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Elisabeth Waldheim

Elisabeth Waldheim First Lady of Austria

First Lady of Austria
Elisabeth Waldheim
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro First Lady of Austria
Is First Lady
From Austria
Type Politics
Gender female
Birth 13 April 1922, Vienna
Age: 98 years
Spouse: Kurt Waldheim
The details


Elisabeth Waldheim (née Ritschel) (born 13 April 1922) is the widow of Kurt Waldheim, the former UN Secretary-General and President of Austria. She was the First Lady of Austria from 1986 to 1992.
She was born in Vienna as the eldest of three sisters to Wilhelm Ritschel and his wife Hildegard. His father was a military official in the imperial army. After the fall of the Habsburg empire, he became an entrepreneur. His daughter Elisabeth was named after the former Austrian empress Elisabeth and she even got her nickname "Sissy".
Elisabeth decided to study law at University of Vienna, where she first met Kurt Waldheim. On 19 August 1944, in the middle of the Second World War, they got married in Vienna. Their first daughter Lieselotte was born in 1945. According to her husband's New York Times obituary, "[s]he was an ardent Nazi who before the war had renounced her Roman Catholic faith and joined the League of German Maidens, the young women’s equivalent of the Hitler Youth. She applied for Nazi Party membership as soon as she was old enough, and was accepted in 1941."
Elisabeth gave up her own job in order to support her husband's diplomatic and political career. He became Austrian minister of foreign affairs and UN Secretary General. In 1986 he was elected President of Austria and she became Austria's First Lady. The couple had three children: daughter Lieselotte Waldheim-Natural is working at the United Nations, daughter Christa Waldheim-Karas became an artist (she is married to Othmar Karas, Austrian Member of the European Parliament), and son Gerhard Waldheim is an investment banker. Elisabeth speaks German, English and French.

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