Discusses the charges leveled against Kurt Waldheim concerning his World War II activities and the reactions of present-day Austrians, revealing a strong strain of antisemitism and xenophobia in the national conscience
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: This is an account of the "Waldheim Affair", which for six months in 1986 cast a spotlight on the small, neutral republic of Austria. As Kurt Waldheim, former Secretary-General of the United Nations ran for President, so fragments of his hitherto undisclosed wartime career in the German army came to light, bringing with them strongly denied allegations that he had been involved in atrocities carried out against civilians and prisoners of war in the Balkans. In this book Richard Bassett, Central European Correspondent of "The Times", describes the post-imperial heritage of 20th century Austria and gives an account of how the Austrians reacted to the rise of Nazism and to Anschluss. He believes this historical background is essential to understanding the reaction of Austrians to the accusations levelled against Waldheim - because for Bassett, the important question is whether the Austrians themselves have succeeded in coming to terms with their past and creating a healthy democratic society. His conclusions are considered to be controversial and alarming, promoting the view that anti-Semitism and xenophobia are still significant forces within Austrian society.