The debate about late Austrian President Kurt Waldheim’s actions in World War Two did not only stir up the Austrian society. The heated discussion about the politician’s his way to deal with his past – claiming that he only did his duty – also sent shockwaves around the world.
The issue also showed how different his home country handled its own future in contrast to neighbouring Germany where political leaders and society drew clearer lines. And the infamous dispute created one of the most iconic statement of the 20th century. Then-Chancellor Fred Sinowatz did not try to hesitate his frustration about the argument and Waldheim’s attitude by acknowledging that “Waldheim was not a member of the SA, but his horse was”.
Now Cornelius Lehnguth investigated the dispute which started shortly before Waldheim’s election in 1986. In his new 500-page book “Waldheim und die Folgen”, the political scientist from Goethe University in Frankfurt examines the changes the Austrian society went through during the discussion. His comprehensive analysis also includes descriptions of the policies of the country’s political parties and the attitude of their top representatives.
Waldheim und die Folgen
By Cornelius Lehnguth
Published by Campus Verlag (www.campus.de)
::: The Austrian Culture Channel on Twitter: @accthomas