U.S. Authorities in Germany Blamed for Auerbach’s Suicide

Jewish enterprises in Bavaria were closed today during the funeral of Philip Auerbach, former head of the Bavarian Restitution Office, who committed suicide after being sentenced last Thursday by a German court-which included three ex-Nazi judges-to 30 months’ imprisonment for embezzlement of restitution funds.

Liberal circles here blamed the American occupation authorities for Auerbach’s suicide. They pointed out that the occupation authorities were responsible for his appointment to the post of Restitution Commissioner and that his trial should have been conducted in camera before an Allied court and not before a German court.

A spokesman for the German Social Democratic Party emphasized that Auerbach’s suicide was “final proof of his devotion and sincerity with which he addressed himself to the task of bringing relief to victims of Nazism in Bavaria.” He criticized the court verdict as “uncommonly severe” and added:

“Even thought it may be impossible to doubt that the court did its best to the objective, it is still open to question whether all its members were able to clear their minds of old prejudices. That is a matter which those concerned must settle for themselves with their own consciences.”

Other circles here pointed out that Auerbach tried to secure at least some restitution to victims of Nazism at a time when German authorities were doing their best to reduce restitution to a minimum and postpone it as long as possible. Some emphasized that it was an “utterly unintelligible mistake” to appoint a court composed of former members of the Nazi Party to try a Jew who was a former inmate of a Nazi concentration camp.

Dr. Joseph Klebansky, Auerbach’s lawyer who last week announced his intention of appealing against Thursday’s verdict, today said that he had no doubt whatsoever that his client would have been acquitted of the charges had he lived.

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