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Ex-U.N. Chief Regrets Hiding Past, Defends WW II Balkan Role

June 11, 1996|Reuters

VIENNA — Former U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim, in a long-awaited autobiography, concedes it was a mistake to conceal his Nazi-era war record in the Balkans but maintains his behavior was above reproach.

In his book "The Answer," to be published today, Waldheim, 77, recognizes that the failure to address his military record from 1942 to 1945 cast him in the role of political villain rather than elder statesman.

"Today, I know that a detailed curriculum vitae, including all details of my time with the military, may have caused me some short-term problems but years later would have spared me many difficulties," writes Waldheim, who served as U.N. chief from 1972 to 1981 and as Austrian president from 1986 to 1992.

Waldheim's campaign for the Austrian presidency and his election victory in June 1986 were marred by allegations, mainly from the World Jewish Congress in New York, that he was involved in war crimes committed by the army of Austrian-born Adolf Hitler.

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