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Mr Kurt Waldheim

Volume 129: debated on Wednesday 9 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the nature of the report naming the then Lieutenant Waldheim as a wanted German Army intelligence officer; and if he will consider releasing it.

As I announced on 29 February, at columns 420–21, a comprehensive review of the results of the Ministry of Defence's earlier investigation into the fate of captured British service men and the involvement, if any, of the then Lieutenant Waldheim has been set in hand. However, I am anxious that the review should be able to proceed without diversion of effort into questions of the release of individual documents. It would conflict with the proper conduct and progress of the current review to release documents piecemeal in advance of the final report. It is important that the review team should not be pressed for comments of detail on matters which are being comprehensively addressed in the course of the review and which will be covered in its report.With regard to the document naming Lieutenant Waldheim, to which my hon. Friend refers, I wish to correct the mistaken suggestion that this is a wanted list, in view of speculation that has arisen since it was referred to by the International Commission of Historians (ICH).This document was mentioned by the commission in the following terms:

"The Commission also made enquiries regarding a CIA file of 26 April 1945 which according to report contained certain information on Lieutenant Waldheim. Although we were refused access to that file which even now is still a classified document the extract that we were given to look at and that we were assured was the only one relating to Waldheim contained only a personal description of Waldheim. That description is part of a list of a great number of Wehrmacht officers in the Ic Branch".

I can confirm that the document to which the Commission refers was simply a record of a routine interrogation report dated 26 April 1945 on the details of individuals who happened to be known to a German officer. It was not a wanted list as has been alleged in some newspapers. In this interrogation report one of the names mentioned is that of the then Lieutenant Waldheim. The relevant verbatim extract from this document is as follows:

"236 Ob.lt. WALDHEIM
Subordinate officer to WARNSTORFF in SALONIKA.
Height: ca 1·82
Hair: Light
Eyes: Light
Age: ca 28"

The interrogation report contains no other reference to the then Lieutenant Waldheim.

We will consider the possibility of releasing particular documents when the review team's findings are published.