Waldheim and Austria

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9780140130195: Waldheim and Austria

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.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Bassett, former Vienna correspondent for the London Times , examines the Kurt Waldheim affair in light of the continuing denial by the Austrians of his complicity in Nazi war crimes. The author ventures to explain why so many of Waldheim's countrymen voted for the former United Nations secretary-general in the 1986 presidential election, and why Austrians reacted with either indifference or furious defensiveness to negative world opinion over the details of his wartime service. Bassett is harsh toward the Austrian people. Comparing them with "demented sheep," he cites them for selfishness, greed, immaturity, pettiness, mental lassitude and their capacity for self-delusion. There is nothing shrill, however, in his devastating appraisal, and the book is elegantly written. In the end, after referring in passing to Waldheim's "spinelessness," Bassett brings into focus the somber fact that the case against him was made in the main by Jewish organizations. Photos.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

There is a dark side to Austriathat land of ". . . sachertorte, Mozart and dirndls"and Bassett deftly explores it through juxtaposition of Kurt Waldheim's career with the history of post-imperial Austria. Neither standard biography, like Robert E. Herzstein's Waldheim: The Missing Years (LJ 6/15/88), nor conventional history, this slim, articulate work will be of great interest to a wide range of readers. The author is surely no Austrophobe; his five years as a Vienna-based journalist insure a certain empathy. Yet, in the end, one comes away convinced of Waldheim's complicity with the Nazis in Yugoslaviathat he was primarily a product of a unique Austrian environment, one that has not yet overcome its predilection for amnesia. For most libraries. Mark R. Yerburgh, Trinity Coll. Lib., Burlington, Vt.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Bassett, Richard
Published by Penguin Books (1990)
ISBN 10: 0140130195 ISBN 13: 9780140130195
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Bassett, Richard
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ISBN 10: 0140130195 ISBN 13: 9780140130195
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