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Waldheim and Austria's Past

May 16, 1986

This is in answer to the letter (May 6) from Nikolaus Scherk, consul general of Austria in Los Angeles .

Scherk states that Austria was forcefully occupied by Hitler in 1938. I was there, Mr. Scherk, and all I remember was a victory parade. Not even "token resistance" was made to the oncoming Germans; they were welcomed with open arms. Most of them wore buttons to show how early they had been Nazis. I was born in Vienna and I was 17 years old when this happened and remember only too well the pure hatred spewed out against the Jews.

Austrians didn't have to learn from Hitler how to treat the Jews; they knew only too well. In my opinion and many others who were there, they were worse than the Germans.

It was the S.A. the "Brown Shirts" who made prominent people scrub the sidewalks, while others stood around and cheered and jeered. The S.A. was a voluntary organization that beat up people, smashed shop windows, vandalized Jews' homes and terrorized even children.

Austria never paid one cent in restitution, as Germany did, to the unfortunate survivors, few as they were; never admitted any guilt in rounding up Jews and sending them in cattle cars to Poland to be exterminated. My entire family, mother, father, brothers, aunts, uncles, all disappeared.

Don't tell us, who lived through those days, that Austria was a victim. It is very unfortunate that the Allies never made Austria own up to its war crimes.

It wouldn't surprise me one bit if Kurt Waldheim is elected. I said from the beginning, his Nazi past will serve him well with the Austrians, and will be in his favor.

RITA CHILDS

Santa Monica

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