WALDHEIM: A NAZI WAR CRIMINAL
Attached is an “exclusive” story from page one of today’s New York Daily News, revealing that Kurt Waldheim – whom the U.S. Justice Department found to have “assisted or participated” in mass deportations of Greek and Yugoslav Jews to Nazi death camps, and in the execution of Allied prisoners – is receiving $125,000 each year out of the UN budget. One quarter of this amount is paid for by U.S. taxpayers. This contrasts with many Holocaust victims, who have still not received proper compensation for their loss and suffering from the Austrian government or anyone else.
-- Tom Gross
“A $2.3 MILLION GOLDEN PARACHUTE”
His golden years: UN pays former Nazi Waldheim 125G annual pension
By Douglas Feiden
The New York Daily News
October 14, 2002
He’s been branded an undesirable alien, banned from setting foot on American soil and linked to atrocities against civilian innocents.
He’s also been awarded a $2.3 million golden parachute – paid out quietly over the past two decades – by his friends at the United Nations.
Former UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim has been on a watch list of unwanted people since 1987 – when Justice Department probers found he “assisted or participated” in Nazi deportations and the executions of Jews and soldiers in the Balkans during World War II.
But that hasn’t stopped the world body from larding the ex-Wehrmacht intelligence officer with an annual pension of $124,754 – which he receives in Vienna and can expect to collect every year until the day he dies, the Daily News has learned.
UNCLE SAM’S SHARE OF THE LARGESS?
The American taxpayer has shelled out about 24% of the tab for the 83-year-old Waldheim, who served two five-year terms as UN boss from 1972 to 1982 – and has been a UN pensioner ever since.
“The awful fact that he still receives a UN pension speaks to the corruption of an institution that has abandoned the principles on which it was established,” said former Sen. Daniel Moynihan (D-N.Y.), who served as U.S. representative to the UN from 1975-76. “Waldheim was a low point in UN history.”
In 1986, the then-senator introduced a nonbinding rider to an anti-terrorism bill that would have defunded Waldheim’s pension by withholding U.S. contributions to it.
Although the measure was approved, no action was taken to ax the annuity.
Sixteen years have passed, and Moynihan was appalled to learn the payments never ceased. In 1997, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) sought passage of a similar resolution to end Waldheim’s benefits. It died in the House subcommittee on international operations and human rights. Maloney told The News she’d reintroduce it in the next session of Congress. “It’s a disgrace,” she said. “He obtained his UN position under false pretenses, he continues to deny responsibility for his Nazi service – and he still collects a pension.”
HE GETS RAISES
Waldheim’s annual haul has shot up in the past 20 years, thanks to at least five budgetary resolutions – passed in the General Assembly by acclamation – that hiked the retirement payouts for all three living ex-secretaries general.
In other words, the assembly voted Waldheim a series of pension-allowance raises – even as evidence surfaced of his alleged role in the mass deportations of Greek and Yugoslav Jews to Nazi death camps, and in the execution of Allied prisoners, in 1942-45.
In a report dated April 9, 1987, the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations concluded that, in the last three years of the war, “Lt. Kurt Waldheim assisted or otherwise participated in the persecution of persons because of race, religion, national origin or political opinion.”
Attempts to reach Waldheim at his home in central Vienna were unsuccessful.
“The pension is a moral and ethical stain on the United Nations,” said Elan Steinberg, the former World Jewish Congress executive director who helped unmask Waldheim’s Nazi past. “The money should go to support needy Holocaust survivors – not an officer in Hitler’s army.”
THE GOOD LIFE
That ex-officer, who also served a term as president of Austria from 1986 to 1992, has been living the high life in the salons and playgrounds of Vienna, the cosmopolis on the blue Danube that gave the world Brahms, Mozart, Strauss and Freud.
His home is near the Albertina Museum, world renowned for its collection of Alfred Durer paintings, and he’s a regular at the cultural, political and diplomatic galas in the centuries-old mansions of the royal Hapsburg family.
The UN has not acted to repudiate its association with Waldheim or strip him of his annuity. Secretary General Kofi Annan, through his chief spokesman, Fred Eckhard, declined to say whether he felt the pension was “wise or unwise, fair or unfair.”
Because it is allocated as part of the UN budget by a ballot of the 190-member General Assembly, Eckhard said, “The question of whether the pension is appropriate or not is a question you’d have to put to 190 governments.”
When Waldheim stepped down in 1982, his pension was in the $80,000 range. By increments – $102,000, $106,727, $109,122 – it rose to $124,754 in 1997 and has continued at that level for five years, according to General Assembly and pension fund documents on file at the UN Library.
THE BOTTOM LINE
• Between 1982 and the end of this year, the disgraced diplomat will have pocketed more than $1.8 million.
• In current dollars, adjusted for inflation, the tally is in excess of $2.3 million.
• Because the U.S. share of the UN’s regular budget was 25% until January 2001, when it was reduced to 22%, Washington has shelled out about $555,000 of the total.
• By next year, when the assembly is expected to upgrade compensation, Waldheim’s annual pension could top $130,000.
• The payments will continue until his death, at which point his wife, if she survives him, will collect 50% of his pension until her death.