UNITED NATIONS — Kurt Waldheim was a "living lie" and an "ambitious mediocrity" who caused great damage to the United Nations by covering up his wartime record, a former top aide writes in a new book.
Sir Brian Urquhart, a Briton who retired early last year as U.N. undersecretary general, said that while Waldheim performed better than expected during 10 years as U.N. chief, even showing courage on occasion, he "lacked the qualities of vision, integrity, inspiration and leadership that the United Nations so desperately needed."
By covering up his service as a staff officer with a notorious German army group in the Balkans during World War II, Waldheim "has done immense damage not only to his own country but to the United Nations and to those who have devoted, and in some cases sacrificed, their lives for it," Urquhart writes in his memoirs, "A Life in Peace and War," published by Harper & Row.
Waldheim, now president of Austria, has been placed on a U.S. Justice Department "watch list" because of his wartime activities. Waldheim has denied any complicity in his unit's actions against Yugoslav partisans or in the deportation of Greek Jews to concentration camps.