Kurt Waldheim, R.I.P.
June 14, 2007 2:56 PM   Subscribe

Good evening, Mr. Waldheim.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:22 PM on June 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

posted by psmealey at 3:23 PM on June 14, 2007


Are you serious? You a Waldheim fan? R.I.H., I say.
posted by languagehat at 3:24 PM on June 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

We may never know what he did or didn't do. I don't defend him. I do think his life story is interesting.
posted by taosbat at 3:30 PM on June 14, 2007

Well, he sort of made up for it (that Wehrmacht business I mean), and I think that sort of self-reform should be encouraged. So...

posted by MarshallPoe at 3:35 PM on June 14, 2007

A pretty sketchy and balanced remembrance on NPR this morning for Waldheim. For every positive thing about his life, there was also a reminder that he was, indeed, an unapologetic Nazi feigning ignorance of his party's atrocities.
Get ready for a flood of "yes, he's bad, but he's no Cheney."
posted by boo_radley at 3:43 PM on June 14, 2007

Pontiff, how are you?
posted by imperium at 3:45 PM on June 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

Yes, he's bad, but he's no Vonnegut.
posted by found missing at 4:03 PM on June 14, 2007

Yes, Cheney is bad, but he's no Waldheim.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:05 PM on June 14, 2007

I'm sure Howard will have some fun with this...
posted by zoogleplex at 4:22 PM on June 14, 2007

Good RIPpance.
posted by pruner at 4:24 PM on June 14, 2007

It is worth noting that Simon Wiesenthal the Nazi hunter defended him. From the wikipedia page on Waldheim:

I am not familiar with the new book by Eli Rosenbaum and William Hoffer, but friends who have read it tell me that it is filled with hate and consists almost entirely of an attack on me. ...
And now a Jew, Eli Rosenbaum, has written a book about me -- or rather against me. One wonders why this has appeared on the market just now -- seven years after the Waldheim affair. "The people from the World Jewish Congress, who were so committed to the Waldheim case, find it difficult to accept the results of the international commission of historians. This commission, which was formed at my instigation in Vienna, had come to the conclusion that Mr. Waldheim knew about the wartime crimes in the Balkans but that he was not personally involved in these. A similar judgment was pronounced by a committee that examined the documents about Mr. Waldheim on Thames Television in London. The committee included some of the most respected jurists; the former director of the Office of Special Investigations, Alan Ryan, functioned as prosecutor. This group, too, concluded that there is no 'case' against Mr. Waldheim.
As I said, I have not yet read the book by Messrs. Rosenbaum and Hoffer, but I can be sure already that the neo-Nazis and all the Holocaust deniers will be overjoyed by its attacks against me.

But for those of you who suspect Wiesenthal was really a Nazi sympathiser, hate away.

posted by sien at 4:26 PM on June 14, 2007

Oops. The above comment should point out that the quote is from Wiesenthal, not Waldheim.
posted by sien at 4:30 PM on June 14, 2007

Brand new day.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:33 PM on June 14, 2007

I don't think Waldheim was a Nazi sympathizer. I think he was an actual Nazi.

Good riddance, I say.
posted by cerebus19 at 4:40 PM on June 14, 2007

Oh, whoops. I misread what sien said. My statement stands, anyway.
posted by cerebus19 at 4:42 PM on June 14, 2007

Waldheim is possibly the first human voice that aliens will hear - he (and Jimmy Carter) recorded the greetings on the Voyager probe.

Combined with the TV signal from the 1936 Olympics, and Wernher von Braun, those darn Nazis (and "ex"-Nazis) did well at getting themselves into space.

When I heard that Waldheim had died, I was surprised that he was still alive.
posted by WPW at 4:53 PM on June 14, 2007

Well, he sort of made up for it (that Wehrmacht business I mean)

Uh, how exactly?

The man was an unrepentant shitbag and unremarkable politician. May he be quickly forgotten.
posted by mkultra at 4:54 PM on June 14, 2007

He's gone to be with his Leader. Sort of a personal Anschluss.
posted by orthogonality at 5:11 PM on June 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

Kurt Waldheim had tried to conceal his participation as a ranked official (lieutenant) in the Balkans (Thessaloniki to be specific).

It is interesting that this fact was already known worldwide at the time he became UN Secretary General:

A former Yugoslav intelligence official, Anton Kolendic, said he informed his Soviet counterparts “in late 1947 or 1948” that his government was seeking Mr. Waldheim on suspicion of involvement in war crimes. But the Russians did nothing. And according to a bipartisan letter from Congress sent to President Bill Clinton, the Central Intelligence Agency was aware of Mr. Waldheim’s wartime record years before he stood for election as secretary general but chose to conceal it.

With regards to whether he participated in the massacres and deportation of the Salonika Jews, again from the same NYT article:

“I never heard or learned anything of this while I was there,” Mr. Waldheim said in an interview with The New York Times in 1986. But according to Mr. Herzstein, the historian, Mr. Waldheim prepared numerous reports on the deportations for his army superiors, including General Löhr.

