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France Releases Waldheim Army File, Gives No Reason for Scrutiny While He Was U.N. Chief

June 07, 1986|STANLEY MEISLER | Times Staff Writer

PARIS — The French government released its file on the World War II army service of Austrian presidential candidate Kurt Waldheim on Friday but did not explain why it had compiled the record in 1979 when Waldheim was still secretary general of the United Nations.

The file, which listed only dates of service and names of hospitals and military units, confirmed that Waldheim had not, as he once claimed, been discharged from the German Army after being wounded in 1941 but had rejoined the Wehrmacht, as the German Army was known. These bare facts, however, offered no description of his duties and gave no hint of any kind of accusation of war crime involvement.

Since Waldheim, when faced with similar facts, acknowledged earlier this year that he had remained in the German Army during World War II but denied taking part in any war crimes, the release of the French document is not expected to affect the outcome of Austria's presidential runoff election Sunday. Waldheim is strongly favored to win.

Raises Suspicion

The French file does raise the suspicion that knowledge of Waldheim's wartime record and his distortion of it was widespread during his two terms as U.N. secretary general from 1972 to 1982.

In releasing the file, Denis Baudouin, spokesman of Premier Jacques Chirac, said it was most likely that a French military archivist had made the inquiries in Berlin that produced the file in 1979. But Baudouin said that he did not know why the investigation was made or who ordered it.

Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who was president at that time, and Jean-Francois Poncet, then minister of external relations, have denied that they knew anything about the existence of the file. Raymond Barre, who was premier in 1979, has not commented on the matter.

Baudouin said that the government was making the file public at the request of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies in Los Angeles. The file, which was reproduced in the Socialist newspaper Le Matin on Friday, even before its release by the conservative Chirac government, listed data compiled by the French military government of Berlin from records of "the office of information for the victims and prisoners of war of the Wehrmacht."

Took Over in 1946

The French government said that the file it made public Friday contained all the information about Waldheim contained in the records of that office, which came under French military control in 1946.

The file gave Waldheim's last known rank as oberleutnant (first lieutenant) and listed his military postings as follows:

Nov. 19, 1939: Incorporated in the Wehrmacht and posted to Aufklareung-Abteilung 45, Reiter-Schwadron

Dec. 14, 1941: A member of the 1-KP-Aufklaerungs-Abt. 45, wounded by explosion of shell in the right thigh, hospitalized in the Reservelazarett Minsk.

Jan. 1, 1942: Transferred to the Reservelazarett XXIII C Wien (Vienna).

Released From Hospital

March 6, 1942: Left the hospital, ready for service, and directed to the Kavallerie-Ersatz-Abteilung 11

March 14, 1942: Transferred to the Oberekommando, Heeres-Gruppe E.

Jan. 15, 1944: Belonging to the unit cited above, became ill: thyroid troubles.

March 2, 1944: Hospitalized at Heereskurlazarett Semmering.

March 29, 1944: Left the hospital, provisionally ready for service in campaign, and returned to Unit 050940.

According to Le Matin, the Oberekommando, Heeres-Gruppe E, to which Waldheim was assigned in 1942, was the unit of Gen. Alexander Loehr, who was executed for war crimes committed in Greece and Yugoslavia.

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