The international commission that Kurt Waldheim chose to affirm his claims of innocence in Nazi war crimes "will reveal damning new evidence that is expected to force his resignation" as Austrian president, the Chicago Sun-Times reported in today's editions.
The blue-ribbon panel, headed by Swiss military historian Hans Rudolph Kurz, went beyond its mandate to examine documents and also interviewed witnesses, including Waldheim's former commanding officer, Lt. Col. Herbert Warnstorff, and Waldheim's former top Nazi aide, Lt. Helmut Poliza, the newspaper said.
Both officers told the commission, meeting in Vienna, that "Waldheim's unit was responsible for the deportation of thousands of Jews to death camps," the newspaper reported.
The British member of the commission, Prof. Gerald Flemming of the University of Surrey, is focusing on charges that Waldheim's unit turned over allied prisoners to SS execution squads.
When Waldheim's administration appointed, funded and staffed thesix-man panel, Waldheim expressed confidence that they would conclude he was "not personally guilty of any war crimes."
But recently the former U. N. secretary general has been distancing himself from the commission, contending it has no "legal standing" and that its conclusions are not binding.
Commission chairman Kurz told The Washington Post that he is pressing authorities in the United States and Yugoslavia for secret documents or information on Waldheim's wartime activities.
"We now don't think we will complete the report before the end of January and even later, and we must overcome the problems in Yugoslavia and America, where cooperation is proving difficult," Kurz said. "We will not issue a report and later take blame for having overlooked some vital parts."
Waldheim, in an interview in the Vienna daily newspaper Die Presse, said his conscience is clear and that he intends to invite the commission "over for tea so they can ask questions."
Kurz said the commission wants to question Waldheim, but not before mid-January, when its next session is scheduled. "We have compiled a list of questions we are reserving for the president. There are many technical details on that list."
Alois Mock, head of the People's Conservative Party, which endorsed Waldheim's independent candidacy for the presidency, has told key officials in the United Kingdom and the United States that he will disassociate himself and his party from Waldheim when the report is made public next month, according to the Sun-Times. This is expected to force Waldheim's resignation, it said.
Former Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, who appointed Waldheim ambassador to the United Nations, now says, "I deeply regret having supported him for any position of trust since he has been proven to be a liar."
Robert Rhodes-James, a 10-year veteran of the British Parliament who was a member of Waldheim's U.N. staff, called Waldheim "a congenital liar and unfit to be president or hold any position of responsibility anywhere."
Meanwhile, a Justice Department official confirmed that it has officially notified the commission that its year-long investigation of Waldheim proved he had "personal awareness" of war crimes.
The commission had asked the department's Office of Special Investigations for documentation to back up its decision last April to put Waldheim on the "watch list" of foreigners barred from entering the United States under the so-called Holtzman amendment, which excludes those who have persecuted others on racial and religious grounds.
The decision marked the first time in U.S. history that the head of a friendly country had been branded as undesirable.
According to a report in The New York Times yesterday, the investigations unit declined to provide such backup material because it was for internal use, but it replied to the American member of the panel, Brig. Gen. James Lawton Collins, in part as follows:
"It has been suggested that the U.S. action resulted from the fact that Kurt Waldheim was in the area where crimes and acts of persecution took place and that mere proximity to such activities warranted a watch list decision. That simply is not the case and we have never so represented.
"On the contrary, the findings are that there is sufficient evidence to implicate Mr. Waldheim personally and in conjunction with the small functional units to which he was attached and in acts which clearly constitute persecution under established legal precedent."
The investigations unit also sent Collins a copy of an April 27 letter to the Immigration and Naturalization Service asking that Waldheim be put on the watch list and citing six cases of "persecutory activities" that it said Waldheim had "assisted or otherwise participated in."
Among the acts cited were the transfer of civilian prisoners to the SS for exploitation as slave labor, mass deportation of civilians to concentration camps, deportation of Jews from Greek islands to concentration camps, utilization of anti- Semitic propaganda, mistreatment and execution of allied prisoners and reprisal executions of hostages and other civilians.
Neal Sher, director of the special investigations unit, said the documentation against Waldheim might be disclosed if the Austrian leader tries to challenge the bar on his entry to the United States.
Other materials sent to Collins disclosed for the first time that Warnstorff and Poliza, both reportedly living in West Germany, have also been put on the watch list.
Waldheim's unit was posted to Nazi-occupied Greece and Yugoslavia from 1942 to 1945. He has repeatedly denied the charges, although he has admitted concealing parts of his wartime record.