June 15, 2007 – The Telegraph
Kurt Waldheim … was Secretary-General of the United Nations for 10 years; later he was elected President of Austria, even though details of his wartime participation in the barbarous Nazi occupation of the Balkans emerged during his campaign.
In the process Waldheim became the best-known Austrian politician since Adolf Hitler, and his election and subsequent period of office precipitated Austria’s most serious moral and political crisis since 1945.
Despite the fact that he wrote an autobiography, Waldheim’s life before he entered the Austrian foreign ministry in 1945 remains difficult to reconstruct, not least because of his own dissembling.
What actually took place after 1941 was first reliably reconstructed in the report of the Historians’ Commission appointed by the Austrian government to investigate his past.
Kurt Josef Waldheim was born on December 21 1918 at Tulln, near Vienna. Shortly before his birth the Habsburg monarchy had collapsed, and his father, whose Czech family had been called Watzlawick, decided to change his name.
Kurt’s father, the district school inspector, educated his son to be Roman Catholic, conservative and loyal to the precarious but authoritarian First Republic. After the Anschluss with Nazi Germany in March 1938, however, he lost his job.
The young Waldheim read Law at Vienna University and attended the Consular Academy for future diplomats. In 1938 he joined the Nazi student association and a Brownshirt riding club, the SA-Reiterstandarte 5/90.