Generaloberst, Alexander Löhr 380px-Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-2008-0915-500,_Alexander_Löhr  , who was seeking a special deal with the British. Alexander Löhr, one of three former Austrians  who rose the rank of Generaloberst, was executed, age 61, on 26-02-1947, for his role as the commander of the Luftwaffe units involved in the bombing of Belgrade in 1941. The Army Group E participated in anti-partisan operations in Greece and Yugoslavia. During the course of these operations, several atrocities were committed, including the massacres of Kalavryta and Distomo in Greece. In total, nearly 1200 (actual memorial in Kalvrita names every one) civilians were killed during the reprisals of Operation Kalavryta. Twenty-eight communities—towns, villages, monasteries and settlements—were destroyed. In Kalavryta itself about 1,000 houses were looted and burned, and more than 2,000 livestock seized by the Germans.  Furthermore, during the disarmament of the Italian army in September 1943, German troops executed over 5,000 Italian prisoners of war in the Cephallonia Massacre. At the same time, the Army Group successfully repelled the British attempt to seize the Italian-occupied Dodecanese Islands. In 1985, in his autobiography, Waldheim stated that he was discharged from further service at the front and for the rest of the war years finished his law degree at the University of Vienna in addition to marrying in 1944. Documents and witnesses which have since come to light reveal that Waldheim’s military service continued until 1945, and that he rose to the rank of Oberleutnant, and confirmed that he married in 1944 and graduated with a law degree from the University of Vienna in 1945. In 1945 Waldheim joined the Austrian diplomatic service and served as First Secretary of the Legation in France (1948-1951) and head of the personnel department of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (1951-55). This was followed by diplomatic posts in Canada (1956-60) and as head of the Political Department in the Austrian Ministry for Foreign Affairs (1960-62). In 1964 Waldheim became Austria’s permanent representative to the United Nations. He held this post for over four years and during this period served as chairman of the Committee of the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Waldheim returned to Austria in 1968 to take up the post of Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs. This was followed by the post as Chairman of the Safeguards Committee of the International Atomic Energy Agency. In 1972 Waldheim became Secretary-General of the United Nations . He held the post for nine years and during this period he made several visits in an attempt to bring an end to military and political conflict. This included South Africa, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Vietnam. Waldheim was elected as president of Austria in 1986. Soon after his victory it was revealled that during the World War II Waldheim was a Nazi intelligence officer who was involved in the transportation of Jews to concentration camps. This information was partly responsible for Waldheim being defeated in 1992. The US Justice Department published a report in 1994 confirmed that Waldheim had been involved in atrocities against Jews, civilians and Allied soldiers during the war.

Death and burial ground of Waldheim, Kurt Josef.

     Kurt Waldheim died at the age of 88, of heart failure on 14-06-2007 in Vienna and is buried on the Central cemetery in Vienna.


Share on :