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Tag: Kurt Waldheim

Austria And The Waldheim Affair

The Waldheim affair has thrown an unwelcome light on Austria’s attitude to the past, a curious mixture of oblivion and impenitence. We have all been fascinated by President Waldheim’s amnesia about his war service, and by the reaction in Austria. There were the polls that supported Waldheim, the deputy mayor of Linz who complained about the “gentlemen from Jerusalem,” the former foreign minister who observed that the historians on the commission investigating Waldheim’s record “weren’t exactly his friends, after all,” the conservative leader in the pretty western province of Vorarlberg who told the Jews to remember what had happened to them once before this century.

What sort of country is this? Evidently not the Austria of the tourism industry’s imagination, Alps and Mozart and waltzes and Sacher torte. Nor is it quite like its larger neighbor. The real contrast is