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British Order Probe of Possible Waldheim Link to Lost Commandos

May 17, 1986|From Times Wire Services

LONDON — The British government has ordered an examination of military records to determine if Kurt Waldheim was involved in the disappearance of captured British commandos during World War II, and aides of the former U.N. secretary general said Friday that they welcome the investigation.

Waldheim was accused in a House of Commons motion Thursday of involvement in the disappearances of an unspecified number of Britons while he served with the German army in the Balkans.

The motion, signed by 45 legislators, alleged a link between Waldheim and the deaths of British commandos taken prisoner. Without giving any details, it said Waldheim allegedly was in charge of interrogating the Britons.

In Austria, Waldheim told reporters: "I haven't seen those reports, but I only heard over the radio that some members of (the British) Parliament have raised the question.

"I can only tell you that I was in no way involved in this affair, and therefore I see no reason why I should comment any further."

Jewish Group's Accusations

Waldheim has been accused by the New York-based World Jewish Congress of hiding a Nazi past and of having knowledge about Nazi war crimes. He has repeatedly denied the allegations.

The charges came to light during the campaign before the first round of the election for the largely ceremonial post of Austrian president on May 4. Waldheim narrowly missed an overall majority then but is favored in the second round June 8.

Alf Morris of the opposition Labor Party, one of the legislators who signed the Commons motion, asked Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in a written question why her government was "unwilling to seek from the United Nations copies of all documents in their possession" relating to Waldheim's wartime activities.

She told Morris that no request had been made to date because there had appeared to be no direct British interest.

But she added: "In view of recent new allegations about the disappearance of British subjects in the Balkans . . . the Ministry of Defense are searching (British) military records to see whether they contain any information relevant in this context."

No details on the number of disappeared commandos have been given.

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