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Kurt Waldheim

Kurt Waldheim (born December 21, 1918) is an Austrian diplomat and politician. He was Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1976 to 1981 and Federal President of Austria from 1986 to 1992.

Waldheim and his wife in 2002

Born at St. Andrä-Wördern near Vienna and educated at the University of Vienna, Waldheim joined the Austrian diplomatic service in 1945, serving as First Secretary of the Legation in Paris from 1948, and in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Vienna from 1951. In 1956 he was made Ambassador to Canada, until going back to the Ministry in 1960, after which he became the Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations in 1964. From 1968 he was the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs in Austria serving for the Austrian People's Party), before going back as Permanent Representative to the UN in 1970. He was defeated in the Austrian presidential elections in 1971, but successfully negotiated the election to become United Nations Secretary-General, in 1972, and re-elected in 1976 despite some opposition. In 1981 his attempt for a third term was blocked by a PRC veto.

Unsuccessfully Waldheim had sought to be elected President of Austria in 1971, but a second attempt in 1986 proved successful despite revelations that he had served as an officer in a German army unit that had committed war atrocities in Yugoslavia, during World War II. An investigation cleared him from allegations of having been a war criminal, but his term as president was tainted and he would not seek re-election in 1992. He was succeeded by Thomas Klestil.

His memoirs, mainly about his time as head of the UN Secretariat, was published in 1985 under the title In the Eye of the Storm.

Preceded by:
U Thant
United Nations Secretaries-General Succeeded by:
Javier Pérez de Cuéllar