I refer to Robert McCartney's article "W. Germans Note Barbie, Waldheim Forcing Others to Face Nazi Past" {May 23}. The article insinuates that Mr. Waldheim is a Nazi war criminal by placing Mr. Waldheim's name in a sentence together with Mr. Barbie's name and claims evidence that he participated in war crimes.

Nothing is further from the truth. The decision of the attorney general barring Mr. Waldheim from entering the United States did not in any way refer to war crimes, nor did the investigation leading to that decision in any way cover the issue of war crimes.

For the application of the Holtzman Amendment leading to the placement on the watch list as interpreted by the Department of Justice, it is sufficient that a person has objectively belonged to a military unit that was involved in persecutory activities. That person could have been assuming a non-combat function such as interpreting or functions perfectly in line with recognized international rules of warfare. No personal involvement or active participation in the persecution activities of the military unit is necessary. This is obviously a far cry from personal and voluntary engagement in war crimes.

I would have hoped that The Post would also report this fact. It would only have been fair.

The case of Mr. Waldheim leads, however, to other more important considerations. The interpretation of the Holtzman Amendment by the Department of Justice based on the objective belonging to a military unit engaged in persecution activities, even when this is due to a mandatory military draft from which escape was only possible at the risk of one's life, brings the Holtzman Amendment and its implementation very near to the rather questionable concept of collective guilt. It raises fundamental questions regarding the value of the amendment and its application by the Department of Justice that are up to the American people to answer.


Charge' d'Affaires, Austrian Embassy