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Waldheim and Austria's Past

May 06, 1986

Tyler Marshall's article (April 21), "Waldheim Issue Forces Austria to Face Its Past," contains some general and somewhat one-sided observations with regard to Austria's allegedly unresolved past.

In the interest of a more balanced picture I would like to draw your attention to the following:

That Austria, in 1938, was forcefully occupied and incorporated into the German "Reich" was not a myth created by the Austrians after the Second World War but a fact recognized by the Allies in the Moscow Declaration as early as Nov. 1, 1943, in which they stated: "Austria, the first country to fall victim to Hitlerite aggression, shall be liberated. They regard the annexation imposed on Austria as null and void." Evidently, Austria had no input into that unanimous assessment.

If many Austrians, for a variety of reasons, supported the Anschluss , many others were bitterly opposed to it. Joseph Goebbels' propaganda obviously tried to suggest that all Austrians were jubilant--apparently it had some measure of success.

The Austrian federal president, in his recent televised speech to the Austrian people, has appealed to the international media to report not only on any possible disappointments about attitudes in Austria but to also include the many positive developments in Austria's postwar history.

Learning their lesson from the nightmare of these years, Austrians have built a stable democracy, a thriving economy and good relations with all countries.

Austria has become a haven for literally hundreds of thousands of refugees and has served, incidentally as the only European country, as a way station for emigrating Russian Jews.

As our president pointed out, postwar Austria has been a good home for all of her citizens regardless of origin or creed.

NIKOLAUS SCHERK

Consul General of Austria

Los Angeles

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