An official administration silence yesterday greeted reports that former U.N. secretary general Kurt Waldheim had kept his World War II military intelligence unit's daybooks, which included a notation that Hitler had issued orders to kill Greek prisoners.
"He was not just an intelligence officer," said Robert E. Herztein, a University of South Carolina history professor who located the documents in the National Archives. "I have found papers placing him in operations constantly."
Eli M. Rosenbaum, general counsel of the World Jewish Congress, which has been instrumental in uncovering many documents related to Waldheim, said in New York, "If he were anyone other than Kurt Waldheim, he would have been on the list a long time ago" of people barred from U.S. entry.
At the Justice Department, which is considering whether to bar Waldheim because of increasing doubts about his record in World War II, officials refused to say whether the latest charges would affect their decision, saying they had not yet seen the documents. The department's Office of Special Investigations has recommended that Waldheim's name be placed on the "watch list" of people to be denied entry to the United States.
Fifteen Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee renewed their request to meet with Attorney General Edwin Meese III or his chief deputy on the case. The Senate also approved a resolution urging Meese to "carefully and expeditiously" review the Waldheim evidence.
Waldheim is considered the front-runner in the Austrian presidential election to be held Sunday, and one of the issues is the question of how much he knew while working for the German high command in the Balkans about Nazi atrocities against resistance fighters. He has repeatedly maintained that he was "far away" from events and uninvolved in them; yesterday he said there "is nothing true" in the allegations that he kept his unit's diary.
No head of state has ever been denied entry to the United States as an "excludable alien," according to Justice Department officials. A spokesman, however, said a decision in Waldheim's case would be "based on the law and not on the position of the individual." The relevant section of the law bars admission to Nazi officials or collaborators involved in racial, political or religious persecution.
The latest revelations involve war diaries found by Herztein and other researchers. Herztein said in an interview that the daybooks of the German general staff liaison with the headquarters of the Italian 11th Army were kept from July 19 to Aug. 21, 1943, by Waldheim, who was then a first lieutenant.
Translated from German, the Aug. 8 entry says, "According to a new Fuehrer order, bandits captured in battle are to be shot . . . others suspected of banditry are to be taken prisoner for use in labor details."
"If Waldheim's little liaison unit was involved in transmitting that order . . . that is very ominous," Herztein said.
Other documents at the National Archives showed that Waldheim's unit was asked on April 28, 1944, by another German army unit on the Greek island of Corfu to contact the Nazi SS security police "to bring about implementation measures" for "settlement of the Jewish question" on the island.
Herztein said the documents show that two weeks later, Waldheim's unit furnished the SS security police with the Jews' identifying numbers.