Also, despite his claims:

His wife, also a law student, was an ardent Nazi who before the war had renounced her Roman Catholic faith and joined the League of German Maidens, the female equivalent of the Hitler Youth. She applied for Nazi party membership as soon as she was old enough and was accepted in 1941.

I find your RIP offensive for FPP.
posted by carmina at 5:13 PM on June 14, 2007

Q: Did you hear about Waldheimer's Disease?
A: It makes you forget you're a Nazi!

Actually, I have an irrational soft spot for him. When I was living in Vienna as a child, he was running for Chancellor against Bruno Kreisky with the slogan (approx). "Den Mann wem die Welt kennt" (the man that the world knows). Our family knew nothing of the issues and had no dog in the fight but liked Waldheim chiefly for that. When he reappeared on the world scene much later, he was a familiar face from my childhood and a nice surprise.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:19 PM on June 14, 2007

But vee vehr jahst a zmall country. Vee vehr ze victims, too, you know. It vas ze Germans who vehr ze real Nazis, you understand. Ja.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:39 PM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:40 PM on June 14, 2007

Vee vehr ze victims, too, you know.

If by "victims", you mean "first to sign up", then yes.
posted by mkultra at 6:17 PM on June 14, 2007

I came in to say precisely what lh did. What a douchebag Waldheim was, what a douchebag anyone is who thinks unrepentant Nazis are "interesting."
posted by OmieWise at 7:00 PM on June 14, 2007


I'm not going to defend Kurt Waldheim, nor Günter Grass nor Hein Severloh. When I hear one of them or some other died, I say RIP.

I am a big fan of the nasty girl.
posted by taosbat at 7:05 PM on June 14, 2007

It is interesting to think about how "the best and brightest" could sell themselves to the machine of the moment. Look around and hope your own epitaph is so kind.
posted by taosbat at 7:11 PM on June 14, 2007

Guys like Waldheim and Grass are almost enough to make you respect the Nazis that admitted it and went to the gallows. Almost.
posted by tommasz at 7:18 PM on June 14, 2007

"My friends don't want me to mention Kurt's name, because of all the recent Nazi stuff and the U.N. controversy, but I love him and Maria does too, and so thank you. Kurt." according to the Warhol diary Jacki O. went pale when the toast was suggested by Arnold. I think Kurt and Arnold were big donors to Simon Wiesenthal .
posted by hortense at 7:45 PM on June 14, 2007

Pontiff, how are you?

Surfing Queequeg's Coffin, you?
posted by taosbat at 7:58 PM on June 14, 2007

Waldheim was never found guilty of anything! Neither was O.J. Simpson.
posted by chudmonkey at 8:01 PM on June 14, 2007

I lived in Austria during one year of Waldheim's presidency. Austria seemed to forgive him for being Nazi. After all, many people found themselves members of the Nazi party not by choice, but were either conscripted, or because it was the only available organization where they could apply their profession (many learned of Nazi attrocities only after the war). The real controversy, and what raised suspicions -- inside and outside of Austria -- was that he denied it. Obviously he was hiding something.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 8:54 PM on June 14, 2007

Surfing Queequeg's Coffin, you?

OK, now that I do not get. Were Kurt Waldheim's middle names Moby Dick?
posted by imperium at 3:12 AM on June 15, 2007

Are you saying you can see that Ratzinger and Waldheim have something in common yet you cannot see what that something might be?
posted by taosbat at 6:08 AM on June 15, 2007

When I was in 8th Grade, I had to take a mandatory quarter of shop; one of the elements was learning to use a printing press. We each had to team up with somebody and make a bunch of big, plain-text posters. A friend and I teamed up, and just felt like being shitheads; we knew that everyone was mad about somebody named Kurt Waldheim, but we didn't really understand why (I've hidden behind this excuse before, but, really, information didn't exactly flow freely to pre-internet rural Nebraska), and we thought his name was funny. So we made a gigantic banner that read:


When the banners got displayed, we got some funny looks from some of the faculty.
posted by COBRA! at 7:10 AM on June 15, 2007

taosbat: Thanks for the "nasty girl" link. Passau is a town I've actually been to a few times: there was a place I used to play during the years I was doing a lot of concert touring in Europe. Anyway, it is indeed a beautiful, picture-perfect little town, nestled in the hills, the Danube flowing through: incredibly picturesque. But I also learned on one of my visits there that Passau is the scene of a yearly meeting of various neo-Nazi groups, like a big convention or something, and that knowledge cast a shadow over the place for me ever since. Fortunately none of these conventions were underway during any of my own visits to the town. I can only imagine how scary and creepy that must be. Yech.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:18 PM on June 15, 2007

If by "victims", you mean "first to sign up", then yes.

Yup, that's exactly what I meant.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:20 PM on June 15, 2007

I'm glad some small good came of this thread, flapjax at midnite. I had hoped for more but I'll take it. I became a fan when I saw the movie.
posted by taosbat at 8:47 PM on June 15, 2007

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